The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season featured a combination of destructive hurricanes and climatological oddities in a season that stretched from January through late November.
(MORE: Hurricane Central)
Tracks of all 2016 Atlantic Basin tropical cyclones (Data: National Hurricane Center)
Fifteen named storms and seven hurricanes formed in the Atlantic Basin in 2016, the most since the 2012 season.
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Utilizing the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which adds up the longevity and intensity of each named storm, 2016 was the most active season in the Atlantic Basin since 2010, according to statistics from Colorado State University tropical scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach.
ACE is often used to compare seasons to show how active or inactive a season was, in effect giving a measure of the quality, rather than the quantity, of tropical cyclones in a given year.
Here are 10 things we’ll remember the most from the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.
1. Hurricane Matthew’s Devastation in Haiti
Damage in Jeremie, Haiti, from Hurricane Matthew is seen from above in this image taken Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (MINUSTAH)
Hurricane Matthew’s first strike was its most catastrophic.
Matthew was the first Category 4 landfall in Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964, coming ashore in the western Tiburon Peninsula near the town of Les Anglais on Oct. 4.
This was the worst humanitarian disaster in the impoverished nation since the 2010 earthquake. The United Nations estimated Matthew affected at least 2.1 million, with 750,000 in need of assistance. The Haitian death toll officially stands at 546,, with estimates of over 1,000 dead from local officials.
(MORE: Parts of Haiti in Ruins)
2. Matthew’s Destructive U.S. Scrape
Floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew covers parts of Interstate 95, homes and businesses in Lumberton, North Carolina, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. People were ordered to evacuate, and officials warned that some communities could be cut off by washed-out roads or bridge closures. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Matthew’s forecast was hair-raising, given its track near a broad swath of the Southeast U.S. coast.
Matthew scraped the Space and First coasts of eastern Florida. The most destructive winds, often over hurricane force, paralleled just off the coast from Cape Canaveral through Northeast Florida and coastal Georgia before Matthew’s center finally came ashore near McClellanville, South Carolina, as a minimal hurricane.
Arguably, the biggest impact Matthew had in the United States was its freshwater flooding in the Carolinas.
More than 15 inches of rain fell in some places. Additionally, storm surge along the coast from Florida to North Carolina flooded coastal cities, narrowed beaches through erosion and backed up rivers. Weeks later, the National Weather Service observed these waters still advancing down the watershed toward the Atlantic Ocean.
(MORE: Full Matthew Recap)
3. Matthew Snaps a Long Category 5 Drought
Track history of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
According to Klotzbach, Matthew became the lowest latitude Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic on record, beating the old record set by Ivan in 2004.
4. Hermine Ends Two Hurricane Streaks
Hermine ended two so-called hurricane droughts in early September.
Florida’s record-breaking streak with no hurricane landfalls that lasted more than a decade came to an end when Hermine pushed inland near St. Marks, Florida, early Sept. 1 as a Category 1. Wilma in October 2005 was the last hurricane to make landfall in the state prior to Hermine.
Hermine also ended a record streak of 1,080 days where no hurricane developed or passed through the Gulf of Mexico. Ingrid in September 2013 was the last Gulf of Mexico hurricane.
Hermine’s history was quite lengthy before those records were snapped. The hurricane formed from a disturbance that tracked across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean Islands, and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico – a distance of over 4,000 miles.
The tropical wave that formed into Hermine was known as Invest 99-L. That tropical wave battled wind shear and dry air for much of its lifespan, before finally forming into Tropical Depression Nine on Aug. 28 in the Gulf of Mexico. Hermine was then named on Aug. 31 when it became a tropical storm.
(MORE: Hermine Recap)
5. Earl Ends Western Caribbean Hurricane Drought, Causes Deadly Flooding
The photo above shows a view of the community of Coscomatepec in Veracruz, Mexico, on August 6, 2016, after Earl moved through. (EDUARDO MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Earl ended a span of nearly four years with no hurricane landfalls in the western Caribbean Sea, a swath from roughly Jamaica to the Yucatan Peninsula.
