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The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season was very active, with at least sixteen named storms forming. Of these, ten became hurricanes and five intensifying to major hurricane intensity. Per precedent, the duration of the season is from June 1 to November 30. Adopted by convention, these dates typically delimit the period each year when tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However, the formation of Tropical Storm Arthur resulted in the season commencing three days prior to the official start. The season was exceptionally destructive, ranking as the fourth-costliest on record - behind 2005, 2012, and 2004, respectively. 2008 was the fourth-busiest year since 1944, and is the only season on record to feature a major hurricane in every month from July to November. Hurricane Bertha was the longest-lived July tropical cyclone on record for the basin, and the first storm to achieve Category 4 strength in the month since Hurricane Emily. The season was absolutely devastating for Haiti, which suffered catastrophic damage from four consecutive tropical cyclone landfalls (Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike), in addition to being brushed by Hurricane Paloma. Hurricane Ike was the most significant storm of the season, and the most intense, despite that Hurricane Gustav was a whole category stronger, peaking as a Category 5 hurricane.

One very unusual feat with this season was the sheer quantity of storms affecting land, with all but two cyclones striking land some point this year. The unprecedented number of storms with impact led to one of the deadliest and most destructive seasons in the history of the Atlantic, especially Hurricane Ike, whose overall damages made it the third-costliest hurricane in the basin.

Overview

wikipedia:Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale The season began in late May with Tropical Storm Arthur, a weak tropical storm thad had minimal impact across the Yucatán. in mid-June, Tropical Depression Two formed east of Florida and moved inland, causing generally minimal damage. Tropical cyclogenesis commenced once more in early July, generating a long-lived Category 4 storm known as Hurricane Bertha. In late July, Tropical Storm Cristobal moved up the East Coast, with the center staying just offshore. Around the same time, Hurricane Dolly formed in the western Caribbean and caused extensive damage in the U.S. state of Texas. In early August, Tropical Storm Edouard remained offshore the United States Gulf Coast, ultimately making landfall in Louisiana. Later that month, Hurricane Fay formed in the eastern Caribbean and made continuous landfalls in Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, causing extensive damage. Fay later made a record four landfalls in the state of Florida, one of which at hurricane intensity. Hurricane Gustav followed closely on the heels of its predecessor, making landfall on Cuba at peak strength. As Gustav entered the Gulf of Mexico, it advanced towards Louisiana and made landfall there as a Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane Hanna followed, striking Turks & Caicos at its initial peak as a Category 1 hurricane. However, shear from the nearby Hurricane Gustav weakened Hanna as it approached Haiti, where it caused catastrophic damage. Hanna ultimately re-curved towards the United States and attained a peak near major hurricane intensity, striking South Carolina at that intensity. Throughout early September, Hurricane Ike ravaged the Greater Antilles, particularly Cuba, at or near peak strength, prior to making landfall in Texas as a major hurricane, where it caused extensive damage. Hurricane Josephine followed, but ultimately curved to the north, sparing the Leeward Islands a direct hit. In late September, Hurricane Kyle struck Nova Scotia as a minimal hurricane, where damage was less severe than anticipated. Subsequently came Tropical Storm Laura, the first storm of the season not to affect land. In early October, the minuscule Tropical Storm Marco struck Veracruz, Mexico, causing minimal damage.

Later that month was the weak Tropical Storm Nana, which did not affect land. In mid-October, Hurricane Omar formed in the Caribbean and took an unusual northeasterly track through the Leeward Islands, though damage was generally inconsequential. Later that month, Tropical Depression Seventeen ravaged Honduras, causing devastating floods there. In early November, Hurricane Paloma struck the Cayman Islands near peak intensity, later becoming the third hurricane that year to make landfall in Cuba. Paloma subsequently went on to strike southeast Florida as a strong tropical storm, dissipating north of the Bahamas. With this, the 2008 season officially came to an end.

Activity

While every Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 30, Tropical Storm Arthur's formation on May 30 marked 2008 as the first occurrence of two consecutive seasons featuring a named storm in May. Overall, the season was active - eighteen tropical cyclones formed, with sixteen becoming named storms. Of these, ten became hurricanes, while another five became major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale). In June, an ephemeral tropical depression struck northeast Florida, while July flourished with activity - with up to three named storms, two of which attained hurricane status - the highest total for the month, behind 2005. In addition, Hurricane Bertha was the first major hurricane in the month since Hurricane Emily of the aforesaid year. Due to moderate La Niña conditions in the Pacific, favorable conditions permitted above-average activity. This season, sixteen tropical cyclones made landfall, resulting in damages exceeding $50 billion (2008 USD), and more than 1,000 fatalities. Overall, the season ranks as the fourth-costliest in history, becoming the costliest and deadliest in the basin since 2005.

