The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will officially close for business in just five days on November 30th. Let's take a look back at just how devastating the season was and some of the records that were set.
In every contest, there must be a loser. Unfortunately, we, Houston and Texas, were the losers.
The contest to which I'm referring? The record-smashing major hurricane drought in the United States. It had been nearly 12 years since a major hurricane had hit the country; the last one being Wilma in October 2005 when it struck southwest Florida. That's 142 months! The previous record? 96 months from 1860 to 1869.
The luck ran out and the contest ended on August 25, 2017 when category four Harvey struck just south of Matagorda Bay with 130 mph winds and bringing to a close the 4,323 day, record breaking stretch of non-major impacts.
Many people, including many meteorologists, argue Ike, the strong category two hurricane that hit Houston/Galveston head on in 2008, should be classified as a major hurricane. That's a different blog for a different day.
Harvey went on to become at least the second costliest, and possibly the costliest, hurricane on record in the U.S. with an estimated price tag of insured losses in the neighborhood of $150 billion to $200 billion.
That being said, Harvey joins a growing list of "the most" regarding superlatives both locally and nation wide. It's interesting that southeast Texas is home to the deadliest hurricane on record (1900 storm), the wettest hurricane in the U.S. (Harvey at 51 inches), the costliest tropical storm on record (Allison) and the greatest 24-hour rainfall total ever in the U.S. (Claudette).
Harvey set a new bar all together. Not only becoming the first major storm, based on wind only, in 12 years to hit the U.S. but it also became the first category 4 hurricane to hit Texas since Carla in 1961. Carla, like Harvey, also put KHOU in the spotlight making then little known Dan Rather famous for his reporting during Carla on Galveston Island.
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season ends in just 5 days. How incredibly devastating for the country. Overall 6 named storms hit the US, four of which were hurricanes and three of those were major. #KHOU11 pic.twitter.com/o3je3ELfTV— Blake Mathews (@KHOUBlake11) November 25, 2017
The 2017 season was exceptionally busy with 17 storms being recorded in the books and taking us all the way to the "R" storm for the first time since 2012.
The preseason forecast in April from Colorado State University suggested it would be a near normal season with 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).
The final total was 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes -- six of which made landfall in the United States or U.S. territory. Three of those six were major hurricanes including: Harvey (Texas), Irma (Florida) and Maria (Puerto Rico).
While it hasn't happened yet, Harvey, Irma and Maria, amongst others perhaps, are guaranteed to be retired and will never be used again due to sensitivity issues.
Hurricane Irma set a new record of maintaining category 5 hurricane status longer than any other Atlantic storm in history (3 days) and maintained winds of 185 mph longer than any other storm (37 hours). It is the second strongest hurricane observed in the Atlantic. Allen was the strongest with 190 mph winds in 1980.
Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, wiping out homes, businesses and the power grid. Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years when it hit as a high end category 4 hurricane.
The 2017 season seemed like a doozy -- and it was! However there have been other devastating seasons in years past but human memory is short. The 2005 season saw 28 storms from June until January and gave birth to Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Katrina was the deadliest, Rita prompted the largest evacuation in US history and Wilma was the strongest Atlantic basin storm on record based on pressure.
The 2004 season saw four hurricanes hit Florida including Charley, Frances, Jean and Ivan.
In 1886, not only did four hurricanes hit Texas in the same year but three hurricanes also hit Florida!
So yes, 2017 was an incredibly devastating season but it was bound to happen. It was quiet for far too long but served as a nasty reminder just how powerful and earth-shattering these storms can be.
While it is exceedingly unlikely that Houston will face a calamity like Harvey next hurricane season, there's no atmospheric law that says it can't happen again. Our location on the gulf coast guarantees Houston will again be visited by a hurricane and it could happen next year. Let's all pray it doesn't.
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