As we tick away the final few days of November, the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season will draw to a close. While storms can form and be named at any point of the year, the “official” period of hurricane season is June 1 – November 30, so I figured it’d be prudent to recall what we’ve gone through this season.
Tropical Storm Arlene jumped the gun and developed all the way back in Mid-April, starting the clock on the season quite early. Luckily it didn’t do much of anything and just swirled away in the North Atlantic. A parade of tropical storms ensued from Mid-June to the start of August, getting us all the way to Emily before we finally got a hurricane in the form of Franklin in early August. It briefly attained hurricane status in the Bay of Campeche after moving across the Yucatan. Damage was mostly minimal, though flooding in areas was the primary impact. Gert didn’t do much either out over the Atlantic and seemed like everything was going alright.
…Then came Harvey. Harvey’s spectacular intensification from a tropical storm early on August 24th to a Category 4 hurricane in the evening of the 25th. While there was massive damage along the TX coastline where Harvey made landfall, the thing everybody will remember will be the historical amounts of rain it dumped over East Texas and Western LA. Due to it’s interaction with a blocking high pressure and constant onshore moisture feeding into the system, the Houston area was inundated by unfathomable amounts of rain. By the time Harvey was finally able to shift inland, Some areas in east TX recorded 45-60 inches of rain, with the official high amount being 60.58″, a new US record for rainfall from a tropical cyclone. Massive flooding throughout the city, and surrounding areas, dominated the news for weeks.
Right behind that was Irma, which devastated portions of the Caribbean before taking sights on the Bahamas, Cuba and eventually Florida. Barbuda and St. Martin were completely destroyed as the eye made direct landfall on those locales, which had max sustained winds of 185mph, tying the record of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane as the strongest landfalling cyclone on record in the Atlantic.
On it’s heels was Maria, which also experienced explosive intensification, ballooning from a 80mph storm to 160mph in a 24hr period, right when it struck Dominica head-on. After devastating that island, it further intensified to 175mph and recorded a pressure of 908mb, pushing it into the top 10 of most intense hurricanes in Atlantic Basin history. Maria directly hit Puerto Rico, destroying nearly the entire island’s infrastructure.
Overall, the 2017 hurricane season was by far the costliest on record, with current estimates around $367 BILLION as still going upwards as claims and further damage evaluations come in from Harvey, Irma, and Maria. At least 320 died directly from the storms, though that number is likely hundreds higher as incomplete data from Puerto Rico reguarding Maria is causing discrepancies.
Thank goodness this season is drawing to a close, because this year won’t be one anybody forgets, not for a very very long time.