2007 hurricane season comes to an end: More fizzle than fear

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Nov. 30 marks the official end of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane season, which began June 1 with dire predictions for a busy, destructive period but which turned out to be a milder season than originally forecast for the U.S.

The same did not hold true for parts of the Caribbean, Central American and Mexico, although the 2007 season fell far short of the devastatingly destructive record-setting 2005 season with 15 hurricanes that careened across the Caribbean, Mexico, the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida carrying names such as Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

For 2007, the weather experts, who had predicted 17 named storms, retreated to their charts and analyses in mid-season and revised their numbers downward.

This year brought 14 named storms, including six hurricanes, only one of which made U.S. landfall. Humberto was a compact storm and came ashore in September in a sparsely settled section of the Texas coast, causing no damage.

However, further south, the 14 storms resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people in Martinique, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico.

Banana crops were ruined, sugarcane fields were flooded, homes were swept away and roads were rendered impassable.

Hurricane Dean made it to the record books in August as the first hurricane of the 2007 season, the first Category 5 storm (winds above 156 mph) to make landfall since Hurricane Andrew slammed south Florida in 1992 and the storm with the third lowest barometric pressure readings since record keeping began in the 1930s.

Dean also caused the postponement of the national elections in Jamaica, which had been set for Aug. 27, and destroyed a cruise ship pier in Mexico.

Hurricane Felix, the second Category 5 storm this season, soaked much of the Caribbean and pummeled the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras, killing 102 in its wake.

Noel in early November, and the last storm of the season (it reached minimal hurricane status before dissipating), soaked parts of the Caribbean, triggering landslides, mudslides, evacuations and a death toll of more than 150 as rivers broke their banks and surged through towns, according to officials in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Major tourist areas were not affected.

Phil Klotzback, head of the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team, said that vertical wind shears and cooler sea temperatures accounted for the lower-than-predicted number of hurricanes.

No one is complaining, however.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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