2021 marks the seventh consecutive year in which ten or more weather and climate disasters caused over $1 billion in damages in the United States, with an unprecedented 18 separate billion-dollar disasters in the first nine months of the year. Tropical cyclones made up 64% of the total costs from weather and climate disasters this year, as of October. After another particularly busy start to the season, the Atlantic Coast experienced an unusual lack of hurricanes in November.
A tropical cyclone is a system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical waters, often with very intense wind force. There are three types of tropical cyclones:
- Tropical Depression: maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less
- Tropical Storm: maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph; once a tropical cyclone reaches wind speeds of 39 mph it becomes a named storm
- Hurricane: maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or greater; major hurricanes have speeds of 111 mph or higher
2021 was the third most active year of tropical storms and hurricanes on record, and the sixth consecutive season with above average tropical cyclone activity.