In Brief

A Punishing Winter in the North Atlantic Too

Atlantic storms
Difference from average wind speed across the Northern Hemisphere for January-February 2014. Blues indicate areas with wind speeds that were higher than the 1981-2010 average; browns indicate winds were lower than average. (Image credit: Dan Pisut, NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab)

The winter storms that lashed England with record floods in February were among an unusually high number of hurricane-force storms in the North Atlantic this winter, according to NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center.

Between October 2013 and March 2014, 43 hurricane-force storms blasted the North Atlantic, the Ocean Predication Center said today in a statement. The storm totals for 2012-2013 were slightly lower, with 41 hurricane-force events between October and April. However, only 22 of those storms rapidly intensified, a process called bombogenesis. In 2013-2014, 30 storms blew up into hurricane-force strength, with dangerous winds, rain and snow. Another difference: More of this year's storms tracked further to the south than in 2012-2013, aiming for Britain instead of Greenland. The most intense system hit on Dec. 24, 2013, northwest of the British Isles.

Read more: Is Climate Change to Blame for UK's Floods?

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Becky Oskin
Contributing Writer
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.