That streak-breaking landfall occurred on Aug. 4 when Earl pushed into Belize as a Category 1. Ernesto was the last western Caribbean hurricane landfall prior to Earl, impacting the Yucatan Peninsula on Aug. 7, 2012.
It was after Earl’s second landfall as a tropical storm near Veracruz, Mexico, late Aug. 5 that the storm would produce its most devastating impacts.
At least 45 people were killed in Mexico from heavy rains that induced landslides, according to reports.
Earl was the likely the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane of 2016, behind Matthew.
(MORE: Earl Recap)
6. A Freak January Hurricane, and a ‘Landfall’
Tracks of all global known global tropical cyclones (in light blue) from 1842 through January 2016. The track of Hurricane Alex in January 2016 is highlighted. (NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens)
Hurricane Alex formed before you could even abandon your New Year’s resolutions in one of the strangest “starts” to a hurricane season.
Alex became just the second hurricane on record to form in the Atlantic Basin during the month of January. The last hurricane that formed in the Atlantic during January was in 1938, according to NOAA’s historical hurricane tracker database.
Alex is also the first hurricane to occur in the Atlantic in January since Alice in 1955. Alice initially formed into a hurricane on Dec. 31, 1954, but then remained a hurricane into early January 1955.
Alex became the strongest January hurricane on record Jan. 14 when its winds reached an estimated 85 mph.
Alex made landfall on the island of Terceira in the central Azores on Jan. 15 with maximum estimated sustained winds of 70 mph.
(FULL RECAP: Hurricane Alex)
7. A Thanksgiving Hurricane Landfall
Track history of Hurricane Otto in late November 2016. (Data: National Hurricane Center)
Thanksgiving and hurricane landfalls don’t belong in the same sentence – until 2016, that is.
Hurricane Otto made landfall in southeastern Nicaragua on Nov. 24, intensifying to a Category 2 hurricane in the final 24 hours before landfall.
Otto’s hurricane landfall was the latest in any calendar year on record in the Atlantic Basin, according to Klotzbach.
Among the many other notable records Otto shattered, it also made landfall over 10 months after the season’s first named storm, the aforementioned Alex, and made a rare crossing from the Caribbean Sea to the eastern Pacific Ocean as an intact tropical cyclone.
(FULL RECAP: Hurricane Otto)
8. Another Preseason Storm is a Memorial Day Weekend Nuisance
Bonnie was the second preseason named storm of 2016, following several months after Alex’s odd January journey near the Azores.
Tropical Depression Two developed on May 27, just a handful of days before the official June 1 hurricane season start date. The depression then strengthened into Tropical Storm Bonnie a day later.
Bonnie made an ill-timed arrival along the Southeast coast during the Memorial Day weekend, making landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, on May 29 as a tropical depression.
Impacts from Bonnie were not widespread, but it did cause some significant flooding near the border between Georgia and South Carolina.
One person was killed and several others rescued from rip currents caused by Bonnie in the coastal Carolinas.
(MORE: Bonnie Recap)
9. 80 Percent of Named Storms Affected Land
The named storms that affected the U.S. in 2016 were clustered in the Southeast.
Twelve of the 15 named storms that roamed the Atlantic basin in 2016 affected land directly in some way.
Fiona, Ian and Lisa were the only storms that did not impact land, instead taking a harmless path through the open Atlantic waters.
Of the 12 named storms that affected land in 2016, five of them hit the United States.
It’s interesting to note that all five of those – Bonnie, Colin, Hermine, Julia and Matthew – had some kind of impact on the Southeast, as the cluster of track lines in the image above illustrate.
10. Hurricane Nicole’s Weird History, Path
Track history of Hurricane Nicole in early-mid October 2016. (Data: National Hurricane Center)
While attention was mostly fixed on Matthew, what would eventually become Hurricane Nicole took a weird, meandering path south of Bermuda.
Once Matthew’s siege on the East Coast was finally over, Nicole was drawn northward and eventually rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane on Oct. 12. Its eye then moved directly over Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane the following day.
Despite being only a 22-mile wide archipelago in the vast Atlantic Ocean, Nicole was the closest major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) to Bermuda since Oct. 22, 1926. Several gusts over 100 mph were measured as parts of the eyewall raked through.