2005 Atlantic hurricane season

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2005 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
Season summary map
First storm formed: June 8, 2005
Last storm dissipated: January 6, 2006 (record)
Strongest storm: Wilma - 882 mbar (26.05  inHg) - record, 185 mph (295 km/h)
Total storms: 28 (record)
Major storms ( Cat. 3+): 7
Total damage: ≥$120 billion (2005 USD - record)
Total fatalities: ≥2,280
Atlantic hurricane seasons
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, shattering previous records on repeated occasions. The impact of the season was widespread and ruinous with at least 2,280 deaths and record damages of over $100 billion USD. Of the storms that made landfall, five of the seven major hurricanes—Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma—were responsible for most of the destruction. The Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Yucatán and the U.S. states of Florida and Louisiana were each struck twice by major hurricanes; Cuba, the Bahamas, Haiti, Mississippi, Texas, and Tamaulipas were each struck once and in each case brushed by at least one more. The most catastrophic effects of the season were felt on the United States' Gulf Coast, where a 30-foot (10 meter) storm surge from Hurricane Katrina caused devastating flooding that inundated New Orleans, Louisiana and destroyed most structures on the Mississippi coastline, and in Guatemala, where Hurricane Stan combined with an extratropical system to cause deadly mudslides.

The season officially began on June 1, 2005, and lasted until November 30, although it effectively persisted into January 2006 due to continued storm activity. A record twenty-eight tropical and subtropical storms formed, of which a record fifteen became hurricanes. Of these, seven strengthened into major hurricanes, a record-tying five became Category 4 hurricanes and a record four reached Category 5 strength, the highest categorization for hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Among these Category 5 storms were Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, the former the costliest and the latter the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record.

Seasonal forecasts

Predictions of tropical activity in the 2005 season
Source Date Tropical
Hurricanes Major
CSU Average (1950–2000) 9.6 5.9 2.3
NOAA Average 11 6 2
CSU 3 December 2004 11 6 3
CSU 1 April 2005 13 7 3
NOAA 16 May 2005 12–15 7–9 3–5
CSU 31 May 2005 15 8 4
NOAA 2 August 2005 18–21 9–11 5–7
CSU 5 August 2005 20 10 6
Actual activity 28 15 7

Forecasts of hurricane activity are issued before each hurricane season by noted hurricane expert Dr. William M. Gray and his associates at Colorado State University (CSU), and separately by forecasters with the U.S. Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Prior to and during the 2005 season, Dr. Gray issued four forecasts, each time increasing the predicted level of activity. The NOAA issued two forecasts, one shortly before the season and one two months into the season, drastically increasing the predicted level of activity in the second release. Nonetheless, all forecasts fell far short of the actual activity of the season.

Preseason forecasts

On December 3, 2004, Dr. Gray's team issued its first extended-range forecast for the 2005 season, predicting a slightly above-average season. Additionally, the team predicted a greatly increased chance of a major hurricane striking the East Coast of the United States and the Florida peninsula. Though the forecast predicted above-average activity, the level predicted was significantly less than the 2004 season. On April 1, 2005, after confirming that El Niño conditions would not develop, Dr. Gray and his team revised the December forecast upward, expecting thirteen tropical storms instead of eleven and seven hurricanes instead of six. In addition, the chance of a storm impacting the United States was raised slightly.

On May 16, 2005, 15 days before the season began, NOAA issued its outlook for the 2005 season, forecasting a 70% chance of above-normal activity. The accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) value for the season was predicted to be 120–190% of the median. Shortly thereafter, on May 31, the day before the season officially began, Dr. Gray's team revised its April forecast upwards to 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

Midseason outlook

On August 2, after an extraordinarily active early season, the NOAA released an updated outlook on the remainder of the season, significantly raising the expected level of activity to numbers about double those of a normal season. The ACE value was now forecast to be 180 to 270% of the median. The NOAA also noted a higher than normal confidence in the forecast of above-normal activity. On August 5, 2005, Dr. Gray and his associates followed suit and issued their updated forecast; it was consistent with NOAA's update. Although neither the NOAA nor Dr. Gray had ever forecast such high levels of activity, even the midseason outlooks fell far short of the actual level of activity.


June and July

Hurricane Dennis making landfall in Florida
Hurricane Dennis making landfall in Florida

On June 9, nearly two months earlier than when the 2004 season started, Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the western Caribbean, crossing Cuba before making landfall on the Florida Panhandle on the 11th. Arlene caused only moderate damage, although one swimmer was caught in a riptide and drowned in Miami Beach, Florida.

