Just as with the previous three hurricane seasons, the 2001 Hurricane Season was another late bloomer with seven named storms in the last two months of the season. That total included the likes of Hurricane Olga, which formed during the last week of the season, and even went into the first week of December as it extended hurricane season into overtime.
It wrapped up a season which saw another late flurry of activity. Overall, Olga was the fifteenth named storm of the year, and ninth hurricane. There have been hurricanes to develop late in the season. Among them was Hurricane Lili in 1984, Hurricane Kate in 1985, and Hurricane Klaus in 1990.
Hurricane Olga was an ordinary hurricane by meteorological standards. It only had winds of about 90 mph with gusts near 100 mph. The minimum central pressure in the storm was only 973 mb, or 28.76 inches of Hg. However, climatologically speaking, it was quite a storm. It formed out well into the Mid-Atlantic, where sea surface temperatures were much cooler than normal.
But, in the past couple of years, the North Atlantic Oscillation, or NAO has made sea surface temperature conditions more favorable for development even later into the hurricane season. Noel and Olga were proof of that. It started out as an extratropical low in the vicinity of Bermuda on November 21st, 2001. This extratropical low gradually acquired more tropical characteristics over the next three days, and became a subtropical storm on November 24th.
Within twelve hours of becoming a subtropical storm, the system had acquired enough tropical characteristics to become the fifteenth named storm of the year, and it was called Olga. Centered some 750 miles to the East-Southeast of Bermuda, Olga originally moved very slowly to the Northeast, but it then looped back around to the West and Southwest.
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Moving to the West-Southwest, Olga was gradually entering more favorable conditions. As a result, the storm began to intensify, and at one point on the 25th, an eye feature began to develop. By the 26th of November, 2001, Olga had winds of 90 mph and a central pressure of 973 mb. Olga had reached its Zenith.
Meanwhile, it was also interacting with a deep level circulation from high pressure to the Northwest of the storm, and it headed more towards a Southwesterly direction. Simultaneously, it had encountered hostile upper level winds that exposed the center of circulation, and separated the deep convection from it.
As a result, the storm dwindled down to depression status on November 30th. Nevertheless, the storm wasn't dead yet. That was because convection began to redevelop again near the center of circulation. Satellite imagery indicated that the storm was regenerating, and on December 2nd, 2001, it regained tropical storm status.
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After reaching maximum sustained winds of 50 mph on December 2nd, 2001, Olga began to weaken again, and this time, it was for good. High pressure again built to the Northwest of the storm, and steered it to the southwest toward the Bahamas. By late evening on December 3rd, 2001, Olga's winds had dropped to minimum tropical storm strength.
Six hours later, during the early morning hours of the 4th, Olga was downgraded to a tropical depression. What was left of Olga maintained itself for the next 24 hours, but on December 5th, 2001, it had lost its tropical characteristics and only brought gusty winds to the Bahamas, Florida Straits, and Cuba.
With the demise of Olga, the 2001 Hurricane Season was officially over. After a slow start, there were a total of 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. Considering that this season wasn't supposed to be this active, or even as active as the previous three years, it ended up being quite a season to remember.
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