There were a record 27 named storms, of which 15 were hurricanes, exceeding
the 1969 record of 12 hurricanes, and 7 were major hurricanes. Of the 7
major hurricanes, an unprecendented 4 reached category 5 status. The season
was remarkable for its early beginning and number of storms as well as the
intensity of the hurricanes, including the most intense hurricane on record
for the Atlantic. Many records were broken during the season and a list of
the most notable are available at the end of this summary.
Since reliable records began around the middle of the 20th century (1944)
with routine reconnaisance aircraft missions, no season has exceeded 19
named storms until 2005. However, it is known that at least one other season
exceeded 20 named storms before 1944 and that was 1933 (21). Prior to the
launch of satellites in the 1970s, and particularly before the routine
reconnaissance aircraft missions, it was difficult to detect storms that did
not affect land or ships, and it is therefore likely that activity in some
seasons before the middle of the 20th century is underestimated.
Instead of examining only the number of tropical storms and hurricanes as an
indicator of activity, NOAA's Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index takes into
account the cumulative strength and duration of each storm. As shown in the
figure to the right, 2005 is the third most active season on record behind
1950 and 1995 in terms of the ACE index. Tropical cyclone activity in the
Atlantic basin has been above normal since 1995. This has been largely in
response to the active phase of the multi-decadal signal. The average number
of named storms since 1995 has been 13, compared to 8.6 during the preceding
25 years during which time the multi-decadal signal was in an inactive
phase. An average of 7.7 hurricanes and 3.6 major hurricanes since 1995
compares to 5 hurricanes and 1.5 major hurricanes from 1970-1994.
Characteristics of an active multi-decadal signal in the Atlantic include:
warmer SSTs in the tropical Atlantic region, an amplified sub-tropical ridge
at upper levels across the central and eastern North Atlantic, reduced
vertical wind shear in the deep tropics over the central North Atlantic, and
an African Easterly Jet (AEJ) that is favorable for promoting the
development and intensification of tropical disturbances moving westward off
the coast of Africa. Recent studies also indicate that in addition to this
multi-decadal oscillation the destructive power of hurricanes has generally
increased since the mid-1970s, when the period of the most rapid increase in
global ocean and land temperatures began.
2005 Atlantic Ocean Tropical Cyclones
||Landfall and Strike
Information (date, location and sustained winds)
||Estimated cost of
the US (in US dollars)**
||6/11/05 - Pensacola FL (50 kt)
||6/29/05 - Tuxpan, Mexico (35 kt)
||7/5/05 - Grand Isle, LA (65 kt)
||7/8/05 - Cuba (Cat 4); 7/10/05 - Pensacola FL (105 kt)
||over $2 billion total losses,
over $1 billion insured losses
||7/14/05 - Grenada (80 kt); 7/18/05 - Cozumel, Mexico(115 kt);
7/18/05 - Tulum (Yucatan) Mexico (115 kt), 7/20/05 - San Fernando,
Mexico (110 kt)
||7/24/05 - Cabo Rojo, Mexico (40 kt)
||8/23/05 - NW of Veracruz, Mexico (45 kt)
||8/25/05 - Hollywood, FL (70 kt); 8/29/05 Buras, LA (110 kt) and
Ansley, MS (105 kt)
||over $100 billion total losses, over
$34 billion insured losses
||Struck North Carolina, but did not make official landfall
||9/24/05 - Between Sabine Pass TX and Johnson's Bayou LA (105 kt)
||over $10 billion total losses, at least
$4.7 billion insured losses
||10/2/05 - Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (40 kt); 10/4/05 - SE of
Veracruz, Mexico (70 kt)
||10/5/05 - Jacksonville FL (45 kt)
||10/21/05 - Cozumel, Mexico (120 kt); 10/22/05 - Playa del
Carmen, Mexico (115 kt); 10/24/05 - near Everglades City, FL (105 kt)
||over $12 billion total losses,
over $6 billion insured losses
||10/30/05 - Nicaragua (90 kt)
Overview of the 2005 hurricane season:
The 2005 season began early with Tropical Storm Arlene forming on June 9th
from a tropical depression in the southwest Caribbean Sea. Tropical Storm
Bret also formed in June making it only the 13th time since 1851 that 2
tropical storms are known to have formed in June.
