Today is the final day of the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season. This year saw a very active and destructive hurricane as there were 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 5 of which were major hurricanes (category 3 strength or higher).
The active 2008 tropical season also lead to some very good swells for the East and Gulf Coasts. Hurricane Bertha was the first signicant tropical swell to hit the east coast, and was also the longest lasting storm on record to form in July (July 3 to July 20). Bertha sent moderate sized 3-5' E/SE ground swells to the entire east coast. Tropical Storm Cristobal and Hurricane Dolly also developed in July. Cristobal developed off the Southeast US coast and sent the south facing beaches along the East Coast a nice, quick shot of southerly swells, while Dolly slammed into the northern Texas Gulf Coast and scattered waves towards Texas.
As we moved into August, the tropics only heated up further, but unfortunately a lot of destruction came along as well. Tropical Storm Fay did not reach hurricane status, but lead to over 40 deaths as the storm slowly crept along the Florida coastlines and made 4 separate landfalls dropping a tremendous amount of rain on the sunshine state. Next, followed Hurricane Gustav, which lit up the west coast of florida with excellent conditions. However, as usual, whenever a major hurricane moves in the Gulf waters, there is a very high likelihood of destruction. This unfortunately was the case with Gustav, which at one point looked like it could be a repeat of Katrina, setting its site on New Orleans. Gustav missed New Orleans, but ended up hitting the Southeast Louisiana coast over the labor day wekeend and still was responsible for substantial damage.September, as in most tropical season, was the most active month of the 2008 hurricane season. There was Hurricane Hanna, Hurricane Ike, Tropical Storm Josephine, Hurricane Kyle, and Subtropical Storm Laura. Hanna and Ike (Cat 4) teamed up to produce head high to overhead combination swells for most of the East coast, before Ike entered the gulf waters. Ike then spread large swells throughout the Gulf Coast, but led to the most destructive storm of the year as it plowed into the Galveston area as a Category 2 Hurricane. Ike resulted in 82 US deaths and $31.5 billion dollars in damage (the third costliest Atlantic storm on record).
Arguably, the best east coast swell of the season came with Hurricane Kyle. It wasn't Kyle's strenth that produces such good surf, but the track, as it skirted just off the East Coast coastline and darted south to north towards the Maine/Canada border. Kyle was responsible for head to double overhead for many areas along the northern half of the East Coast.
While September was an outstanding month for surf, October was very uneventful for East/Gulf tropical swells. There were 3 named October storms, none of which produced anything of substance. Hurricane Paloma was the last storm of the season (Nov 5 to Nov 10) and reached Category 4 status as it pounded into Cuba and dissipated as it moved over the mountainous cuban terrain.
All in all, the 2008 Hurricane season, was very active. We saw excellent swells for both the US East and gulf coasts, and unfortunately some very destructive storms as well. You can view the 2008 Hurricane archives, in the Swellinfo Hurricane Center.
Only 6 more months to go before the Atlantic 2009 season.