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Atlantic hurricane season more costly than record-breaking one in 2020

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Hurricane season officially begins on June 1, but usually doesn't peak in the Atlantic until mid-August to the end of September. This is when conditions are perfect for hurricanes and depressions.

(CNN) — The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, just like the 2020 season, was one for the record books, but for different reasons.

The biggest similarity was the high number of named storms. The 2021 season became only the third in history to use all of the names on the rotating seasonal list. The previous years were 2020 and 2005.

In 2020 more hurricanes made landfall in the U.S., but this year the storms cost over $20 billion more.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30, ended with 21 named storms, seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher): Grace, Ida, Larry, and Sam.

Hurricane map

During an average year there would be 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. This year met or exceeded each of those categories, and it was forecast to be that way.

The strongest two hurricanes were Ida and Sam, which both reached Category 4 strength. Grace and Larry peaked as Category 3 storms.

The first half of the season was off to the races as the U.S. was affected by eight named storms: Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Henri, Ida, Mindy, and Nicholas.

Billions in damage

While only one major hurricane made landfall across the U.S. (Ida), a total of four named storms left behind over $1 billion in damage each: Tropical Storm Elsa, Tropical Storm Fred, Hurricane Ida, and Hurricane Nicholas.

Ida alone exceeded the cost in damage of all seven billion-dollar tropical cyclones that made landfall across the U.S. in 2020, including hurricanes like Laura, Delta and Zeta.

"To date, Hurricane Ida is the costliest disaster this year, exceeding $60 billion," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Ida already ranks among the top five most costly hurricanes on record for the U.S. since 1980."

Hurricane season

There were four major hurricanes in the 2021 Atlantic season: Grace, Ida, Larry, and Sam.

Ida was the strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year to make landfall with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph when it struck near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on Aug. 29. It was one of only three hurricanes to ever make landfall in the state of Louisiana with winds of 150 mph, the most recent being Laura from 2020.

In the following days the remnants of Ida moved to the Northeast and combined with a frontal system, delivering extreme rainfall rates and flash flooding, inundating streets, homes and neighborhoods.

Flash flood emergencies were declared in New Jersey and New York. At least 55 people died across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

This season's quirks

The strongest storm of the season didn't hit land, but video was captured from inside it.

Hurricane Sam, like Ida, also reached Category 4 strength with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. Sam remained a Category 4 hurricane for 4.5 days and generated the fifth-highest accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) recorded in the satellite era.

"ACE is integrated metric accounting for storm intensity and duration," Klotzbach tweeted. "Sam was a long-lived, intense hurricane."

Fortunately, unlike Ida, Sam remained out over the open waters of the Atlantic and never made landfall.

Sam's long life, of over 11 days as a hurricane, allowed a research drone to be sailed into it, and, for the first time, to transmit video from inside a major hurricane at ocean level.

A couple of other storms made some meteorological records.

Tropical Storm Ana formed in a unique area of the Atlantic Ocean. In the last 100 years, no named storm had ever developed east of Bermuda in the month of May. Tropical Storm Ana broke that record. Typically, storms during this month form over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, western Caribbean Sea and near the southeastern U.S. coast.

Another unique storm was Subtropical Storm Teresa. Reports of subtropical storms are not uncommon, especially in the 21st century, thanks to advanced technology. What is uncommon is for a storm to remain subtropical for its entire life, never transitioning to "tropical" status.

Teresa was also extremely short-lived, at only 24 hours.

Ida will likely be the only name on the retired list this year, despite there being three other major hurricanes, simply because of the amount of damage and fatalities caused. The letter "I" already has more retired names than any other letter in the alphabet.