U.S. Major Hurricane Drought Ends at Record 4,323 Days

Susan Jones | August 26, 2017 | 6:49am EDT
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Traffic light knocked down by Hurricane Harvey. (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) - Hurricane Harvey roared ashore near Corpus Christi as Category 4 storm late Friday night, breaking a record 4,323-day (142-month, 12-year) major hurricane drought.

Harvey made landfall around 30 miles north of Corpus Christi with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines a major storm as Category 3 or higher (winds above 111 miles an hour).

The last major hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States was Wilma, which struck Florida as a Category 3 on Oct. 24, 2005, 4,323 days ago. The last Category 4 storm to make landfall in the United States was Charley (Florida) in August 2004. And the last Category 4 hurricane to devastate Texas was Carla in 1961, according to data compiled by NOAA.

Since 2005, only nine relatively minor hurricanes (Categories 1 or 2 – and yes, they can be damaging) have made direct landfall in the United States.

That does not include the devastating superstorm Sandy, which approached New Jersey as a Category 1 hurricane, but transitioned into a “post-tropical cyclone” just before making landfall near Atlantic City, N.J. in October 2012, according to the National Weather Service.

Prior to the recent 142-month hurricane drought, the longest period on record without a major hurricane making landfall in the continental United States was the 96 months between September 1860 and August 1869.

There had been major hurricanes, Category 3 or higher, in every decade since 1851, except for the present decade. Until now.

And going back to President Calvin Coolidge in 1923-1929, every U.S. president except Barack Obama has had one or more major hurricanes strike the continental U.S. during his term in office.

(As noted above, Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the crowded New York-N.J.-New England area during Obama’s term, but it was not a hurricane when it hit land.)

Harvey is now moving further inland, and a storm surge warning remains in effect for much of the Texas coast.

“Due to the slow motion of Harvey and a prolonged period of onshore flow, water levels will remain elevated for several days,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. advisory on Saturday.

“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding is expected across the middle and upper Texas coast from heavy rainfall of 15 to 30 inches, with isolated amounts as high as 40 inches, through Wednesday.”

President Trump tweeted last night: “At the request of the Governor of Texas, I have signed the Disaster Proclamation, which unleashes the full force of government help!”

“We will remain fully engaged w/ open lines of communication as #HurricaneHarvey makes landfall. America is w/ you! @GovAbbott @FEMA” the president added in a second tweet.

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