2017 was a year that brought forth an onslaught of deadly hurricanes–Harvey, Irma, and Maria, naming it a highly active hurricane season along the Atlantic. Due to the destruction that these massive storms caused, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) announced that these three storms now claim 3 out of 5 spots on the list of costliest hurricanes.
Back to back, Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused death and devastation throughout Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S Virgin Island, leaving hundreds of thousands of families facing destitution. Currently, the estimated damage costs from Hurricane Harvey stand at a staggering $125 billion ranking it second of the list of costliest hurricanes, however, Hurricane Katrina still remains the number one costliest hurricane in US history with recorded damage costs of $160 billion. Additionally, Hurricane Maria secures the number 3 spot on the list with $90 billion, while Hurricane Irma snags the fifth spot with $50 billion in damage costs. Right now, 2012’s Superstorm Sandy is claiming the number four spot on the list with a total of $70 billion. Keep in mind, that the costs for Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina were adjusted accordingly due to inflation.
In light of these results, NOAA explains that these amounts are based on researched estimations, “the estimated total costs of these events–that is, the costs in terms of dollars that would not have been incurred had the event not taken place. Insured and uninsured losses are included in damage estimates” (Source). With both uninsured and insured losses, the 2017 hurricane season averaged more than a quarter-trillion dollars according to the National Hurricane Center. Unfortunately, this total gives 2017 the title of the costliest hurricane season in all of US history. Keep in mind, this is a highly significant claim since it now tops the catastrophic 2005 hurricane season with Rita, Wilma, and Katrina.
Characteristics of The 2017 Hurricane Season
In terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy, together, hurricanes Irma, Lee, Maria, Jose, and Katia produced one of the largest amounts of energy on record. Additionally, meteorologists saw an average of 60.58 inches of rain during Harvey’s reign that accumulated near Nederland, Texas. This measurement wound up breaking the record for the greatest rainfall amount from one, single storm recorded in the US–within 48 bordering states. However, with Hurricane Irma averaging at a Category 5 storm, meteorologists state that this storm was one of the strongest to made landfall in the Atlantic. Of course, even though Irma’s trajectory spread far and wide, this claim excludes the areas in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico that were affected. Researchers state that Irma causes maximum winds of 185 mph with wind gusts of 199 mph.
With the mass destruction that was caused by Harvey, Maria, and Irma, the World Meteorological Organization proposes that these names be retired, a notion that will be decided at the next organizational meeting in April. A wise choice it would be to retire these names since these hurricanes caused more than just environmental damage, it caused destitution, death, and great loss within the affected communities.