(Bloomberg) -- The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season may end upbeing remembered for a subpar number of storms, even though thetotal still beat early forecasts and more than 50 people died.

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The season, which also lags behind in terms of overall power,produced Tropical Storm Erika in August that caused at least 20deaths on Dominica. In October, Hurricane Joaquin sank thefreighter El Faro with the loss of 33 in the Bahamas.

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“That is a lot in an El Nino year,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan, referring tothe Pacific warming phenomenon.

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Tropical Storm Kate is the 11th in the Atlantic this year, orone less than the 30-year average. That beats Colorado StateUniversity’s outlook that called for eight named storms and theU.S. Climate Prediction Center’s August estimate for a 70% chanceof six to 10.

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Systems get names when their winds reach 39 miles (63kilometers) per hour, or tropical storm strength.

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In terms of total power, the 2015 season looks less impressive.Forecasters gauge the power generated by storms using what theycall Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE. It measures the intensityand duration of individual storms, and those figures are added upto get a seasonal total. As of Monday, the Atlantic had acollective ACE of 58, which is much less than the 1981-2010 averageof 106, said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of Colorado State’sseasonal forecast.

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‘Massive bulk’

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“Joaquin has generated the massive bulk of ACE this year: 29 of58 units or 50%,” Klotzbach said. Unless Kate does somethingunpredictable, “it is probably only going to generate 1 or 2 ACEbefore dissipation.”

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Kate is something of an anomaly. With the strong El Nino in thePacific, the jet stream over North America sets up in a way thatmakes wind shear in the Caribbean too strong for a tropical systemto organize during November, Masters said.

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“The configuration of the jet this week just left a little holeover the Bahamas,” he said. Spurred by record warm oceantemperatures, the system took off. It isn’t forecast to last,however. Kate will become a low-level hurricane, and then probablywill be absorbed by a low-pressure system over the Atlantic byThursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

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El Nino

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El Nino is a warming of the equatorial Pacific that causesweather patterns to shift around the world. The warmer sea surfacehas help spur typhoon and hurricane development in that basin,leading to a record number of intense storms.

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The twists that allowed the number of Atlantic storms to beatthe estimates and turned what many thought would be a dull seasondeadly may prove to be a cautionary tale for the future. It alsobore out the warnings from the hurricane center not tounderestimate the power of the tropics no matter what theforecast.

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“There are a lot of people who didn’t live past 1972, 1983 and1992 who can’t tell you that they don’t care what the seasonalforecast is,” center Director Rick Knabb said in a June interview.“We lost a lot of lives in those below-average years.”

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It looks like 2015 can be added to that list.

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