August was also very active, featuring five named storms - Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike - all of which but one went on to attain at least hurricane intensity. September featured only three named storms - Josephine, Kyle, and Laura - though Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike, especially the latter of the three, persisted well into the month. October was active, featuring three named storms plus Tropical Depression Seventeen. November featured only one storm - the exceptionally powerful Hurricane Paloma - the first storm of its intensity in the month since Michelle. Following the dissipation of Paloma on November 10, the active season officially concluded.

Impact

The 2008 season was one the most destructive seasons on record, mainly due to the effects of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The United States were hit especially hard, with the worst of the effects felt along the Gulf Coast. The unexpectedly destructive Hurricane Dolly thrashed south Texas at peak strength, registering as one of the top four most destructive hurricanes on record for the state. Only two months later, Hurricane Ike slammed the Galveston area as an exceptionally large Category 3 hurricane, causing damage exceeding $34.2 billion, which, at the time, was the second-costliest hurricane ever to strike the United States. However, Ike would be surpassed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Hurricane Gustav also struck southern Louisiana with wind speeds near 120 miles per hour, generating widespread fear that the cyclone would be a repeat of Hurricane Katrina a mere three years prior. Though this obviously did not materialize, Gustav caused at least $4.2 billion in damage to the southern U.S. Additional tropical cyclones to strike the United States this year were Tropical Storms Cristobal and Edouard, in addition to Hurricane Hanna, which struck South Carolina at peak strength, and Hurricane Fay, which made four landfalls in Florida. Hurricane Paloma also brushed the state with minimal impact.

The island nation of Cuba suffered from its most destructive season on record, with three hurricanes making landfall in the country. In early August, Tropical Storm Fay made landfall in central Cuba, followed by Hurricane Gustav nearly a week later. Gustav made landfall in Pinar del Río at peak intensity, the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the nation since the 1924. Only ten days later, Hurricane Ike thrashed Holguín at Category 4 strength, then made a second landfall in Pinar del Río as a minimal hurricane, severely compounding damage from Gustav. With damages up to $9.4 billion in the country, Ike is the worst storm on record for the nation. In November, Hurricane Paloma made landfall in Las Tunas as a rapidly weakening Category 3 storm, making 2008 the only season on record to feature three major hurricanes landfall in the nation. Neighboring Haiti also suffered catastrophic damage, mainly due to Hurricanes Hanna and Ike. Tropical Storm Fay made landfall in the southwestern part of the country, succeeded by Hurricane Gustav days later. Hurricane Ike swept across the nation as it moved over the Turks & Caicos, compounding damage. However, Hurricane Hanna, the deadliest storm in the basin since Stan, caused at 750 fatalities in the nation and damage likely exceeding $800 million. Hurricane Paloma also added to damage sustained by the nation when its outer bands produced at least seven inches of rain in the western end of the country.

Other areas that bore impact include the Leeward Islands, which suffered from the effects of Hurricane Omar in October. The Cayman Islands were devastated by Hurricane Paloma at peak strength, in addition to Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, plus Tropical Storm Fay. Puerto Rico was brushed four times, enduring heavy rainfall from Hurricane Kyle's precursor disturbance. Central America was devastated by flooding caused by Tropical Depression Seventeen, while Mexico escaped with generally insignificant damage. Jamaica endured a landfall from then Tropical Storm Gustav, and was also brushed by Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Paloma, and Tropical Storm Fay. The Turks & Caicos islands underwent heavy damage from Category 4 Hurricane Ike, which incapacitated the region just days after Hurricane Hanna drenched the area at its initial peak as a minimal hurricane. Nova Scotia was also struck by Hurricane Kyle, the first hurricane to landfall in the country since Hurricane Juan.

