The powerful 2019 Atlantic hurricane season comes to its official end this weekend, a period that saw 18 named storms, six of which were hurricanes.
This year was unusually active: An average season has 12 named storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“This year marks the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season,” NOAA said in a statement Tuesday. “The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001.
"Also this year, five tropical cyclones formed in the Gulf of Mexico, which ties a record with 2003 and 1957 for the most storms to form in that region. Of those, three – Barry, Imelda and Nestor – made landfall in the U.S.”
The most destructive storm of the year was Dorian, a monster hurricane that battered the Bahamas in early September.
"Dorian was definitely the most notable storm of 2019," said hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. "It was the strongest hurricane on record (185 mph winds) outside of the tropics in the Atlantic basin. And it was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Bahamas on record."
Dorian devastated the northwestern Bahamas, killing more than 60 people and leaving several billion dollars' worth of damage.
Dorian went on to cause about $1 billion in damage in the southeast U.S., primarily in North Carolina, Klotzbach said.
Tropical Storm Imelda turned out to be the most damaging storm of the year for the continental U.S., causing about $2 billion in damage, Klotzbach said. Though it was only a weak tropical storm when it made landfall in September, it tracked very slowly across southeastern Texas, causing tremendous flooding.
Another notable storm was Hurricane Lorenzo, which reached Category 5 intensity farther east than any other Atlantic hurricane on record, Klotzbach said. The storm did not directly hit the U.S.
Preseason forecasts from NOAA predicted that nine to 15 named storms would form, of which four to eight would be hurricanes.
“This season’s activity ramped up in mid-August during the normal peak of the season, as we predicted,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The above-normal activity is consistent with the ongoing high-activity era.
"Conditions that favored more, stronger and longer-lasting storms this year included a stronger West African monsoon, warmer Atlantic waters, and weak vertical wind shear across the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.”
Though the official end of the season is Saturday, December tropical storms and hurricanes do occasionally occur. Since records began in 1851, six hurricanes have been recorded in the Atlantic in December, NOAA said.
The 2020 hurricane season officially begins June 1.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hurricane Dorian was hurricane season's most destructive storm