The 2005 Hurricane Season followed the most destructive year since records began. All early indicators pointed to yet another extremely active season, but it was inconceivable that anything could be worse than 2004. However, the 2005 Hurricane Season surpassed even the worst forecasts, becoming the most active and most destructive season on record, with 27 named storms forming and U.S. damages alone in the neighborhood of $200 Billion. The normal annual hurricane list of storms "only" contained 21 names and the National Hurricane Center was forced to begin using the Greek Alphabet for the first time ever when the 22nd named storm, Tropical Storm Alpha, formed in October.
The season got off to a record start, with 7 named storms by the end of July, including 2 Category 4 hurricanes (Dennis and Emily). Dennis struck the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 storm and Emily made a double landfall in Mexico.
August brought 5 more named storms, with Category 5 Hurricane Katrina becoming the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Katrina made landfall on August 29 just east of New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds. The storm surge and resulting devastation to the central Gulf coast was worse than that caused by 1969's Hurricane Camille, the previous benchmark storm. Early damage estimates are running as high as $200 billion, far outstripping the estimated $25 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The death toll from Katrina has been estimated at over 1,300...ranking in the top 5 deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history and the most deadly since the advent of the satellite era. No hurricane since 1928 had been responsible for more than 1,000 deaths in the United States.
September brought 5 more named sytems, with Hurricane Ophelia taunting the Southeast U.S. coast for days before scraping by the North Carolina Outer Banks, causing scattered damage typical of a Category 1 storm. Monster Category 5 Hurricane Rita formed in the Gulf just 3 weeks after Katrina's onslaught and a repeat tragedy was feared. However, Rita weakened somewhat before landfall and came ashore near the Texas/Louisiana border during the early morning hours of Sept. 24 as a Category 3 storm. Damage was extensive with several small southwest Louisiana towns virtually destroyed. More than 100 people were killed by Rita.
October saw another 6 named storms, with Hurricane Stan forming in early October in the NW Caribbean. Stan crossed the Yucatan Peninsula into the Gulf, then turned southwest into Mexico. The torrential rains and resulting floods were responsible for more than 1,000 deaths in Guatemala and neighboring Central American countries. Hurricane Wilma formed in the Central Caribbean in mid October. The storm strenthened into the season's third Category 5 hurricane, with a central pressure measured by reconaissance at 882mb...the lowest ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. Wilma made landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 4 hurricane, causing catastrophic damage to the Mexican resorts of Cancun and Cozumel. Wilma then turned NE and made landfall on the southwest Florida coast as a Category 3 hurricane with 125mph winds. Damage was severe with widespread power outages. Early insured losses are estimated in Florida at $6-$12 Billion.
The season's record breaking 23rd named storm, Hurricane Beta, formed in late October and made landfall in Central America. November saw 3 more tropical storms form, a record for the month. On December 2, the season's 26th named storm, Epsilon, reached hurricane strength, bringing the season's total to 14...yet another record. The incredible 27th and final named system of the 2005 Hurricane Season was Tropical Storm Zeta, which was classified on December 30 and was tracked well into January, 2006.
Hurricane and Tropical Storm wind swaths for the 2005 Hurricane Season
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