Records

The season featured numerous unusual and/or record-breaking instances that merit mention. 2008, in combination with 2007, is the only occasion in which the Atlantic featured consecutive years of named storms in the month of May. Additionally, as previously stated, 2008 ranks as the fourth-costliest Atlantic hurricane season in the basin's history. Until 2016, this year was the most recent to contain a Category 5 hurricane, the highest classification for hurricanes according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. It also is only one of two hurricane seasons in which the highest-ranked storm (Gustav) was not the overall strongest (Ike), with 2002 also a precedent for this unusually rare circumstance. However, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) does acknowledge that Ike may have attained Category 5 status upon achieving peak strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Another event this season featured was a landfalling Category 5 storm (Gustav), the first to do since Felix in 2007. At least two major hurricanes struck the United States this year, the first such storms to do so since Wilma. Additionally, the season featured the highest number of U.S. landfalling hurricanes since the aforementioned year. When Hurricane Dolly formed on July 19, 2008 was the second-fastest start to a hurricane season, next to 2005. The season was also the most destructive for Cuba and Haiti on record, and is the only known occurrence of three major hurricanes making landfall in the former of the two nations. Another notable occurrence this season was that the season had the most major hurricanes (five) since 2005, all of which attained at least Category 4 intensity. Due to this, 2008 tied with 1999 and 2005 for having the most Category 4 storms on record. The final record held by 2008 is that is it the only season on record to have a major hurricane in every month, from July to November.

Various storms also hold individual records, as well. Hurricane Bertha was the earliest Category 4 storm on record, the longest-lived July hurricane, and the first storm to attain such an intensity in the month since Hurricane Emily of 2005. When Hurricane Dolly formed later that month, 2008 took the record for the second-most active season prior to August. Hurricane Dolly was also the fourth-most destructive hurricane on record for Texas, behind Ike later this year, Rita of 2005, and Alicia of 1983. Hurricane Fay is the only storm on record to make four landfalls in the state of Florida. Hurricane Gustav, in addition to becoming the worst storm to strike Cuba in 45 years (only to be surpassed by Ike), was the first storm to strike Louisiana at major hurricane intensity since Katrina. Hurricane Ike was the sixth-largest hurricane (by gale diameter) in the basin, and was the costliest storm on record for both Cuba and Texas. Overall damages caused by the storm made it the second-costliest for the both the United States and basin overall, until it was surpassed by Hurricane Sandy approximately four years later. Tropical Storm Marco, however, was the smallest tropical cyclone ever recorded, with a gale diameter approximately 11 miles across.

Accumulated Cyclone Energy

The season's activity was reflected with a high ACE value of TBA. ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. It is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 39 mph (63 km/h), which is tropical storm strength. Subtropical cyclones, such as the initial portion of Laura, are excluded from the total ACE value.

Storms

Tropical Storm Arthur

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:617px-Arthur 31 May 2008.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration May 30 – June 1
Peak intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min)  1005 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Depression Two

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Tammy oct 5 2005 1620Z.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration June 9 – June 11
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1008 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Bertha

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Bertha Jul 7 2008 1630Z.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration July 3 – July 20
Peak intensity 130 mph (215 km/h) (1-min)  950 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Cristobal

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:600px-Cristobal 21 Jul 2008.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration July 19 – July 23
Peak intensity 60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min)  1001 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Dolly

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Hurricane Dolly July 23, 2008.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration July 19 – July 25
Peak intensity 100 mph (155 km/h) (1-min)  962 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Edouard

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:568px-Edouard 05 August 2008.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration August 3 – August 6
Peak intensity 70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)  997 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Fay

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Fay 19 aug 2008 1615Z.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration August 14 – August 27
Peak intensity 80 mph (130 km/h) (1-min)  984 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Gustav

Category 5 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Hurricane Gustav 30 Aug 2008 1605z.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration August 24 – September 4
Peak intensity 160 mph (260 km/h) (1-min)  936 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Hanna

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:464px-Hanna 2008-09-01 over Bahamas.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration August 26 – September 7
Peak intensity 110 mph (175 km/h) (1-min)  971 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Ike

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:466px-Hurricane Ike off the Lesser Antilles.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration August 31 – September 14
Peak intensity 155 mph (250 km/h) (1-min)  928 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Josephine

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Hurricane Danny (2015) Rendering.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration September 2 – September 16
Peak intensity 110 mph (175 km/h) (1-min)  969 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Kyle

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:800px-Kyle 28 sept 2008 1800Z (new).jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration September 25 – September 29
Peak intensity 85 mph (140 km/h) (1-min)  980 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Laura

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:800px-20080929-laura-full.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration September 29 – October 1
Peak intensity 60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min)  991 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Marco

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:466px-Marco 6 oct 2008.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration October 6 – October 7
Peak intensity 65 mph (100 km/h) (1-min)  995 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Nana

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:800px-Nana 12 oct 2008 1535Z.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration October 11 – October 16
Peak intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min)  1004 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Omar

