Moments after I posted this little good-bye to the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, I learned tropical storm Epsilon had formed. Yes, the 26th named storm. It doesn't really have the nice ring that alpha, beta, and delta had, but it is impressive. It shouldn't do much, but that's what we all said about Delta. Here's a little pic of baby Epsilon; it is the blob of maximum water vapor in the middle of the Atlantic, on about the latitude of South Carolina.
As this record hurricane season finally ends, I have to admit that even I am stunned by the level of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. Tropical storm "Delta" has claimed several lives in a tragin end to a series of tragic - and epic - storms [LINK]. The season included two of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record (Katrina and Rita), and devastated not only the Gulf Coast, but large parts of central America (e.g., Stan).
Will next summer be even worse? Probably not. The last two years have probably been exceptionally strong. However, it is likely that next year will be a severe hurricane season. It doesn't matter whether this activity is due to the active phase of the "Atlantic multi-decadal mode" or because an anthropogenic trend in large-scale conditions, either way the short term (next 5-10 yesrs) is clear. Big, strong, and frequent tropical cyclones. And with more and more people living along coasts in ever more expensive homes, the total damage in dollars will continue to get worse with every season.
Rumor has it that there are some very interesting (and controversial) findings about to be published in the scientific literature about the global warming signal in tropical cyclone activity. I'm going to try to follow up on these rumors, and if I find out what is coming, I'll try to give a little synopsis here.