2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Hurricane Harvey produced the highest-ever rainfall total for any Atlantic tropical cyclone in the US. Hurricane Harvey arrived in Texas on 26th August causing damage to numerous structures, boats were capsized and both power lines and trees were downed.
Catastrophic flooding in Houston submerged roads and forced residents to their roofs. Hurricane Irma, was the strongest hurricane ever to form in the Atlantic. On 31st August, Irma transformed from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in just 12 hours. By 5th September, Irma was a Category 5 hurricane. In the aftermath of Irma, development on the islands of Barbuda and Saint Martin were described as being "95% destroyed" by respective political leaders.
On 6th September, the NHC upgraded Katia to hurricane status and on 8th September, Katia made landfall north of Tecolutla, Mexico as a weak Category 1 storm before rapidly dissipating over land and later emerged over the Pacific Ocean, where it redeveloped into Tropical Depression Fifteen-E and subsequently strengthened into Hurricane Otis. In preparation for Katia, many residents were evacuated, therefore although there was damage, fortunately it was significantly less than could have been expected.
Hurricane Jose instigated a mass evacuation of Barbuda on the 8th September, as most structures on the island had already been damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Fortunately, the inner core of the hurricane remained offshore and further damage was limited. The hurricane did however cause some problems to roads in North Carolina and Delaware on the US mainland.
Hurricane Maria, has become the second Category 5 hurricane of the season. Maria's landfall on Dominica makes 2017 only the second season on record to feature two hurricanes making landfall at Category 5 intensity. On September 19th, Maria made landfall on Dominica reportedly causing severe damage to housing. Maria attained its peak intensity 20th September near St. Croix and became the 10th strongest Atlantic hurricane since records began. Later that day, Maria made landfall just south of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, and emerging back over the Atlantic Ocean shortly before 18:00 UTC. After leaving Puerto Rico Maria reorganized and early on 21st September regained Category 3 intensity. On 21st September the system traversed the Dominican Republic and later an increase in southwesterly wind shear prompted gradual weakening of the hurricane. The storm finally weakened to Category 2 strength early on 24th September and to Category 1 on 25th September and she now continues northward.
We also note that during this period Mexico has suffered from a number of severe earthquakes, the latest major one on 23rd September, severely affecting Mexico City.
Damage has occurred across a vast area; hence we have set out below a summary of different locations impacted by these catastrophes:
Storm surges and flash flooding—stemming from flood gate releases at La Plata Lake Dam—converged on Toa Baja, trapping thousands when flood waters rose to 15 feet in some areas.
Hurricane Maria left all 3.4 million residents without electricity. Electricity is now intermittently restored in some parts of the island but some areas might be without power for four to six months. Communication networks are crippled and a curfew are in place.
The University of Puerto Rico has also been significantly damaged, leaving their campuses closed for at least several upcoming weeks.
The Guajataca Dam has been structurally damaged and tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the area. The main dish at Arecibo Observatory was damaged, greatly reducing its ability to function until repairs can be made.