Hurricane Season leaves its mark in the record books

While the U.S. was largely spared during the 2011 Hurricane Season, it will still go down in the record books as one of the most active in recorded history. Over the course of the season, 120 people lost their lives and over $11 billion in property was damaged by tropical weather.

Nineteen Tropical Storms formed during the season, the third most since record keeping began and eight above the yearly average. Of the Tropical Storms, seven became Hurricanes which is one above the average. Three strengthened into Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) with the strongest being Ophelia, which reached category 4 strength with winds of 140 mph.

Lee was the only Tropical Storm to make U.S. landfall, coming ashore along the Louisiana coast with winds of 45 mph. With movement nearly stationary at the time, Lee dumped tremendous amounts of rain along the Gulf Coast causing widespread flooding.

Irene was the only Hurricane to strike the U.S., making landfall along the Outer Banks of North Carolina and then again in New Jersey. At its peak, Irene intensified to a Category 3 with winds of 120 mph but weakened to a Category 1 with winds of 85 mph when the storm made its first landfall. By the time Irene made its second landfall along the New Jersey Coast it was a low-end Category 1 with winds of 75 mph. This was the first storm to make a landfall in New Jersey in 108 years. Irene left 55 people dead and $10 billion in damage in her wake.

Irene was the first land falling U.S. Hurricane since Hurricane Ike in 2008. No major hurricanes struck the U.S. in 2011, making it 2,232 days since a major hurricane (Wilma in 2005) has made landfall; the longest such stretch on record.

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