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NOAA: Hurricane season quietest since 1997

By Ed O'Keefe

The 2009 hurricane season ends today and no tropical storms or hurricanes hit the United States for the first time in three years -- making 2009 the quietest hurricane season in 12 years.

The quieter season comes thanks to El Niño, the disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the Pacific that impacts water temperatures in the Caribbean.

“El Niño produced strong wind shear across the Caribbean Sea and western tropical Atlantic, which resulted in fewer and shorter-lived storms compared to some recent very active seasons," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which tracks and names the storms.

Tropical systems Claudette and Ida delivered tropical storm-force winds to the U.S., but did not make landfall as hurricanes. The final numbers released Monday mesh with NOAA's predictions made earlier this year.

The quieter season also means it was a quieter year for the government's hurricane hunters. The crews -- which use NOAA and Air Force aircraft -- flew only 38 reconnaissance missions this year, down from 169 in 2008.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 30, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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