Hurricane, cyclone, and typhoon are all terms for the same phenomenon (technically tropical cyclone) in different parts of the world. They all refer to a tropical storm with sustained wind speeds of at least 74 mph.
The U.S. is currently going through an extended period of hurricane inactivity, with no major hurricanes making landfall in the last 11 years.
And as a result, hurricanes have not received the media attention the deserve.From a worldwide perspective, last year’s tropical storm season was the most intense in recorded history.
In the U.S., no major hurricane has made landfall since hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Dennis struck back in 2005. A hurricane is considered “major” when it reaches category 3 status, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
That puts the U.S. in a hurricane drought of 11 years and counting, the longest in recorded history. The previous record of 8 years dates back to the 19th century, between 1861 and 1869.
While the U.S. has been experiencing a hurricane drought, at least in terms of hurricanes making landfall, the northern hemisphere just had the most active tropical storm season in recorded history.
Tropical storm records set in 2015:
- Most major storms: Last year, the world saw 30 major storms (category 3 or higher), far above the previous record of 23, set in 2004.
- Most powerful storm: Hurricane Patricia, which formed off the coast of Mexico last October, had sustained wind speeds that peaked at 215 mph, faster than any tropical storm ever recorded.
- 2 major storms in the Arabian Sea: The Arabian Sea, where tropical storms are uncommon due to its dry and windy climate, had 2 major cyclones last year. Before last year, only 6 major cyclones had ever been recorded in the Arabian Sea.
- Easternmost hurricane: In September of last year, Hurricane Fred struck Cabo Verde, traveling further east in the Atlantic than any previous hurricane.
- Latest hurricane: Though technically part of the 2016 season, hurricane Alex became only the second ever documented January hurricane. Alex attained hurricane status on 1/14/2016, 10 days later than the previous January hurricane, which became a hurricane on 1/4/1938.