Early Wednesday morning, Tropical Storm Kate officially became Hurricane Kate as it jetted its way northeastward across the Atlantic Ocean. It is the latest forming hurricane in the Atlantic since Hurricane Epsilon formed on Dec. 2 during the blockbuster 2005 season.

The 2015 and 2005 seasons could scarcely be more different: 2005 had a record 28 systems become tropical storms, of which 15 became hurricanes, another record. There were so many storms that the normal list of storm names ran out and the backup system of Greek letters had to be used.

The 2005 season was also the one that saw tremendous storms like Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the last of which holds the record for lowest central pressure ever measured in the Atlantic basin.


The 2015 season has been far quieter, stymied as it was by El Niño, which tends to ratchet up high-level winds in the deep tropics that shear the tops of storms. While a few more storms have formed this season than initially expected, most stayed weak, and the ones that did strengthen didn’t stay that way for long.

Kate is one of the few storms that found a small area of favorable conditions to flourish. Aside from rains in the Bahamas and now high swells for Bermuda, the system hasn’t been a threat to land and will gradually dissipate as it continues across the ocean.

The U.S. hasn’t had a major hurricane hit since that 2005 season, though, of course, storms — most notably Sandy — have had major impacts.