Tropical Storm Bret formed in the Bay of Campeche on June 28 and made landfall in Veracruz the next morning. The storm damaged hundreds of homes and caused flooding which killed two people.

Hurricane Cindy formed in the Gulf of Mexico on July 4. Originally thought to be a tropical storm, Cindy made landfall in Louisiana on the 5th as a minimal hurricane, dropping up to 5 inches (130 mm) of rain, spawning several tornadoes, and killing three people. Cindy was upgraded to a hurricane in the post-storm analysis.

Satellite photo of Hurricane Emily near peak intensity
Satellite photo of Hurricane Emily near peak intensity

On July 5, Hurricane Dennis formed in the eastern Caribbean; it crossed Grenada before intensifying into a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest ever recorded in July with a pressure of 930 mbar ( hPa). Dennis struck Cuba at full force, then made a final landfall on the Florida Panhandle. The hurricane killed 89 people (mostly in Haiti) and caused $4–$6 billion in damages in Cuba and the United States.

Soon thereafter, Hurricane Emily formed in the Atlantic on July 11. It entered the Caribbean Sea and quickly intensified to a Category 4 storm, breaking Dennis's record for July intensity when its pressure reached 929 mbar (hPa). Emily then briefly reached Category 5 intensity—the earliest such storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. Emily crossed the Yucatán Peninsula at Category 4 strength before hitting Tamaulipas at Category 3 strength. Emily killed at least 14 people over the course of its path. An estimated $400 million in damages have been reported.

Tropical Storm Franklin formed off the Bahamas on July 18. The storm moved northeast and became extratropical off the coast of Atlantic Canada without ever having threatened land.

Tropical Storm Gert followed soon after on July 24. Gert struck Veracruz near where Emily had hit a few days before; roughly 1,000 people were evacuated for fear of flooding, but no damages or deaths were reported.


Like July, August also got off to a fast start: Tropical Storm Harvey formed southwest of Bermuda on August 3. Harvey dropped some rain on Bermuda as it moved to the northeast; it became extratropical on August 8 in the open Atlantic Ocean.

The tropical depression that would become Hurricane Irene formed west of the Cape Verde Islands on August 4. The system moved west and north and did not reach hurricane strength until August 14, at which point it became the second Cape Verde-type hurricane of the season. Irene turned northeast and briefly reached Category 2 status before weakening and becoming extratropical on August 18. It never posed a threat to land.

Eye of Hurricane Katrina as seen from a Hurricane Hunter aircraft
Eye of Hurricane Katrina as seen from a Hurricane Hunter aircraft

Tropical Depression Ten formed east of the Lesser Antilles on August 13. The system dissipated the next day. Its remnants soon merged with another system and eventually contributed to the formation of Hurricane Katrina.

Tropical Storm Jose followed, forming in the Bay of Campeche on August 22. It strengthened rapidly but quickly reached the coast and made landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz on August 23, preventing further strengthening. Jose forced 25,000 people to evacuate their homes in Veracruz and killed six people in the state of Oaxaca; two more were reported missing. In all, damage in Mexico amounted to $45 million (2005 USD).

Hurricane Katrina formed in mid-August over the Bahamas. It became a tropical storm on August 24 and reached hurricane intensity before making landfall in south Florida as a minimal hurricane. A few hours later, the storm entered the Gulf of Mexico and intensified rapidly into a Category 5 hurricane while crossing the Loop Current on August 28. Katrina made landfall on August 29 near the mouth of the Mississippi River as an extremely large Category 3 hurricane. Storm surge caused catastrophic damage along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Levees separating Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, Louisiana were breached by the surge, ultimately flooding about 80% of the city. Wind damage was reported well inland, impeding relief efforts. Katrina is estimated to be responsible for at least $81.2 billion in damages, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. It was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, killing at least 1,836 people.

Tropical Storm Lee formed out in the Atlantic on August 31 but dissipated several days later without having threatened land.


Hurricane Ophelia off the coast of North Carolina
Hurricane Ophelia off the coast of North Carolina

Hurricane Maria led off the month of September, forming as a tropical storm well east of the Leeward Islands on September 2. Maria reached its peak as a Category 3 hurricane on September 5, turning northeast and weakening before becoming extratropical on the 10th. Unusually, this extratropical storm strengthened as it moved toward Iceland; its remnants struck Norway where one person was killed in a landslide.

