The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season came to an end on November 30 with several factors that will make it another one for the record books.
In a normal Atlantic hurricane season, there are 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, with three of those being major (Category 3 or above). However, the United States has not experienced a typical hurricane season in years.
An active season is defined simply as one with above-average activity. The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season became the sixth consecutive in a row with above-average activity, something many view as evidence of climate change affecting weather patterns.
Not only was 2021 above-average inactivity, but it was also only the third season in history to exhaust the entire regular list of 21 storm names.
The 2021 season saw 21 named storms, seven of which became hurricanes and 4 of those became major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).
June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. However, 2021 was the seventh year in a row in which a named storm formed before June 1, Brian McNoldy, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, reports.
Tropical storm Anna was the first to form on May 20, ten days prior to the start of the season, and where no tropical storms in the month of May had been documented since prior to 1950.
Tropical storm Bill was the first “in-season” storm to form on June 14.
The season’s last storm was tropical storm Wanda, which formed on October 24, and took the last remaining name on the 2121 storm name list.
The 2021 season tied the record for the most active June, with three named storms forming within the month. This number has occurred in only four other years: 1886, 1909, 1936, and 1968.
2021 broke the record for the earliest-forming fifth named storm when hurricane Elsa formed on July 1. The prior record was set in 2020 by Tropical Storm Edouard on July 6.
The Palm Beach Post reported that eight storms breached US shores in 2021, twice the 3-4 average, while Florida alone saw three storms make landfall.
In June, Tropical storm Claudette caused widespread flooding and tornadoes in the South, killing 14 in Alabama.
In July, Elsa created damage in west-central Florida and the Northeast.
In August, Hurricane Ida became Category 4 and became the most destructive to affect Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and caused catastrophic flooding across the northeastern US. Tropical storm Fred caused flooding in the southeastern United States. Category 1 Henri caused localized flooding in the northern mid-Atlantic.
In September, Hurricane Nicholas brought rainfall across coastal Texas and southern Louisiana, triggering additional flooding in areas still reeling from Ida, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Seven storm names were used for the first time in 2021: Elsa, Julian, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, and Wanda, according to Wikipedia. Elsa and Julian replaced retired names, Erika and Joaquin, respectively. Additional retired names, if any, will be announced by the World Meteorological Organization in the spring of 2022.