The Devastating 2017 Hurricane Season In Review

Members of the South Carolina's Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (SC-HART) perform rescue operations in Port Arthur, Texas, August 31, 2017. The SC-HART team consists of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the South Carolina Army National Guard with four Soldiers who are partnered with three rescue swimmers from the State Task Force and provide hoist rescue capabilities. Multiple states and agencies nationwide were called to assist citizens impacted by the epic amount of rainfall in Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez)

Now that hurricane season is over, we can look back and reflect on how the season impacted the United States and it left its mark and left some communities marred for some time to come.

Let’s start with Hurricane Harvey which made landfall near Rockport, Texas as a category 4 hurricane at 130 mph  then weakened to a tropical storm before it slowly moved onshore of mainland Texas on August 25th. The storm was nearly stationary of Texas for four days and dropped torrential rainfall (40-60 inches) over the eastern part of the state. The storm caused nearly $200 billion dollars in damage, breaking hurricane Katrina’s record. The storm caused major flooding in Houston, Texas where water damage inundated thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. Hurricane Harvey was the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in over 10 year, as hurricane Wilma was the last back in 2005.

The season trudged along with the next storm to set its eyes on the United States was the powerful Hurricane Irma. Irma struck the U.S. Virgin Islands as a category 5 hurricane with 185 mph winds on September 6th causing widespread destruction. Not only were the U.S. Virgin Islands affected but many islands across the Caribbean, including catastrophic damage across Barbuda. The storm caused 134 deaths across the Caribbean. The storm then moved toward the United States and struck again on September 10th at Cudjoe Key, Florida as a category 4. The storm then moved up the west coast of Florida, causing heavy rains, flooding across Florida (even in downtown Miami) and even draining Sarasota Bay. The hurricane was downgraded to a category 1 prior to reaching Tampa. Across the United states, 90 people died. The storm cost a total of nearly $70 billion dollars.

Nearly two weeks later, Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean and produced more catastrophic damage, including to the islands of Puerto Rico and Dominica. On September 18th, Maria struck Dominica as a category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. The storm devastated the island with flooding and ripping the island of much of its greenery. The storm then made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20th as a category 4 hurricane. The storm destroyed many homes in Puerto Rico, stripped the island of power, cell service and devastating flooding. The storm caused over $103 billion dollars in damage. The death toll in Puerto Rico is uncertain with some government totals estimating around 90 but other totals from the island reporting 500 to 900 people. Multiple agencies have sent relief supplies and personnel to the island.

As you can see, the 2017 hurricane season was a devastating season and now we can take a break with the season over but will always be looking toward the next season to see how forecasting can improve and how we can keep you ahead of any tropical system.

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