BONNIE, the closest storm to Jacksonville, passed over Miami on July 23 with peak winds only 40 mph.

High pressure over the southern U.S. in combination with an upper level trough along the eastern seaboard turned most Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes northward well east of our beaches. Local surfers enjoyed the heavy surf, but strong ocean swells caused dangerous rip currents for late summer beachgoers.

Easterly winds on the southern perimeter of the surface high pressure over the U.S. steered most Caribbean storms westward to the Yucatan peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico. The first storm, ALEX, struck Belize on the eastern side of the Yucatan peninsula. After weakening over land, ALEX regained hurricane strength over the western Gulf with winds reaching 100 mph as it struck the northern Mexico coast south of Brownsville on July 1. Two and a half months later and farther south, the Mexico coast was struck by major hurricane, KARL. This storm became strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Bay of Campeche, surpassing the previous record of 110 mph that occurred with hurricane ITEM in 1950. On September 17, KARL slammed ashore at Veracruz.

Late season storms, NICOLE and TOMAS, turned away from Yucatan, passing to the north and northeast after crossing Cuba and Haiti respectively. NICOLE dissipated over the Florida Straits before reaching the U.S. coast. The last storm of the season, TOMAS, crossed the eastern and central Caribbean as an “on and off” hurricane, regaining hurricane strength as it turned northeastward through the Windward Passage on November 5. It caused heavy rains on parts of western and northern earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

With storm activity displaced elsewhere, rainfall has been lacking over most of our area. As the La Nina cycle continues through our winter months, we will continue on the dry side. The good news is that our winter should be much milder than the bitter winter 2009-2010.



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