Today one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record comes to an end. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is quick to point out that although a total of 19 named storms formed, the extremely active season was a ‘gentle giant’ for the U.S. That is because none of the 12 storms that developed into hurricanes–including five that reached “major hurricane” status of a Category 3 or higher–in the Atlantic actually struck the U.S. In fact, no major Category 3 or stronger hurricanes have hit the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

The storm activity unfolded somewhat predictably, as the ranges NOAA specified in its seasonal outlooks were on target: On May 27, 2010, NOAA forecasted 14 to 23 named storms; 8 to 14 hurricanes; and 3 to 7 major hurricanes. On August 5, 2010, the federal agency slightly revised its projections to 14 to 20 named storms; 8 to 12 hurricanes; and 4 to 6 major hurricanes. According to NOAA, an average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.

In a press release, NOAA explained that large-scale climate features strongly influenced the year’s hurricane activity, noting that the record warm Atlantic waters, combined with the favorable winds coming off Africa and weak wind shear aided by La Ni?a fueled developing storms.

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