06 December 2013

Global Tropical Cyclone Landfalls 2013

Last year Jessica Weinkle, Ryan Maue and I published a paper in the Journal of Climate on trends in global landfalling hurricanes (the paper and data can be found here). At the global level, our paper concludes that the data is good from 1970. Our analysis went through 2010.
Weinkle, J, R Maue and R Pielke (2012), Historical Global Tropical Cyclone Landfalls. J. Clim. 25:4729-4735
With 2013 almost in the books I asked Ryan if he could provide a preliminary tabulation of the 2013 data (note that the data could be revised from these initial estimates, and 2013 is still not quite over).

At the top of this post is the dataset from 1970 first presented in our paper, updated using the same methods through 2013 (remember that there are a few weeks left in the year). In short, 2013 is an average year with 15 total landfalls (15.4 is average) of which 5 characterized as major (4.7 is the average).

Here are some updated statistics summarized from the data:
  • Over 1970 to 2013 the globe averaged about 15 TC landfalls per year (Category 1-5)
  • Of those 15, about 5 are intense (Category 3, 4 or 5) 
  • 1971 had the most global landfalls with 30, far exceeding the second place, 25 in 1996
  • 1978 had the fewest with 7
  • 2011 tied for second place for the fewest global landfalls with 10 (and 3 were intense, tying 1973, 1981 and 2002)
  • Five years share the most intense TC landfalls with 9, most recently 2008.
  • 1981 had the fewest intense TC landfalls with zero
  • The US is currently in the midst of the longest streak ever recorded without an intense hurricane landfall 
  • The past 4 years have seen 15 major landfalling hurricanes, very much on the lower end of activity but not unprecedented -- 1984-1987 had just 11. The most is 35 (2005-2008). 
  • The past 4 years have seen 51 total landfalling hurricanes, also on the low end -- the least is 41 (1978-1981) and the most is 80 (four periods, most recently 2004-2007).
  • There have been frequent four-year periods with more than 25 landfalling major hurricanes, or more than a 60% increase of what has been observed over the past 4 years. 
There is even evidence in our paper (see our Figure 2) that the period before 1970 saw more intense hurricane landfalls than the period since. Older data from the North Atlantic and Western North Pacific (which together represents 64% of all global intense landfalling hurricanes 1970-2010 and 69% of all hurricanes) indicates that landfalling intense hurricanes in these two basins occurred at a 40% higher rate from 1950-1969 than 1970-2010. There were 9 intense landfalls in 1964 and 1965 in just these two basins, which equals the global record for all basins post-1970.

Here is a montage of 2013 activity:

For those interested in the details, here from Ryan are the preliminary details for 2013 to date:

2013 North Atlantic:  1 minor hurricane
  •   Ingrid 65-knots
2013 North East Pacific: 2 minor hurricanes
  •   Barbara 65-knots
  •   Manuel 65-knots
2013 Northern Indian: 1 major hurricane
  •   Phailin 120-knots 
2013 North Western Pacific: 6 minor hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes = total 9 hurricanes (typhoons)
  •   Utor 120-knots (major)
  •   Trami 75-knots
  •   Usagi 80-knots
  •   Wutip 80-knots
  •   Nari 105-knots (major)
  •   Krosa 90-knots
  •   Haiyan 160-knots (major) 
  •   Fitow 65-knots
  •   Soulik 80-knots
2013 Southern Hemisphere: 2 minor hurricanes
  •   Haruna 90-knots
  •   Rusty 95-knots 

1. We are not finished with 2013.  This is calendar year only.
2. Tracks outside of NHC responsibility are not best-tracks or post-storm reanalysis but real-time ATCF.  NHC has mostly finalized their East Pac & NATL tracks, however.
3. All intensity values are 1-minute maximum sustained wind which is used by NHC and JTWC, the source of our historical TC dataset (and this one).
4. Actual instantaneous landfall intensity is unknowable.

Lots more great data and graphs, including the one below on total global tropical cyclone activity (not just those that make landfall) at his website here.