With the 2019 Hurricane Season firmly in the rearview mirror, we are tempted to look back at previous years and compare data, but normally we only tend to compare a span of a few years, hoping to see trends that may help us to better predict the coming Hurricane Seasons. But what significant changes might we see if we did a head to head comparison of this last hurricane season with its predecessor 100 years ago?
There is no doubt that the world has changed dramatically over the last 100 years and so I was pretty sure when I was drafting this article that I’d see significant disparities in the data from the two eras. In this article, I will do my best to only relay the information to you without trying to cast any inferences. I will leave you to make any judgments that you will from the data provided.
The 1919 Hurricane Season
1919 was one of the slowest years on record for hurricanes in the Atlantic. The first system formed on June 1st, and the last system dissipated on November 15th. There was a total of 5 tropical depressions that year. Each of the tropical depressions became a tropical storm. There were 2 hurricanes with 1 becoming a major hurricane – rated category 3 or higher. The category 4 hurricane was named ‘Florida Keys’ with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.
Despite this being one of the quieter years in the Atlantic, loss of life was still substantial with 828 fatalities from tropical storm and hurricane activity. This all led to USD $22 million in damage, which is approximately USD $327 million in today’s money, taking into account inflation.
The 2019 Hurricane Season
2019 saw 20 tropical depressions with the first system forming on the 20th of May, and the last system of the season dissipating on the 25th of November. Of the 20 tropical depressions, 18 became tropical storms, and 6 reaching full hurricane status. In 2019, there were 3 major hurricanes that registered at category 3 or higher. The strongest hurricane for that year was Hurricane Dorian with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph. Because of better infrastructure and more of a focus on hurricane preparedness and protection, the loss of life was around 111 people. The cost of the damage caused by these storms came in at an incredible USD $11.38 billion dollars. This season is notable with it being only the seventh season on record to feature multiple category 5 hurricanes.
The numbers speak for themselves and even the most hard-lined climate change skeptic can’t deny that there is an increase in quantity and intensity of hurricane seasons today in comparison with those 100 years ago. While we may not be able to curb the negative effects of climate change on our own, we certainly can do our best to be prepared for whatever nature throws at us for 2020 and beyond.