The global tropical cyclone season of 2008: below average

Posted by: JeffMasters, 5:25 PM GMT on January 08, 2009

It was a below average year for global tropical cyclone activity, and the destructive power of these storms was close to the lowest levels observed since since reliable records began in the early 1980s. However, the the total number of global deaths from tropical cyclones was the highest since 1991, thanks to the estimated 140,000 people killed in Myanmar from Tropical Cyclone Nargis.

The total number of storms world-wide was 90, slightly lower that the average from the past 25 years of 92 (Figure 1). The global number of hurricanes, intense hurricanes (Category 3 and higher), and Category 4 and stronger storms were all below average. Only one Category 5 storm was recorded in 2008--Super Typhoon Jangmi, which attained winds of 165 mph at 06 GMT on September 27, as it approached the north coast of Taiwan.

The last time so few Category 5 storms were recorded globally was in 1974, when there were none. The 2008 hurricane season was much above average in the Atlantic, but the Atlantic only accounts for about 13% of all global tropical cyclone activity.