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The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season in 5 graphics

Hurricane Ida nearing landfall in SE Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2021.
Hurricane Ida nearing landfall in SE Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2021.(WAFB)
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 12:13 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The 2021 hurricane season continued a trend in recent years of above-normal activity in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. A total of 21 named storms formed, with 7 becoming hurricanes, and 4 becoming major (Category 3-5) hurricanes. The named storm count was well above the long-term average of 14, but the hurricane and major hurricane counts were much closer to normal, with 7 hurricanes matching the long-term average, and 4 major hurricanes just slightly above the average of 3.

Tracks of all named storms in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico during the 2021 hurricane season.
Tracks of all named storms in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico during the 2021 hurricane season.(WAFB)

For only the third time on record, the entire list of 21 storm names was exhausted. The other 2 occurrences were 2020 (30 named storms) and 2005 (28 named storms). Had a 22nd named storm formed this year, it would have been the first time that a new alternate list of names would have been used instead of the Greek alphabet. The practice of using Greek names as a backup was retired after the 2020 season.

List of named storms and peak intensities during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. For only...
List of named storms and peak intensities during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. For only the third time on record, the full list of names was exhausted.(WAFB)

The 2021 hurricane season will largely be remembered for the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ida, but perhaps less well remembered will be how good the storm was forecast. From the very first advisory, the National Hurricane Center’s ‘cone of uncertainty’ had the storm pointed toward Louisiana, with only small adjustments in the forecast through landfall. Additionally, it is believed to be the first time that the National Hurricane Center explicitly forecasted rapid intensification beyond 24 hours in the very first advisory.

Animation of all forecast cones of uncertainty issued for Ida by the National Hurricane Center....
Animation of all forecast cones of uncertainty issued for Ida by the National Hurricane Center. The forecast was remarkably accurate, showing Louisiana in the crosshairs from beginning to end.(WAFB)

Not surprisingly, Ida is now among the costliest hurricanes on record to strike the United States. Early estimates from NOAA place damages around $65 billion, making it the 5th costliest U.S. hurricane landfall on record. For comparison, Laura produced roughly $20 billion in damages and ranks as the 16th costliest on record. Katrina continues to top that list, with damages of nearly $180 billion when adjusted for inflation.

The 5 costliest U.S. hurricane landfalls on record. Early estimates from NOAA place Ida's...
The 5 costliest U.S. hurricane landfalls on record. Early estimates from NOAA place Ida's damages around $65 billion, making it the 5th costliest on record.(WAFB)

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