While a tropical storm (Epsilon) took shape in the Atlantic on Tuesday. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, the busiest and costliest on record, is officially ending today*.
The 2005 season obliterated many long-standing records (from the IJ):
- In 154 years of record-keeping, this year had the most named storms (26, including Tropical Storm Epsilon, which formed Tuesday), the most hurricanes (13), the highest number of major hurricanes hitting the U.S. (4), and the most top-scale Category 5 hurricanes (3).
- Katrina was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928 (more than 1,300 dead) and replaced 1992's Andrew as the most expensive one on record ($34.4 billion in insured losses).
- Total insured losses from hurricanes this year were put at $50.3 billion, an all-time record, according to preliminary analysis by the insurance industry. The previous record of $22.9 billion was set last year when four hurricanes also hit the U.S.
- Wilma was briefly the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of minimum central pressure (882 millibars). It also was the fastest-strengthening storm on record — its top sustained winds increased 105 mph in 24 hours in the Caribbean.
- Forecasters exhausted their list of 21 proper names (Arlene, Bret, Cindy and so on) and had to use the Greek alphabet to name storms for the first time.
Forecasters say 2006 could be another brutal year because the Atlantic is in a period of frenzied hurricane activity that began in 1995 and could last at least another decade. Government hurricane experts say the increase is due to a natural cycle of higher sea temperatures, lower wind shear and other factors, though some scientists blame global warming
*No hurricane has been known to hit the United States between December and May.