The last day of the Atlantic hurricane season was November 30. Now that the season has come to a close, we can consider what impact it had and how it measured up to what experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted.
In May 2022, the NOAA predicted an above-average year for hurricanes in the Atlantic. The organization’s Climate Prediction Center anticipated 14 to 21 named storms, 6 to 10 of which would be categorized as hurricanes. 3 to 6 of those storms were expected to be major hurricanes (category 3 or higher, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour).
The NOAA’s predictions were nearly spot on.
During the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which lasted from June 1 through November 30, we saw 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.
Although the season’s named storms were on the low end of the NOAA’s predictions, the damage they caused was significant. The season’s major hurricanes, Fiona and Ian, were both classified as category 4 storms with sustained wind speeds of 130-156 miles per hour.
2022’s Worst Hurricanes: Fiona & Ian
Hurricane Fiona was the sixth named storm, third hurricane, and first major hurricane to strike during the 2022 season.
Fiona first passed over Guadeloupe on September 16 and strengthened into a hurricane as it approached Puerto Rico. It made landfall in Puerto Rico that same day and made landfall again in the Dominican Republic, where it strengthened into a major hurricane. Hurricane Fiona then passed slowly through the Turks and Caicos and continued to gather strength until it became a category 4 hurricane. Fiona passed Bermuda and then hit Novia Scotia on September 24.
Hurricane Fiona has been attributed to at least 31 deaths in the Caribbean and Canada; the storm caused significant financial losses as well, including more than $375 million in the Dominican Republic and a minimum of $500 million in insured losses alone in Canada.
The full effects of the hurricane may not be realized for the next year or more.
Hurricane Ian was the deadliest storm to strike Florida since 1935. The category 4 hurricane caused catastrophic damage in Cuba and throughout the southeastern United States, particularly Florida and South Carolina.
Ian was the ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2022 season.
It strengthened from a tropical storm into a hurricane on September 26 and continued to gather strength, making landfall in western Cuba as a category 3 hurricane on September 27. By 5:00 am the following day, Hurricane Ian had intensified to a category 4 hurricane and made landfall on mainland Florida at 4:35 pm with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour. It weakened to a tropical storm by 5:00 am on September 29 as it moved inland and then offshore, but by 5:00 pm it had re-intensified as a category 1 hurricane. Ian made landfall in the U.S. again at 2:05 pm on September 30, striking near Georgetown, South Carolina with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour.
At least 157 deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Ian: 146 in Florida, 5 in North Carolina, 1 in Virginia, and 5 in Cuba. The storm’s 10- to 15-foot storm surge was responsible for most of the lives lost and the catastrophic damage, which is estimated to be more than $50 billion.
For people living and working in the areas that Ian struck, the storm’s impact will be felt for years and even decades to come.
When Did the 2022 Atlantic Hurricanes Strike?
The earliest named storm of the 2022 season was Tropical Storm Alex, which formed on June 5 about 85 miles north of Grand Bahama Island and reached peak intensity with sustained winds of 70 miles per hour about 354 miles southeast of North Carolina.
The latest storm of the season was Hurricane Nicole, which first formed on November 7 and strengthened to a category 1 hurricane on November 9 as it made landfall on Grand Bahama with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. Nicole made landfall again on North Hutchinson Island just 15 miles from Fort Pierce, Florida, on November 10. It weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall again about 95 miles southeast of Tallahassee, Florida.
There were no named storms during August, which hadn’t happened since 1997, and no hurricanes formed in the Atlantic until the beginning of September, when Hurricane Danielle (category 1) and then Hurricane Earl (category 2) formed. Neither of these two hurricanes made landfall.
September was the most active month of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, with 6 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. It was also the most destructive and deadliest month of the season, as both Ian and Fiona struck during September.
The 2022 Hurricane Season Is One of the Most Destructive in History
According to a recent New York Times article, population growth is responsible for the increasing costliness of hurricanes. The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most destructive in history, and the total number of hurricanes that caused more than $1 billion in damage has doubled since the 1980s.
Climate change can be blamed for increased occurrences of severe hurricanes, but the damage they cause is directly linked to population density in the areas they hit. The more people and buildings that stand in a storm’s way, the more financial losses we can expect to see.
More people are likely to lose their lives in densely populated coastal areas if they are not evacuated in time.