The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is shaping up to be one of the worst seasons in over a decade. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast up to 17 named storms for the season, and Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) predicted three major storms rating Category 3 or higher.
On August 25, Hurricane Harvey became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since 2005. As a Category 4 storm, with sustained wind speeds up to 130 miles per hour, Harvey battered the Texas Gulf Coast, causing significant structural damage in the Rockport and Fulton area and several other coastal towns. As the storm moved inland, the winds subsided to tropical storm levels, but record-breaking rainfall (more than 50 inches in 48 hours in some cases) caused historic flooding in Houston and other South Texas cities. (For perspective, the storms that caused historic flooding in the Midwest earlier this year delivered 10-15 inches of rain in a week.)
Harvey could end up being the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. At least 60 deaths have been attributed to the storm and related complications. Some 200,000 homes were damaged, leaving more than 1 million people displaced. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has estimated the damage at $150 – $180 billion.
>> Fast Fact: In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused 150 deaths in the U.S. and $71 billion in damages.
Now a second major storm, Hurricane Irma, is barreling through the Caribbean with the potential to make landfall in Florida, including Miami and the Keys. Already a Category 5—and the strongest storm ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico—if Irma does strike the U.S. as a Category 3 or higher, it will be the first time two major storms have struck the U.S. in the same hurricane season. Continue reading