Hurricane season 2012 officially opens Friday, but it already boasts one record in the books and another event that hasn’t occurred in more than a century.
Tropical Storm Beryl struck Jacksonville this week as the strongest pre-season storm recorded in the United States, with 70 mph winds topping 1972’s 60 mph subtropical Storm Alpha, which hit almost the same spot.
Beryl, since downgraded to a depression and on a path back to oblivion in the Atlantic Ocean, also became the second storm this year to form before June 1, the day designated as the “official” start of hurricane season. It followed short-lived Tropical Storm Alberto, which spun up in mid-May.
Single named storms before June 1 are fairly common, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center. But he said two tropical storms have popped up only twice in official records going back to 1851 — in 1887 and 1908. Storms weren’t given names until 1953.
Lucky, fast starts don’t necessarily indicate furious seasons ahead. Aside from Beryl, the center wasn’t monitoring any other potential problems.
“What happens early in the season has no bearing on the rest of the season, which is good,” Feltgen said.