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Devastating 2022 hurricane season comes to an end. How this season was unusual

WESH Orlando 11/30/2022 Tony Mainolfi
PORT CHARLOTTE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 29: In this aerial view, flooded homes are shown after Hurricane Ian moved through the Gulf Coast of Florida on September 29, 2022 in Port Charlotte, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surges and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) © Win McNamee PORT CHARLOTTE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 29: In this aerial view, flooded homes are shown after Hurricane Ian moved through the Gulf Coast of Florida on September 29, 2022 in Port Charlotte, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surges and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The 2022 hurricane season officially ended Wednesday, Nov. 30. This season's takeaway is it doesn’t take an active hurricane season to be a devastating one, as we found out with Ian and Nicole.

This season saw 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and two major hurricanes. A normal season brings 14, seven, and three. So by the numbers, we had a normal season; however, when we look at the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), which is better at describing the overall intensity and duration of storms, 2022 ended up with an ACE of 95 which is about 80% of average and the lowest since 2015.

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This was a very unusual hurricane season in several ways:

  • There were no named storms between July 3 and Aug. 31, the first time since 1941.
  • Four hurricanes (Danielle, Earl, Fiona and Ian) formed in September.
  • Three hurricanes formed in November (Lisa, Martin and Nicole), the most ever in this month.
  • For the first time since 2014, the first named storm formed after June 1.
  • Six countries had a landfalling hurricane in 2022. Nicaragua (Julia), Belize (Lisa), Cuba (Ian), Dominican Republic (Fiona), United States (Ian and Nicole), and Canada (Fiona).

It was a devastating hurricane season for Florida, as both Ian and Nicole struck Central Florida within a 6-week period, unleashing massive flooding and coastal beach erosion that would bring incredible loss of property. Ian was the season’s most deadly and destructive storm and will likely see its name retired when all is said and done. Ian made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and is tied for the fifth strongest U.S. hurricane at landfall. As it crossed Central Florida, Ian dropped 15-20 inches of rainfall to parts of our region, creating record flooding and record river rises along the St. Johns, Shingle Creek and Little Wekiva. Parts of Central Florida are still seeing elevated river levels on the St. Johns, and this will continue into December.

Hurricane Nicole was the latest calendar year hurricane to make landfall along the east coast of Florida on record. Although not as intense a storm as Ian, Nicole battered our east coast for days, and this took its toll on our dunes, seawalls and coastlines. Massive beach erosion was seen with the two storms occurring in such a short period of time. Property damage from both storms is still being calculated and it will take years to recover for some.

In the wake of both storms, it will be interesting to see what we do along our rivers and coast to help mitigate storm damage going forward. Is there a better way to flow water with an improved system of locks and dams? Will the way homes and condos be built along our coastline change like they did after Andrew? Will sea walls become mandatory?

Stay with WESH as we continue to follow the recovery process along with any changes that may be implemented after the deadly and costly season.

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