Superstorm Sandy as it strikes the East Coast in late October 2012.
Superstorm Sandy as it strikes the East Coast in late October 2012. (Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

A relatively quiet hurricane season is nearing its end, likely to be the first since 1994 without a major hurricane forming in the Atlantic, according to researchers at Colorado State University.

The season saw 13 named storms, which is about average. But storms rarely strengthened much, with just two reaching hurricane status despite predictions of a more active season.


"It was one of the largest busts for our research team in the 30 years we've been issuing this report," researcher Phil Klotzbach said in a statement. Colorado State's Tropical Meteorology Project issues one of several key hurricane season forecasts, and had called for as many as nine hurricanes, four of them reaching major hurricane status.

A tropical cyclone needs 74 mph maximum sustained winds to qualify as a hurricane, and at least 111 mph winds to reach major hurricane status.

The two hurricanes that formed, Humberto and Ingrid, make up the lowest seasonal tally since 1977, when just one hurricane formed. Only two hurricanes were also tallied in 1978, 1979 and 1982.

Though the season doesn't technically end until the end of the month, the Colorado State researchers released a report Tuesday reviewing the season and their forecast. They attributed the quiet season to conditions including low moisture and greater than expected air sinking in the middle levels of the atmosphere.

It was not a result of El Nino, which can stymy hurricane formation, the report noted.

The U.S. has endured eight years without a major hurricane making landfall, with Hurricane Wilma in 2005 the last. That is the longest stretch on record since monitoring began in 1878, the report said.