Hurricane Nate formed southwest of Bermuda on September 5 and moved northeast as it strengthened into a strong Category 1 hurricane. Nate became extratropical on the 10th; the storm never approached land, although it did interfere with Canadian naval vessels en route to the Gulf Coast to help in Katrina relief efforts.

Hurricane Ophelia formed as a tropical depression in the Bahamas on September 6 and almost immediately made landfall on Grand Bahama. It became a tropical storm off the coast of Florida before strengthening into a large Category 1 storm and raking a long stretch of the southern North Carolina coast with heavy winds and storm surge on the 12th and 13th. The hurricane's eye never made landfall and moved back out to sea before becoming extratropical on the 17th and striking Atlantic Canada. Damages were around $70 million.

Hurricane Philippe formed east of the Leeward Islands on September 17. It moved northwards, reaching Category 1 intensity before weakening and finally dissipating on the 23rd. No landmasses were affected.

Hurricane Rita formed as a tropical storm over the Turks and Caicos Islands on September 18. The storm reached Category 2 intensity as it moved south of the Florida Keys on September 20. Rapid intensification ensued as Rita moved into the Gulf of Mexico, and Rita became a Category 5 hurricane on the 21st, becoming the third (now fourth) most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. Rita made landfall near the Texas- Louisiana border on September 24. Major flooding was reported in Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas, while Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes in Louisiana were devastated. Offshore oil platforms throughout Rita's path also suffered significant damage. Six people are confirmed dead from Rita's direct effects, and total damage from the storm is estimated at about $10 billion. One hundred and thirteen indirect deaths have been reported, mostly from the mass exodus from Houston, Texas and surrounding counties.

Tropical Depression Nineteen formed west of the Cape Verde Islands on September 30 but dissipated on October 2 without having threatened land.


Hurricane Stan shortly before landfall in Veracruz
Hurricane Stan shortly before landfall in Veracruz

Hurricane Stan was the first October storm, reaching tropical storm status on October 2 just before crossing the Yucatán Peninsula. In the Bay of Campeche, Stan briefly reached hurricane strength before making landfall south of Veracruz, Veracruz, on October 4. Stan was a part of a large system of rainstorms, which dropped torrential rainfall that caused catastrophic flooding and mudslides over southern Mexico and Central America. Well over 1,000 total deaths were caused by the flooding, of which 80–100 are directly attributed to Stan.

An initially unnoticed Unnamed Subtropical Storm was discovered by the NHC during the postseason analysis. This short-lived subtropical storm formed on October 4 south of the Azores and was absorbed by an extratropical low the next day, after passing over those islands.

Tropical Storm Tammy led a brief existence before making landfall in northeastern Florida on October 5. Tammy dropped heavy rains over portions of the southeast United States before merging with a frontal system that would eventually cause the Northeast U.S. flooding of October 2005.

Subtropical Depression Twenty-two formed southeast of Bermuda on October 8. It dissipated the next day, although its remnants approached New England and contributed to the Northeast U.S. flooding of October 2005.

Hurricane Vince formed over unfavorably cold water in the east Atlantic near the Madeira Islands on October 8 as a subtropical storm. It was first recorded by the NHC on October 9 when it became tropical, and shortly thereafter, it briefly strengthened into a hurricane. The storm made an even more unusual landfall in Spain on October 11, making it the first tropical cyclone on record to impact Spain.

Hurricane Wilma formed on October 17 in the western Caribbean southwest of Jamaica and rapidly strengthened. On October 19 it became the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic basin, with 185 mph (295 km/h) winds and a central pressure of 882  mbar ( hPa). The hurricane moved slowly and struck Quintana Roo on October 22 as a Category 4 hurricane, causing very heavy damage to Cancún and Cozumel. After emerging into the Gulf of Mexico, Wilma passed north of Cuba before striking southern Florida on the 24th as a Category 3 storm, then moving into the Atlantic Ocean and becoming extratropical. Wilma is directly credited with 22 deaths; total damages are estimated at around $29 billion, mostly in the United States, Mexico, and Cuba.

Tropical Storm Alpha formed in the eastern Caribbean on October 22 and crossed Hispaniola, causing major flooding before merging with Wilma. A total of 42 people are reported dead from the storm in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Hurricane Beta formed in the southern Caribbean on October 26 and strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall in the Colombian islands of San Andrés & Providencia and in Nicaragua on the 30th. Damage and fatality reports have not yet been released to the public.

