ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — We finally made it: Wednesday, Nov. 30, marks the official close to the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
This year's hurricane season produced 14 named storms, eight of which became hurricanes. Two intensified into major hurricanes — hurricanes Fiona and Ian.
Ian hit southwest Florida on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 storm with wind speeds of 155 mph, just shy of Category 5 strength (157mph). The highest recorded wind gust with Ian was 140 mph in Cape Coral, Florida, north of where the storm made landfall on Cayo Costa.
Fort Myers and Sanibel, along with several southwest Florida counties, experienced major devastation from Ian. This included homes washed away, overflowed rivers causing flooding, damaged citrus crops and longstanding power outages.
The highest rain total, however, was recorded near Orlando in Union Park where 21.16" of rain came down. This caused many central and south Florida rivers and streams to flood, adding to further damage and loss across the state.
One-hundred and thirty-seven fatalities resulted from Hurricane Ian in the state of Florida, with damage costs being estimated at up to $40 billion.
Hurricane Ian tied for the fifth strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States.
NOAA says an average hurricane season (1991-2020) has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
This year's named storms included Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Martin and Nicole.
NOAA describes the 2022 hurricane season as "unique" as it "was defined by a rare mid-season pause in storms that scientists preliminarily believe was caused by increased wind shear and suppressed atmospheric moisture high over the Atlantic Ocean."
"After a quiet period in August, activity ramped up in September with seven named storms, including the two major hurricanes — Fiona and Ian — seen this season. The season also included a rare late-season storm with Hurricane Nicole making landfall on November 10 along the east coast of Florida," according to NOAA.
This was also the first year since 2017 (Irma) that the Florida Peninsula took a direct hit from a hurricane. To add to a few oddities of the 2022 hurricane season, November proved to be especially active with three hurricanes developing during a time of the season that typically sees activity wind down.
November 2022 was only the fourth November on record with three hurricanes. Two of the three hurricanes were active at the same time (Martin & Nicole), which has only happened twice before in the month of November.
NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew over 582 mission hours to collect data critical to hurricane forecasting. Those forecasts are part of the National Hurricane Center's public advisories while tracking a storm. The aircraft passed through the eye of a hurricane 65 times.
NOAA's National Ocean Service also captured thousands of aerial overflight images of Hurricane Ian. With these pictures, scientists were able to record more than 6,000 potential pollution risks.