John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
A major hurricane not making landfall for this long only happens once every 270 years, according to NASA.
Now here’s a “drought” we all can get behind: A major hurricane hasn’t made landfall in the U.S. since the record-setting storm activity of 2005. Statistically, such a pattern only comes along once every 270 years, according to NASA.
This decade-long “hurricane drought” is also the longest period without major (Category 3 and above) landfalling ‘canes in records stretching back to 1850. But that doesn’t mean 2016 will be calm. The researchers who conducted this analysis, Timothy Hall and Kelly Hereid, say there’s a 40 percent chance of a major hurricane moving inland every year.
The latest forecast for the Atlantic season gives a “near-normal” year of four to eight hurricanes, with one to four becoming major, though there’s no predicting what might make landfall. And as NASA points out, it doesn’t take a screaming, Katrina-level monster to cause havoc. “It should be noted that hurricanes making landfall as less than Category 3 can still cause extreme damage, with heavy rains and coastal storm surges,” the agency writes. “Such was the case with Hurricane Sandy in 2012.”