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2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Busy but Texas Avoids the Bullseye

January 20, 2022 Texas, Flooding

The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season ended last month as the third busiest on record but Texas for the most part avoided the wrath of tropical storms.

“"It was an active season," Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon told Houston Public Media. "We've had 21 named storms. Usually, it's in the lower teens on average and seven of those made it to hurricane status, with four major hurricanes. For the most part it stayed away from the United States, except unfortunately for Hurricane Ida which slammed into Louisiana."

The 21 named storms last year came on the tumultuous heels of 2020, the busiest Atlantic Hurricane Season ever with 30 named storms. 2021’s 21 storms trailed only the 2005 season when there were 28 named storms.

Mostly Calm Along the Texas Coastline in 2021

The Texas coastline, which can be in the bullseye for deadly storms such as 2017’s Hurricane Harvey which brought catastrophic loss of life and property, was only the target of one storm in 2021.

Hurricane Nicholas lumbered along the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula in mid-September but weakened quickly to a tropical storm and ended up as a tropical depression.

“Even though Nicholas produced a lot of wind and power outages, it was a tropical storm as it moved through the Houston area. So in some ways Houston dodged a bullet again in that we didn't get a stronger hurricane and get a more direct hit," Dan Reilly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Houston, told Houston Public Media.

Hurricane Nicholas Brings Rain but is No Harvey

Nicholas made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, drenching areas with more than a foot of rain and knocking out power to approximately 500,000 homes and businesses.

While Galveston received almost 14 inches of rain from Nicholas, and Houston reported 6+ inches, it was only a fraction of the deluge from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 that set U.S. rainfall records with some spots recording 60+ inches over four days.

Houston Public Radio reported that after Harvey, “voters approved the issuance of $2.5 billion in bonds to fund flood-control projects, including the widening of bayous. The 181 projects designed to mitigate damage from future storms are at different stages of completion.”

Named Storm Landfalls in Texas are Hit and Miss

Atlantic Hurricane Season landfalls in Texas are surely hit and miss with no storms making landfall in 2018 just one year after the devastation of Harvey.

In 2019 one storm, Tropical Storm Imelda, made landfall near Freeport with winds of just 40 mph but peak rainfall in Jefferson County resulted in rainfall of 40+ inches and was attributed to five deaths.

In 2020, three named storms hit the Texas coastline:

  • Hurricane Hanna made landfall near Port Mansfield with winds of 90 mph in July. The storm caused more than $1 billion in damage, including heavy crop damage in the Rio Grande Valley.
  • A month later, the edge of Hurricane Laura hit Orange County, knocking out power to 90 percent of the county.
  • In September, slow-moving Tropical Storm Beta brought rain and flooding to the Houston area.

Texas Neighbor Louisiana Suffers 2021 Hurricane Damage

Texas neighbor to the east, Louisiana, suffered the brunt of tropical storm damage in 2021 including Hurricane Ida, which hit Port Fourchon in August with sustained winds of 150 mph.

In all, Ida caused more than $75 billion in damage and resulted in at least 115 deaths with the majority of destruction in Louisiana, New Jersey and New York.

For the record, here were the 21 named storms for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, with peak winds, estimated damage if any, and U.S. landfall if any:

  • Tropical Storm Ana: May 45 mph
  • Tropical Storm Bill: June 65 mph
  • Tropical Storm Claudette: June (Houma, Louisiana) 45 mph ($375 million)
  • Tropical Storm Danny: June (Pritchards Island, South Carolina) 45 mph
  • Hurricane Elsa: July (Taylor County, Florida) 85 mph ($1.2 billion)
  • Tropical Storm Fred: August (Cape San Blas, Florida) 65 mph ($1.3 billion)
  • Hurricane Grace: August 125 mph ($513 million)
  • Hurricane Henri: August (Westerly, Rhode Island) 75 mph ($650 million)
  • Hurricane Ida: August (Port Fourchon, Louisiana) 150 mph ($75 billion)
  • Tropical Storm Kate: August 45 mph
  • Tropical Storm Julian: August 60 mph
  • Hurricane Larry: August 125 mph ($80 million)
  • Tropical Storm Mindy: September (St. Vincent Island, Florida) 45 mph
  • Hurricane Nicholas: September (Sargent Beach, Texas) 75 mph ($1.1 billion)
  • Tropical Storm Odette: September 45 mph
  • Tropical Storm Peter: September 50 mph
  • Tropical Storm Rose: September 50 mph
  • Hurricane Sam: September 155 mph
  • Tropical Storm Teresa: September 45 mph
  • Tropical Storm Victor: September 65 mph
  • Tropical Storm Wanda: October 50 mph ($200 million)

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