Ten-Year Gap in Major Hurricanes Continues

Narration: Joy Ng


These lines represent hurricane tracks over the Atlantic Ocean. Green lines are hurricanes that didn’t make landfall. Yellow lines are hurricanes that did but where less than Category 3 and it shows that 10 years have passed since the U.S. has had the landfall of a Category 3 or higher hurricane.

Hurricanes are labeled as ‘major’ storms when they reach Category 3 or higher, which means they have winds greater than 111mph.

Of course hurricanes less than Category 3 can still cause extreme damage with heavy rains and coastal storm surges.

So what are the chances of a major hurricane making landfall in 2016? This shows the record of hurricane tracks for the last few decades.

Red lines are the major Category 3 or higher hurricanes that did make landfall.

You can see that major hurricanes don’t make landfall every year but some years several major hurricanes do make landfall.

2005 was the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. It’s then followed by a 10-year gap, which is the longest period for the U.S. to avoid a Category 3 or higher hurricane since reliable records began in 1850.

Based off the hurricane record, a NASA study used a model to gauge hurricane activity. They found that a 10-year gap only comes along every 270 years.

But this doesn’t mean that the U.S. is more likely to get a storm this year. The study also found that the chance of one or more Category 3 storms hitting our coasts is roughly 40% every year including 2016.

Scientists don’t know what’s caused this 10-year gap but we can be sure that major hurricanes have been out there, they just haven’t made landfall.