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Miami (AFP) Nov 30, 2012
The dreaded Atlantic hurricane season drew to a close on Friday, ending an active chapter that included the particularly devastating Hurricane Sandy, which wrought havoc in the northeastern US.
Only one named storm this year reached the strength to officially classify it as a "major hurricane," but it wasn't any of the ones most would think, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA said in a statement.
The major storm was Michael, which built to category three status but stayed far from land.
Sandy, in contrast, caused tens of billions of dollars of damage and killed at least 59 in the Caribbean and more than 110 in the US, mainly while churning at category one status and after it transitioned into a post-tropical storm.
Hurricane Isaac, in August, also pummeled the Caribbean, killing more than 20, and plowed into Louisiana, where officials had feared a repeat of the tragedy caused seven years ago by Hurricane Katrina.
"This year proved that it's wrong to think that only major hurricanes can ruin lives and impact local economies," said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA's National Weather Service.
"Each storm carries a unique set of threats that can be deadly and destructive," she added.
"We are hopeful that after the 2012 hurricane season, more families and businesses all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts become more 'weather ready' by understanding the risks associated with living near the coastline."
Overall, there were 19 named storms in 2012, well above the seasonal average of 12, NOAA said.
There were also 10 storms that turned into full-blown hurricanes, four more than in an average year, the statement noted.
Also interesting this year, two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, developed in May, before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
But several of the storms "were short in duration, weak in intensity, and went largely unnoticed by the general public because they stayed out over the Atlantic," NOAA said.
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