Though Louisiana enjoyed a quiet hurricane season — which ended with the turn of the calendar — there was an above-average number of Atlantic storms.
Meteorologists kept expecting an El Niño system, the development of particularly warm water in the Pacific Ocean, to form and beat back tropical storm formation in the Atlantic, but it never came, explained state climatologist Barry Keim. Instead, the season became more active toward the end, he continued.
That's good news for Louisiana, which normally faces the most danger from hurricanes earlier in the season. Toward the end of the season, more storms are shunted up the East Coast. A hurricane has never made landfall in Louisiana in the month of November, Keim said.
Just three storms struck the Gulf Coast in 2018 — Alberto, Gordon and Michael. Gordon came closest to Louisiana, prompting an emergency gear-up that included the mobilization of the National Guard, but it veered east of the state.
"We kind of dodged a bullet there. ... It had almost no effect on Louisiana," Keim said.
Nevertheless, 2018 was a notable season. For the fourth year in a row, tropical storms formed prior to the official June 1 hurricane season start date, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pointed out. And for the first time in a decade, four storms were active at the same time.
The 15 total tropical storms were higher than the average 12. Florence and Michael were the most destructive, ravaging the Carolinas and the Florida panhandle, respectively. Keim expects both names to be retired, as is done with storms that are particularly strong or do significant damage.
He emphasized that just because this year was slow doesn't mean 2019 will be as well.
"You just never know," Keim said.