Historic Hurricane Season ends today
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, one of the busiest and most destructive on record, comes to a merciful close today.
With 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes, 2017 ranks as the 9th most active season since records began in 1851.
While 2005 still holds the record with 28 storms, this season, especially September, will long be remembered for the intensity and destruction of the hurricanes that formed. Thanks to category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria, category 4 Hurricane Jose, category 3 Hurricane Lee, and category 2 hurricane Katia, September 2017 was the most powerful month of any Atlantic hurricane season on record.
The power of a month is determined by calculating Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). It's a measurement of how much energy a tropical system produces based on intensity and duration. Long-lived, intense hurricanes have a high ACE value, while short-lived, weak tropical storms have a low value.
Monster storms like Harvey, Irma and Maria killed hundreds and caused more than $206 billion in damage, officially making this season the most expensive ever.
Thankfully, South Carolina made it through the season relatively unscathed. The fringe of massive hurricane Irma produced serious beach erosion, but there was little to no damage from up to 4" of heavy rain and wind gusts between 40- 50 mph.
Here's a look at some incredible stats from the 2017 hurricane season:
- Ten consecutive named storms became hurricanes in 2017 tying the record also set in 1878, 1886 and 1893.
- Six major (category 3 or stronger) hurricanes formed. Only 1961 and 2005 had more with 7.
- Three category 4 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma and Maria) hit the U.S. That's the first time that's happened since records began in 1851.
- More than 95 percent of the U.S. Gulf Coast and 50% of the East Coast were affected by at least tropical-storm-force winds (>39 mph).
- Harvey was the first major hurricane since Wilma 12 years ago to hit the U.S. Major hurricane Irma made a U.S. landfall just 16 days later.
- 60.58 inches of rain fell near Nederland, Texas during Harvey. That broke the record for the greatest rainfall amount ever recorded in the Lower 48 from a single storm.
- Irma's wind peaked at 185 mph making it the 2nd strongest Atlantic basin hurricane on record behind Allen in 1980, which had 190 mph winds.
- Irma maintained its 185 mph winds for 37 consecutive hours...a world record.
- Maria knocked out power to more than 90 percent of Puerto Rico.
- Hurricane Ophelia produced a 119 mph wind gust in Ireland.
Though the season officially ends today, out of season tropical storms and hurricanes, while rare, do occasionally occur. In fact, the 2017 season got off to an early start with Arlene forming in April. Since records began in 1851, only 47 storms have formed in the December to May time frame.
Hopefully, next year will not be as active nor as destructive, but as I always say, it's not a question of if, but when the next big hurricane strikes. It could be next year or it could be many years from now. It's important to be prepared every year.