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Looking back at 2005, the last time hurricane season went Greek

2005 was the most active hurricane season until now

1. Katrina: $160.2 billion, Aug. 2005 (Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi)
1. Katrina: $160.2 billion, Aug. 2005 (Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi)

With the 29th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season skimming past Central Florida and potentially a 30th named storm sitting in the Caribbean, this season is one for the record books. It was just 15 years ago there was a hyperactive season that set the bar in terms of tropical records. Meteorologists have often compared the 2020 hurricane season with 2005. Until recently it was the record holder with 28 named storms, one of which formed in December.

The 2005 tropical season started off with tropical storms Arlene and Bret forming in June, making it only the second time in history to have happened.

July kicked it up a notch with five named storms; Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, and Gert. Dennis and Emily were major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) which tied the 1916 record for the month.

This level of activity set a record for the first two months of the tropical season. The records kept on coming.

Tracks and intensity of the 2005 hurricane season. 2020 has broken several records when it comes to how many storms of formed, but 2005 already had to major hurricanes to date.
Tracks and intensity of the 2005 hurricane season. 2020 has broken several records when it comes to how many storms of formed, but 2005 already had to major hurricanes to date.

August came around, also with five named storms. Katrina was among the five leaving behind billions of dollars in damages which can still be seen to this day in parts of New Orleans. Katrina is one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history with over 1,800 deaths.

Flooding in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina (2005).
Flooding in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina (2005). (NOAA Photo Library)

September rolled around and another 5 named storms came about, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe and Rita. This tied the record from 2000 for the most hurricanes to form during the month. Just weeks after Katrina, Hurricane Rita, at one point the second category 5 hurricane to form, impacted the Keys and then the Texas/Louisiana border.

2005: Hurricane Rita makes landfall in the United States as a Category 3 hurricane, devastating Beaumont, Texas, and portions of southwestern Louisiana, and causing $12 billion in damages to the U.S. Gulf Coast in total.
2005: Hurricane Rita makes landfall in the United States as a Category 3 hurricane, devastating Beaumont, Texas, and portions of southwestern Louisiana, and causing $12 billion in damages to the U.S. Gulf Coast in total. (Win Henderson/FEMA)

October was not quiet. In fact, six named storms not only exhausted the list of names in 2005, but became the first time in history the National Hurricane Center ever had to use the Greek alphabet to name storms. With six storms named in the month it tied the record if the most named storm formations during the month since 1950.

November has proven to be busy at times and 2005 was no exception. Three more named storms formed. Tropical Storms Gamma and Delta and Hurricane Epsilon. Epsilon reached hurricane status on Dec. 2 becoming only the 6th hurricane ever to do so.

On October 23, 2005, the GOES spacecraft captured this image of both Hurricane Wilma and Tropical Storm Alpha, the record breaker
On October 23, 2005, the GOES spacecraft captured this image of both Hurricane Wilma and Tropical Storm Alpha, the record breaker (NASA/NOAA)

To round out the year, Tropical Storm Zeta formed on Dec. 30and wandered around the Atlantic through the almost the entire first week of the New Year falling apart on Jan. 7.

To sum it up, 2005 consisted of 15 hurricanes of which eight became major hurricanes with four of those reaching category 5 status. It was the first time a season had exceed 21 named storms with a record 28 tropical cyclones named in a season since 1933. With 15 hurricanes this also set a record, beating out the old record of 12 from the 1969 season.


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