By the numbers: 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season was third busiest on record

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Tuesday marks the final day of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The forecast at the beginning of the season was that it would be more active than normal – and it ended up being our third most active season on record.

“It started off strong and ended up with a whimper,” said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

We didn’t see any storms in October or November, so it may seem like the hurricane season has been over for a while – but the early part of the season was very active, with 21 named storms in all. Seven of those named storms ended up becoming hurricanes.

Only two other hurricane seasons have been more active, including 2020 with 30 named storms and 2008 with 28 named storms.

“This puts us pretty far behind last year, when we filled up the entire list of names and went on to a second list,” said Gardner.

The forecast for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season ended up being very accurate.

  • The forecast had predicted between 15 to 21 named storms in 2021. We had 21.
  • The forecast also called for 7 to 10 hurricanes. We had 7.
  • The forecast predicted between 3 to 5 major hurricanes. We had 4.

2021 was the third busiest hurricane season on record.

A closer look at the paths of some of North Carolina’s most impactful storms

“We had Elsa that became a category 1 storm. The remnants of that moved across North Carolina,” said Gardner. “Claudette actually moved across North Carolina as a tropical storm.”

Both of those storms impacted the Triangle. Elsa brought flooding and downed trees.

Elsa's rains leave heavy flooding at Crabtree Creek

Fred brought heavy rain and flooding to the mountains, destroying homes and causing multiple deaths.

Fred also spun up tornadoes across our western counties.

Flooding in Canton at Kasey Riddle's farm

“We did not have a direct landfall on the coast of North Carolina, so we were certainly fortunate about that,” said Gardner.

We used every single name on the hurricane list in 2021 – but then the named storms stopped coming, and we never had to use the second list.