Something unusual happened in the tropics on Thursday: three hurricanes were swirling at the same time in Igor, Julia and Karl.
This occurred a day after an extremely rare tropical two-step: On Wednesday, Igor and Julia both blossomed into Category 4 systems on Wednesday, first time that has happened in 84 years.
The last time three hurricanes were simultaneous in existence was in 1998, when there actually were four hurricanes alive at once: Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl were all active on Sept. 26 of that year.
Short of that foursome, Georges, Jeanne and Karl were simultaneously swirling on Sept. 25, 26 and 27 of 1998.
Coincidentally, the same basic set of storm names was used in 1998 as in 2010, although some of the 1998 names have since been retired.
Also, somewhat coincidentally, many experts expected 2010 to be similar to 1998 in terms of the overall number of storms — because the atmospheric conditions are similar.
(In 1998, there were 14 named storms, including 10 hurricanes.)
Dennis Feltgen, hurricane center spokesman, said since hurricane records were started in 1851, there have been eight years, where three hurricanes simultaneously churned in the Atlantic basin: 1893, 1926, 1950, 1961, 1967, 1980, 1995, and 1998.
“We can now add 2010 to the list,” he said.