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May-June 2016

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The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Fewer Storms, with Some Highlights

Tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic basin during the 2015 season was below average. Of the 11 tropical storms that formed, four became hurricanes, and two reached major hurricane strength (category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). In comparison, the 1981–2010 averages are 12 tropical storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, a measure that takes into account the strength, duration, and frequency of the season's tropical storms and hurricanes, was 68% of the long-term median value. Most of the season's tropical cyclones occurred well east of the United States, although Tropical Storm Ana made landfall in South Carolina and Tropical Storm Bill made landfall along the central Texas coast. In addition, Hurricane Joaquin battered the southeastern and central Bahamas as a category 4 hurricane, and was the strongest October hurricane known to have affected the Bahamas since 1866. Figure 1 depicts the tracks of the tropical storms and hurricanes of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.

The cyclone summaries are based on Tropical Cyclone Reports prepared by the author and Lixion Avila, Robbie Berg, John Beven II, Eric Blake, John Cangialosi, Todd Kimberlain, and Richard Pasch. These reports are available on the Internet at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2015atlanshtml

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