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Omar 2008-10-15 at 1745 UTC.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration October 13 – October 19
Peak intensity 130 mph (215 km/h) (1-min)  952 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Depression Seventeen

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Sixteen 14 oct 2008.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration October 14 – October 15
Peak intensity 30 mph (45 km/h) (1-min)  1009 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Paloma

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
{{#ifd:Paloma 2008-11-08 at 1835 UTC.jpgCounterclockwise vortex}}
Duration November 4 – November 10
Peak intensity 150 mph (240 km/h) (1-min)  941 mbar (hPa)

Storm Names

The following names were used for named storms that formed in the North Atlantic in 2008. The list was the same as the one used in 2002 except for Ike and Laura, which replaced Isidore and Lili, respectively. The names Ike, Omar, and Paloma were used for Atlantic storms the first time this year; the name Laura was previously used in 1971. Names that were not used are marked in gray.

  • Arthur
  • Bertha
  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gustav
  • Hanna
  • Ike
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paloma
  • Rene (unused)
  • Sally (unused)
  • Teddy (unused)
  • Vicky (unused)
  • Wilfred (unused)

Retirement

On April 22, 2009, at the 31st Session of the World Meteorological Organization's Regional Association IV Hurricane Committee, the WMO retired the names Dolly, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike from its rotating name lists. The names were replaced with Denise, Gonzalo, Harriet, and Isaias for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, respectively. At the meeting, the names Fay and Paloma were also requested for retirement, but the committee ruled that the impact caused by their corresponding storms was not sufficient to warrant retirement, and thus were kept.

Season Effects

2008 North Atlantic hurricane statistics
Storm
name
Dates active Storm category

at peak intensity

Max 1-min
wind
mph (km/h)
Min.
press.
(mbar)
Areas affected Damage
(millions USD)
Deaths


Arthur May 30– June 1 Tropical storm 45 1005 Yucatán Peninsula (Belize, Quintana Roo) $70.4 million 4 (3)
Two June 9- June 11 Tropical depression 35 1008 United States (Florida, Georgia) Minimal None
Bertha July 3- July 20 Category 4 hurricane 130 950 Cape Verde, Bermuda, East Coast of the United States <$1 million 4
Cristobal July 19– July 23 Tropical storm 60 1001 Bahamas, United States (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina) Minimal None
Dolly July 19- July 25 Category 2 hurricane 100 962 Cuba, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, Texas >$2.35 billion 25 (12)
Edouard August 3- August 6 Tropical storm 70 997 United States (Louisiana, Texas) $5.2 million 2 (3)
Fay August 14– August 27 Category 1 hurricane 80 984 Hispaniola (Haiti), Jamaica, Cuba, United States (Florida) $600 million 47 (8)
Gustav August 24- September 4 Category 5 hurricane 160 936 Lesser Antilles, Hispaniola (Haiti), Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cuba, United States (Louisiana) $9.8 billion 155 (6)
Hanna August 26- September 7 Category 2 hurricane 110 971 Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Haiti, Cuba, United States (South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York), Atlantic Canada $1.3 billion >788 (8)
Ike August 31– September 14 Category 4 hurricane 155 928 Hispaniola, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Islands, United States (Florida, Texas), Mexico ~$49.68 billion 112 (21)
Josephine September 2- September 16 Category 2 hurricane 110 969 Cape Verde, Leeward Islands, Bermuda Minimal None
Kyle September 25- September 29 Category 1 hurricane 85 980 Greater Antilles (Puerto Rico), Bermuda, New England, Nova Scotia $58.2 million 1 (5)
Laura September 29– October 1 Tropical storm 60 991 None None None
Marco October 6- October 7 Tropical storm 65 995 Mexico (Veracruz) Minimal 1
Nana October 11- October 16 Tropical storm 45 1004 None None None
Omar October 13– October 19 Category 4 hurricane 130 952 Leeward Antilles, Venezuela, Leeward Islands, Greater Antilles (Puerto Rico) $80.1 million 2 (4)
Seventeen October 14- October 15 Tropical depression 30 1009 Central America (Honduras), Belize $160 million >89
Paloma November 4- November 10 Category 4 hurricane 150 941 Central America, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Florida, Bahamas $506.23 million 5
Season Aggregates
18 cyclones May 30 – November 10    160 928 Caribbean Islands, Central America, Mexico, United States, Europe, Atlantic Canada $53.34 billion (2008 USD) ~1,400