Atlantic hurricane season is finally over
The horrible hurricane season that we desperately wanted to end in August and then September, but which callously refused, is finally over. It ranks as the most destructive and among the busiest on record. Three storms in particular, Harvey, Irma and Maria, did the lion’s share of the damage, unleashing a full-on assault on somany vulnerable shores - many of which are still recovering.
In all, 17 named storms raked across the Atlantic Ocean basin. Ten became hurricanes, six of them major, rating Category 3 or higher on the Saffir- Simpson scale. The busiest and most painful part of the season was from late August to early October, when 10 hurricanes exploded over the abnormally warm tropical waters in 10 weeks.
September marked the brunt of the stretch, setting a monthly record for accumulated cyclone energy or ACE, a measure of storm power and longevity. On Sept. 8, more ACE was generated than any other day in recorded history, dating to 1851. That day, Irma was a Category 5 hurricane, Jose was a Category 4 hurricane, and Katia a Category 2 hurricane. Maria would form just a couple of weeks later.
This season as a whole racked up the seventh-most ACE on record, joining the ranks of truly notable and memorable seasons such as 1933, 2005, 1893, 1926, 1995, 2004, 1950, 1961 and 1998.
The storms that formed this season were a magnet for land masses. Of the 17 named storms that formed, only six did not hit land. Few areas along the U. S. Gulf and Southeast coasts as well as the Caribbean were spared from at least indirect effects.
The season’s most notorious hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria— were also among the most intense, their peak winds reaching 130 mph, 185 mph and 175 mph, respectively. Allmade landfall at or very close to their peak intensities. This was the first year on record that the continental United States experienced two Category 4 hurricane landfalls: Harvey and Irma.
Harvey will be most remembered for its unprecedented 60 inches of rain in Southeast Texas, the most of any storm recorded in U. S. history, and the catastrophic flooding that resulted. The storm dropped the equivalent of 33 trillion gallons of water on the United States.