As of today, no major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 or above, have struck the continental U.S. in a record-breaking 119 months, according to hurricane data kept by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Research Division (HRC) dating back to 1851.
Last year, President Obama warned that hurricanes will become “more common and more devastating” because of climate change.
But Obama is now the longest serving president (since the 1851 start of NOAA’s data) not to see a major hurricane strike the U.S. during his time in office. He is also the first president since Benjamin Harris was in office 122 years ago to have no major hurricane strike during his term.
The last major hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. mainland was Hurricane Wilma, which came ashore on October 24, 2005.
That year was one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history, according to NOAA.
Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma all wreaked havoc on the U.S. during an intense two-month period between August 29 and October 24 of 2005.
However, during the nearly 10 years since Wilma struck the U.S., no major hurricanes have made landfall and none are expected by the end of the current hurricane season.
According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, major hurricanes classified as Category 3 or above have sustained wind speeds of more than 111 miles per hour and are capable of causing “devastating” or “catastrophic” damage.
The previous record was an eight-year span during the 1860’s in which no major hurricanes struck the U.S.
The current hurricane drought is “a rare event” that is “unprecedented in the historical record,” according to Timothy Hall, a hurricane researcher at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Hall also said there is only a 39 percent chance that the current hurricane drought will end next year.
Researchers at the Centre for Marine Sciences at the University of the West Indies traced hurricane activity over the past 1,000 years by studying sediment deposits in Jamaica’s Grape Tree Pond, which gets very little precipitation outside of hurricane season.
“Our results corroborate evidence for the increasing trend of hurricane activity during the Industrial Era; however, we show that contemporary activity has not exceeded the range of natural climate variability exhibited during the last millennium,” according to a paper published August 5 in Nature.