It's all over but the counting.

The 2011 hurricane season blew away on a winter storm that came through the United States in early November and pushed Tropical Storm Sean far out to sea. Since then the tropics have been quiet.

What seemed to be a mild season produced a couple of surprises, though. It's been one of the busier years on record and it produced one of the costliest storms -- Hurricane Irene. Only two factors kept Irene from wreaking more havoc here than it did.

"Pure dumb luck and timing," said Mark Malsick, S.C. Climate Office severe weather liaison. When the August storm was about two days southeast of the Lowcountry, a weather front coming off the East Coast developed a trough, a weakness that drew Irene north instead of northeast. If it hadn't developed just at the right time, "Irene's northwest track over the Bahamas would have taken it just east of Beaufort," Malsick said.

The season doesn't officially end until Nov. 30. But winter storm patterns out of the Arctic already dominate weather in the United States. National Hurricane Center specialists say that the season has changed, the waters are cooling and the winds that tear apart tropical storms have gotten too strong.

There's a small chance of a storm developing in the Atlantic off the Leeward Islands, but forecasters don't give it much chance of becoming anything substantial.

"We're not seeing anything right now that's going to spin up into anything," said Dennis Feltgen, of the hurricane center. "Clearly, nature is transitioning" into winter, he said.

Final numbers and an analysis are expected from the hurricane center by Nov. 28, but preliminary NHC numbers are 18 named storms, six turning into hurricanes and three of those into severely damaging hurricanes. The numbers, coincidentally, are dead-on to the center's pre-season forecast, which was for an above-average season.

Huge waves from Hurricane Irene tore up Folly Beach County Park, its pier and dunes, among other Charleston-area beach damage, as the storm passed 160 miles offshore on Aug. 26. The surf overran dunes, destroyed beach and cut apart the remote Cape Island in the Cape Romain National Seashore; the island annually holds one-third of all the sea turtle nests from North Carolina to Georgia.

The hurricane then slammed into the Outer Banks of North Carolina in August, whirled its way up the seaboard and made a second landfall in New Jersey. Rain from the storm exacerbated by rain from Tropical Storm Lee poured some of the most disastrous flooding in New England's history. Early estimates of the damage range from $4 billion to $6 billion, and place the storm among a dozen of the costliest on record.

As a comparison, Hurricane Hugo in 1989 did $7 billion in insured damage -- mostly in South Carolina -- using numbers adjusted to 2011 dollars, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 did $47 billion.

Oddly enough against that backdrop, the season was the sixth in a row that the United States avoided the landfall of a severely damaging hurricane -- one with winds of 111 mph or more.

--18 named storms, 6 becoming hurricanes, 3 becoming major hurricanes.

--12th year of the past 16 that had more hurricanes than the statistical "normal" season.

--Sixth busiest season on record.

--Sixth year in a row that no major hurricane made landfall on the United States.

--$4 billion to $6 billion early damage estimates from Hurricane Irene place it from the 12th to the 9th costliest hurricane on record.

* Preliminary numbers. The National Hurricane Center expects to release final numbers a few days before season ends Nov. 30.