A record active July followed, wherein 5 named storms (Cindy, Dennis, Emily,
Franklin and Gert) formed. The previous record for the number of named
storms in July was four. Of the 5 named storms, 2 major hurrianes formed
tying a record set in 1916. The seven named storms that had formed up until
the end of July represented a record level of activity for the first two
months of the season.
A further five named storms formed in August of which two were hurricanes
bringing the seasonal total to 12 named storms and 4 hurricanes - well above
the long term average as of August 31st, which is 4.4 storms and 2.1
hurricanes. August also saw the development of Hurricane Katrina, which will
likely be one of the most costly and destructive storms in US history. At
one stage a category 5 hurricane, Katrina ultimately made landfall in
Louisiana and Mississippi at category 3 strength. While loss of life will
not approach the magnitude of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (6000-12000
deaths), it nonetheless caused more than 1,300 deaths and will likely cost
more than 100 billion dollars - by far the highest cost of any hurricane in
history. A special NOAA technical summary of Katrina is available.
In September, five hurricanes formed leading to a seasonal total nearly
double the June-September average number of named storms. In only one other
year (1933) had this many storms (17) formed by the end of September. The
2005 season eventually surpassed 1933 for the number of named tropical
cyclones. The third category five hurricane of the season developed in
September - Hurricane Rita. Impacting the Florida Keys and eventually the
Texas/Louisiana border, it prompted massive evacuations along the Gulf Coast
and caused widespread damage in parts of Southwest Louisiana, just weeks
after Katrina impacted the state. Hurricane Ophelia also impacted the US as
it raked the North Carolina coast leading to 10-12 inches of rain for
coastal areas as well as significant coastal erosion.
October produced some unusual tropical activity and the most intense
Atlantic hurricane on record. Six named storms formed during the month
leading to an extension of the naming system to include the Greek alphabet.
Hurricane Wilma entered the record books in October as having the lowest
central pressure of any Atlantic hurricane at 882 mb, beating Hurricane
Gilbert in 1988 with 888 mb. At one stage a category 5 storm, Wilma produced
well over 60 inches of rain as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula, then
turned northeastward and eventually made landfall in Florida as a category 3
storm. Hurricane Vince was unusual in its track and location. Vince became a
hurricane in the eastern Atlantic and tracked northeastward, passing
northwest of the Madeira Islands. Weakening, it eventually made landfall in
Spain as a tropical depression. It is the first known instance of a tropical
cyclone making landfall in Spain. Tammy impacted northeast Florida as a
tropical storm and Tropical Storm Alpha and Hurricane Beta also formed in
October. For the first time since the naming convention was instituted, the
Greek alphabet had to be employed as the 22nd named storm of the season
developed. Alpha produced heavy rains across portions of Hispaniola, while
Beta became a major (category 3) hurricane as it neared the coast of
Nicaragua, eventually making landfall at category 2.
In November, 3 further storms formed, Tropical Storm Gamma, Tropical Storm
Delta, and Hurricane Epsilon. Gamma formed from the remnants of the 27th
tropical depression of the season near the Honduras coast and moved very
little before weakening to a tropical depression early on the 20th. Heavy
rains associated with Gamma significantly impacted Honduras leading to 12
deaths, flooding and landslides. Tropical Storm Delta formed in the eastern
Atlantic and recurved to threaten the Canary Islands and coastal North
Africa. The storm weakened to a depression northwest of the Canary Islands,
but still caused significant damage, killing 7 people. Hurricane Epsilon
formed on the 29th in the central Atlantic just north of 30°N. After moving
west-southwestward while strengthening, Epsilon turned to move
east-northeastward at the end of the month and became a hurricane on
December 2nd. Continuing to strengthen, despite moving over cooler waters,
Epsilon reached a maximum sustained windspeed of 80 mph and hurricane
strength winds persisted for 5 days, with a brief intervening period of
winds just below hurricane strength. Epsilon was only the 6th December
hurricane ever recorded.
