Today marks the final day of the 2017 Hurricane Season, ending a very busy time in the tropics around North America.
The Atlantic basin saw 19 systems, 17 which were named. Of those 17 names storms, 10 became hurricanes and 6 of those were major hurricanes. There was also a significant volume of major hurricane landfalls: six, the most of any season on record in the Basin. It will be most remembered by destructive hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which together killed dozens and left more than 100,000 homeless. Hurricane Harvey struck on August 25, Hurricane Irma struck on September 11, and Hurricane Maria struck on September 20. 25.8million Americans were impacted by these storms, according to FEMA. Hurricane Harvey set a new rainfall record in the US, with more than 50″ of rain measured in Texas. Hurricane Irma became the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record with maximum sustained winds over 185mph; Irma also remained at hurricane strength for 11 days. Hurricane Maria was the first Category 4 hurricane to strike Puerto Rico in 85 years.
The Pacific basin saw a busy season around North America this year. The Pacific season, which started 2 weeks earlier than the Atlantic season on May 15 in the Eastern Pacific, featured 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. No hurricanes from the Central Pacific region impacted Hawaii; the Central Pacific Hurricane Season begins the same day as the Atlantic Season on June 1. 2017 also showed that storms can form out of season too. In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Adrian was named on May 10, making it the earliest known tropical storm since the advent of weather satellite imagery. Tropical Storm Selma was the most deadly storm of the Pacific storms. Selma struck at the end of October. Heavy rains produced by both Selma and a nearby frontal system resulted in flooding that killed 7 people in Honduras and an additional 10 people in Nicaragua.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long shared prepared remarks with Congress today. “I have been in office for just over five months, and I am proud to be part of an agency that, works every day to help communities reduce the risks associated with future disasters, as well as to assist disaster survivors all across the country. In this short time, our Nation has faced four catastrophic disasters. Hurricane Harvey struck Texas with both strong wind and record setting rainfall. Then, Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean, striking the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Georgia, and the entire state of Florida. Hurricane Maria followed, striking a devastating blow to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico,” he wrote.
While the Hurricane Season is over, the National Hurricane Center remains busy in the off-season preparing for the next season.