November, December, and January

Hurricane Epsilon viewed from the International Space Station
Hurricane Epsilon viewed from the International Space Station

Tropical activity declined only very slowly as the season wound down. Tropical Storm Gamma initially formed on November 15 in the central Caribbean, and degenerated into a tropical wave before reforming. Although the storm dissipated on November 20 without having made landfall, rainfall from Gamma caused 41 deaths in Honduras and Belize.

Tropical Storm Delta formed in the eastern Atlantic on November 23; it approached but never attained hurricane strength. Delta became extratropical on the 28th shortly before striking the Canary Islands at full force, causing seven deaths and toppling El Dedo de Dios, a famous land formation on Gran Canaria.

Hurricane Epsilon formed as a tropical storm on November 29 in a hostile environment in the middle of the Atlantic. It reached hurricane strength on December 2 and defied forecasting by persisting for over a week before dissipating.

Tropical Storm Zeta became the final storm of the season when it formed on December 30, six hours short of tying the record of Hurricane Alice of 1954 as the latest-forming named storm in a season. Zeta dissipated on January 6, 2006, having become the longest-lived January tropical cyclone in Atlantic basin history.

Deaths and damage

Damage in Navarre Beach, Florida from Hurricane Dennis
Damage in Navarre Beach, Florida from Hurricane Dennis

The storms of the season were extraordinarily damaging and were responsible for significant loss of life. Total damages are estimated to be over $100 billion (2005 USD), and at least 2,280 people have been confirmed dead.

The hardest-hit area was the United States Gulf Coast from eastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle. First to strike the area was Hurricane Dennis, which caused $2.23 billion in damages along the Florida Panhandle. Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic damage to the Gulf Coast, devastating a long stretch of coast along Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama with a 30-foot (9 m) storm surge. Wind damage was reported well inland, slowing down recovery efforts. Storm surge also breached levees in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, flooding about 80% of the city. Total damages have been estimated at $81.2 billion, and at least 1,836 people were killed by the storm; Katrina is the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, surpassing 1992's Hurricane Andrew, and the deadliest hurricane in the U.S. since 1928. Hurricane Rita struck near the same area, re-flooded New Orleans, (though to a far less degree than Katrina) and caused extensive damage along the coastlines of Louisiana and Texas; total damages are estimated at about $10 billion. Tropical Storm Arlene and Hurricane Cindy also struck the Gulf Coast but caused much lighter damage.

Flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina
Flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina

The Mexican state of Quintana Roo was also heavily hit, suffering billions of dollars in damages when Hurricanes Emily and Wilma both made landfall between Cozumel and Cancún. Wilma was particularly devastating, lashing the area with major hurricane-force winds for over a full day, and was possibly the most damaging hurricane in Mexican history.

Wilma caused widespread heavy damage in south Florida, causing $20.6 billion in damages total in the United States. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had struck the same area earlier, causing lesser (but still significant) damage, and Tropical Storm Arlene killed one person caught in a rip current. Hurricane Dennis also brushed the area on its track northward.

In October the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy and Subtropical Depression Twenty-two met over the Northeastern United States, causing intense flooding.

Southeastern North Carolina suffered some damage from the slow-moving Hurricane Ophelia; damages from that storm were originally estimated at $1.6 billion, but finalized at only $70 million. The remainder of the Atlantic coast escaped the major storms, although some regions were affected by the remnants of several storms (including Katrina, Ophelia, Tammy, Subtropical Depression 22, and Wilma).

Northeastern Mexico, including Veracruz and Tamaulipas, was struck repeatedly. Hurricane Emily struck Tamaulipas directly, causing severe damage. Tropical Storms Bret, Gert, and Jose also made landfall in the area but caused minimal damage, although they did cause 12 deaths.

Southern Mexico, along with portions of Central America, suffered heavy flooding and mudslides from Hurricane Stan and nearby nontropical rains. Over 2,000 people have been confirmed dead in total, with some towns completely wiped out, though most of these deaths were not related to the hurricane. Central America also suffered flooding from Tropical Storm Gamma and Hurricane Wilma, and Nicaragua was struck directly by Hurricane Beta. No damage figures are available for any of these storms.

Flooding in Carolina Beach, North Carolina after Hurricane Ophelia in September 2005
Flooding in Carolina Beach, North Carolina after Hurricane Ophelia in September 2005

The island of Hispaniola escaped the worst storms; however, at least 89 people were killed in Haiti from the effects of Hurricanes Dennis and Wilma and Tropical Storm Alpha.