The 27th named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Zeta, formed on December
30th and remained in open central North Atlantic waters for its entire
existence. Moving generally torwards the west, Zeta was sustained for 8 days
and achieved maximum windspeeds of 65 mph on January 3rd. Zeta weakened to a
Tropical Depression on the 6th and lost tropical characteristics the same
- 27 named storms formed during the 2005 season. This is the
most named storms in a single season, breaking the old record of
21 named storms set in 1933.
- 14 hurricanes formed during the 2005 season. This is the
most hurricanes in a single season, breaking the old record of
12 hurricanes set in 1969.
- 7 major (Category 3 or high on the Saffir-Simpson scale)
hurricanes formed during the 2005 season. This ties the season
record for major hurricanes, first set in 1950.
- Four Category 5 hurricanes formed during the 2005 season
(Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma). This is the most Category 5
hurricanes recorded in a single season, breaking the old record
of two category 5 hurricanes set in 1960 and 1961.
Seven named storms made United States landfall
during 2005 (Arlene, Cindy, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Tammy and
Wilma). This puts the 2005 season in a tie for second place for
landfalling storms behind the 1916 and 2004 seasons where eight
named storms made landfall.An eighth storm brushed the coast of
North Carolina in 2005, but did not make an offical landfall.
- The 2005 season was the most destructive for United States
landfalling storms, largely due to Hurricane Katrina. Damage
estimates for the 2005 season are over $100 billion dollars.
- Five named storms formed (Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin,
and Gert). This is the most on record for the month.
- Two major hurricanes formed (Dennis and Emily). This is the
most on record.
- Five named storms formed (Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina and
Lee). Only 1990, 1995 and 2004 have had more than five named
storms form during the month of August.
- Five hurricanes formed (Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe and
Rita). This ties 1955, 1969, 1981, 1998 and 2000 for the most
hurricanes to form during the month of September.
- Six named storms formed (Stan, Tammy, Vince, Wilma, Alpha
and Beta). This ties 1950 for the most named storm formations
during the month of October.
- Four hurricanes formed (Stan, Vince, Wilma and Beta). Only
1950 had more hurricanes develop during the month of October.
- Two intense hurricanes formed (Wilma and Beta). This ties
1950, 1961, 1964 and 1995 for the most intense hurricanes to
form during the month of October.
- no records were set in November, though it was active
compared to average DECEMBER
- Hurricane Epsilon was only the 6th hurricane to ever exist
in the month of December.
INDIVIDUAL STORM RECORDS
- Dennis became the most intense hurricane on record before
August when a central pressure of 930 mb was recorded.
- Emily eclipsed the record previously set by Dennis for
lowest pressure recorded for a hurricane before August when its
central pressure reached 929 mb.
- Emily was the earliest category 5 storm on record.
- Katrina's central pressure dropped to 902mb. At the time, it
was the fourth lowest pressure ever measured in the Atlantic
- Katrina's central pressure at landfall was 920 mb. This is
the third lowest pressure recorded at landfall behind the
Florida Keys storm of 1935 - 892mb and Hurricane Camille of 1969
- 909 mb.
- Katrina became the most destructive storm on record with an
estimated $50 billion dollars in insured damage. This shatters
the old record of approximately $25 billion dollars (normalized
to 2005 dollars) in insured damage set by Hurricane Andrew
- Rita's central pressure dropped to 897 mb. At the time, it
was the third lowest pressure ever measured in the Atlantic
- Vince was the furthest north and east that a storm has ever
developed in the Atlantic basin.
- Vince was the first tropical cyclone in recorded history to
strike the Iberian Peninsula.
- Wilma reached Category 5 intensity. Wilma was the fourth
Category 5 of the season. This is the first time that four
Category 5 storms have formed in one year, breaking the record
of two Category 5 storms set in 1960 and equaled in 1961.
- Wilma's central pressure dropped to 882mb. It was the lowest
pressure ever measured in the Atlantic basin, eclipsing the old
record of 888 mb set by Hurricane Gilbert (1988).
- Alpha became the 22nd named storm of the 2005 season. This
breaks the old record of 21 named storms set in 1933.
- Beta became the 13th hurricane of the 2005 season. This
breaks the old record of 12 hurricanes set in 1969.