Scientists anticipated that 2016 could be an active year for hurricanes. It appears that they may have been right. Now, as we approach the last weeks of the Atlantic hurricane season, here is a look at the hurricanes of 2016.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June through November, with the most storm activity occurring during a smaller window in the middle of the season. Mother Nature has a tendency to assert her independence though, and this was seen this year when Hurricane Alex formed in January. Hurricane Alex was the first Atlantic hurricane to form in January since 1955.
Hurricane Earl began forming in late July, and made landfall in Belize on August 4. The storm had winds of up to 80 mph at its peak before hitting land. Despite being relatively modest for a hurricane, this storm was responsible for several deaths and a lot of property damage.
Hurricane Gaston was first noticed off the coast of Africa as it was developing on August 17. The storm built in intensity several times before tapering off, and had wind speeds on 120 mph on several occasions. Fortunately, Hurricane Gaston weakened while still at sea.
Hurricane Hermine started to form near Cape Verde on August 18 and pushed its way into the Caribbean Sea before heading for the Gulf of Mexico. The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on September 2, but quickly weakened after hitting land.
Hurricane Matthew was first noticed as it began to form in late September near the coast of Africa. As the storm moved across the sea, it intensified until at one point it was a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds of up to 160 mph. Hurricane Matthew was the first Category 5 hurricane since 2007. This storm hit Haiti on October 4 and Cuba on October 5 as a Category 4 storm. On October 6, Hurricane Matthew passed near Melbourne, Florida with winds of 130 mph. The storm continued north from Florida, eventually making landfall over South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane on October 8.
Hurricane Matthew was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in the past decade. Nearly 900 people were killed in Haiti alone, with deaths also reported in St. Vincent, Colombia, and the U.S. This storm prompted officials to order evacuation for millions of coastal residents. As Hurricane Matthew worked its way up the coast, it contributed to more than one dozen deaths and billions of dollars in damage to property and infrastructure.
While hurricane season continues to be a threat for several more weeks, the damage from the hurricanes of 2016 is already staggering. Nearly 1,000 people have died during the storms this year, and property damage is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.