Cuba was struck by Hurricane Dennis at peak strength, causing $1.4 billion in damages; it was the worst hurricane to hit Cuba in over 40 years. Some areas of Cuba also suffered heavy damage from Hurricanes Rita and Wilma.

Unusual impacts were felt in Europe and nearby islands from four storms. Hurricane Maria intensified and affected northern Europe as a vicious extratropical storm, while Hurricane Vince maintained tropical characteristics onto the Iberian Peninsula as a weak tropical depression. Tropical Storm Delta struck the Canary Islands just after becoming extratropical, causing extensive damages before reaching Morocco as a weak extratropical system. In addition, the Azores were affected by the unnamed subtropical storm at its peak strength. Eight people were killed by those storms, and significant damage was reported as a result of Maria and Delta, although no figures are available.

No major land effects were felt as a result of Franklin, Harvey, Irene, Tropical Depression 10, Lee, Nate, Philippe, Tropical Depression 19, Epsilon, or Zeta.

Economic impact

Hurricane Rita at landfall, along with the location of several refineries
Hurricane Rita at landfall, along with the location of several refineries

The level of activity of the season had far-reaching economic consequences. Because of the vulnerability of both oil extracting and refining capacity in the Gulf of Mexico, storms led to speculative spikes in the price of crude oil. The damage to refinery capacity in the United States caused gasoline to soar to record prices (even adjusted for inflation). Governments in Europe and the United States tapped strategic reserves of gasoline and petroleum, and shortages were reported in the days after Katrina in areas heavily dependent on the Gulf of Mexico for refined gasoline. Even weeks after the storm, prices remained elevated as the shortage in production remained over one million barrels per day.

Rita damaged wells in the western Gulf of Mexico which were primarily exploratory, leading to concerns that future production would be damped for some time to come. Additionally, as the storm churned in the Gulf, forecasters predicted that it would strike Houston, Texas, the location of many major oil refineries that survived Katrina, leading to additional spikes in oil prices before the predictions changed. In Georgia, Governor Sonny Perdue declared " snow days" on September 26 and September 27, 2005, at all Georgia public schools to conserve fuel for school buses in anticipation of Rita's impact. However, as the storm veered away from Houston shortly before landfall, damage to refining capacity was not as great as feared.

Agriculture in multiple countries was hard hit by extremely heavy rains from severe storms during the season. Early in the season, Hurricane Dennis caused significant damages to various citrus and vegetable crops in Cuba, though the damages were not crippling. In Central America, Hurricane Stan and associated nontropical storms dropped upwards of 20 inches (500 mm) of rain, causing, in addition to severe flash floods and mud slides, heavy damage to crops, especially to the banana and coffee crops, which were nearly ready to be harvested. This caused significant economic disruption in Guatemala and surrounding nations, as the rural economies are highly dependent on the coffee and banana crops. When Hurricane Beta struck Nicaragua later in the season, it also caused heavy damages to the banana crop, but the harvests had already ended, mitigating economic disruption.

Katrina also had significant political consequences, as President George W. Bush, Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin all came under heavy criticism for what were considered sluggish or inappropriate responses to Hurricane Katrina. On December 14, 2005, congressional hearings began to investigate whether these claims had any merit. In addition, Michael Brown, head of the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was forced to resign from his post after the organization came under fire for what was perceived as an insufficient response to Katrina.

Forecasting uncertainty

Hurricane Vince formed in cold waters in the northeast Atlantic.
Hurricane Vince formed in cold waters in the northeast Atlantic.

A number of storms that formed in 2005 exhibited unusual behaviour and challenged forecasters' ability to make correct predictions. Hurricane Vince formed farther northeast in the Atlantic than any other tropical cyclone on record, and then unexpectedly reached hurricane strength over waters considered too cold to support a hurricane. Hurricane Wilma became one of the fastest-intensifying hurricanes on record, and later strengthened unexpectedly in the face of strong wind shear. Tropical Storm Delta, Hurricane Epsilon and Tropical Storm Zeta all formed over the cold waters of the late-season eastern Atlantic, much like Hurricane Vince (though at lower latitudes). All three persisted in the face of heavy wind shear, and Epsilon managed to reach hurricane strength over waters well below the temperatures previously thought necessary for hurricane formation. Epsilon became the longest-lasting December hurricane while Zeta became the longest-lasting storm in January.

Records and notable events

The 2005 season broke numerous records for tropical cyclone activity, although records before 1944 are incomplete.

