As the 2018 hurricane season kicks off, let’s take a look back at last year’s devastating season what it’s lingering effect could mean for this year’s season.
Four Storms, Billions In Damages
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest season on record with a damage total of at least $282.16 billion (USD) in the U.S.A. More than 99.7 percent of the season’s damage was due to three of the season’s major hurricanes – Harvey, Maria, and Irma. A fourth, weaker storm, Nate, didn’t cause serious damage in the U.S. but did cause widespread destruction and casualties in Central America.
Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Texas and surrounding areas dumping a years-worth of rain in less than a week on Houston and much of southeastern Texas. Needless to say, widespread flooding was one of the most impactful consequences. To date, Harvey ranks as the second-most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since 1900, causing about $125 billion in damage.
Irma & Maria
Many islands in the Caribbean, including U.S. territories, are still recovering from Irma and Maria, which hit these vulnerable islands less than one month apart in September 2017.
Irma was the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded. Its winds devastated the island nation of Barbuda, damaging 95% of the buildings there. For weeks, relatives desperately tried to get in touch with their loved ones on the island. After making its mark on several more islands in the Caribbean, Irma then made its way to the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, causing significant damage, heavy flooding and electricity outages, especially on the Florida Keys.
Almost ten months after passing, Hurricane Maria still routinely makes it to the evening news because of the impressive damage and ongoing reconstruction effort disparities in Puerto Rico.
To this date, there are still thousands of U.S. citizens without power in Puerto Rico, in what is now the largest blackout in U.S. history and second-largest power outage in the world. Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico is still up for debate, with studies and the Puerto Rican government citing that the toll is far greater than the official death toll of 64.
Nate formed on the southwestern Caribbean on October 3. After making landfall in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, it sped northwestward at 29 mph (47 km/h), the fastest-moving tropical system ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, and landed in Mississippi.
Nate didn’t cause as much damage as anticipated in the U.S.A, but some countries in Central America weren’t as fortunate. To date, Hurricane Nate has been the costliest natural disaster in Costa Rican history.
As small nations and territories with fractured economies and recovering infrastructures still struggle to recover from last year’s damages, this year’s hurricane season poses even greater threats.