Number of storms

Storm formation during the 2005 season
Systems Average
Storms 10 21 28
Hurricanes 6 12 15
Category 3+ Hurricanes 2 8 7
Category 5 Hurricanes 0.3 2 ( tie) 4

During the season 28 storms formed (27 named and one unnamed), surpassing almost all records for storm formation in the Atlantic. More tropical storms, hurricanes, and Category 5 hurricanes formed during the season than in any previously recorded Atlantic season; the only major record for number of storms the season did not capture was most major hurricanes, still held by the 1950 season.

The season was the first season to use "V" and "W" names, and when the season ran out of official alphabetical names after the use of Wilma, forecasters resorted to using letters from the Greek alphabet for the first time (although Alpha and Delta had been used for subtropical storms in the 1970s).

Almost every storm in 2005 has set a record for early formation. Of the twenty-eight storms which formed, twenty-two of them qualified as the earliest-forming storm of that number; starting with Hurricane Dennis, almost every storm was such.

Intense storms

Hurricane Wilma near peak intensity of 882 mbar
Hurricane Wilma near peak intensity of 882 mbar

Three of the six most intense hurricanes on record formed in 2005, topped off by Hurricane Wilma's 882 mbar minimum pressure, shattering the 17-year-old record set by Hurricane Gilbert. Hurricanes Emily, Katrina and Rita also attained Category 5 intensity, and Hurricanes Rita and Katrina became the fourth and sixth most intense recorded Atlantic storms, respectively. Hurricane Emily was not originally recorded as a Category 5 storm, but it was upgraded in the post-storm analysis by the National Hurricane Centre. The 2005 season is the only season on record with four Category 5 storms on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale; the previous record was only two. In addition, Hurricane Dennis reached Category 4 status, tying the record set by the 1999 season with five Category 4 storms.

Early strength and activity

In July, Hurricane Dennis became the strongest storm to form prior to August and the earliest Category 4 storm to form in the Caribbean. When Hurricane Emily reached Category 5 intensity later in the month, the 2005 season became the only season to have two hurricanes reach Category 4 intensity before the end of July; Emily also broke Dennis's nine-day-old record for the strongest storm on record before August. Emily was also the first Category 5 hurricane ever recorded in July and the earliest by nearly three weeks (beating Hurricane Allen). The high level of activity and strength was reflected in the accumulated cyclone energy value at the end of July; at 63 it was the highest ever.

Additionally, seven storms formed before the end of July, breaking the record of five set in the 1887, 1933, 1936, 1959, 1966, and 1995 seasons. Five of those storms formed during July, also a new record.

Late activity

After forming on November 29, Hurricane Epsilon became the longest-lasting December hurricane on record when it maintained hurricane strength from December 2 to December 7. Epsilon is the third-strongest hurricane ever recorded in the month of December; only Hurricane Nicole of 1998 and an unnamed storm in the 1925 season were stronger.

When Tropical Storm Zeta formed on December 30, it came second only to Hurricane Alice (also December 30, 1954, but later in the day) as the latest ever that the last storm of the season formed. Zeta also became only the second storm, after Alice, to persist through the end of year and still be active at the start of the next. In addition, Zeta was the longest-lived tropical cyclone to form in December and cross over into the next year, and it was also the longest-lived January tropical cyclone.

Storm names

2005 storm names

The names to the right were used for tropical storms and hurricanes that formed in the North Atlantic in 2005. This was the same list used for the 1999 season, with the exceptions of Franklin and Lee, which replaced Floyd and Lenny. The names not retired from this list will be used again in the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. Storms were named Franklin, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, Wilma, Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, and Zeta for the first time in 2005 (the names Alpha and Delta had been previously used in 1972 for two subtropical storms, but this is the first time they have been used in this way). This season used fifteen previously unused names, the most ever in an Atlantic season. Additionally, a subtropical storm that formed in early October was not recognized as such at the time and so did not receive a name.

Vince and Wilma were the first named " V" and " W" storms ever in the Atlantic basin. The naming of Wilma exhausted the 2005 list, the first time in Atlantic naming history that all names in the list have been used. Beginning with Alpha, the 2005 season was the first time in Atlantic hurricane history that Greek letters were used due to the exhaustion of the primary list.


In the spring of 2006, the World Meteorological Organization retired five hurricane names: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma. Their replacements in the 2011 season will be Don, Katia, Rina, Sean, and Whitney, respectively. This surpassed the previous record for the number of hurricane names retired after a single season, four (held by the 1955, 1995, and 2004 seasons).

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