News 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Oct 02, 2017
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:

There has been scattered flooding across Barbados; some vessel damage near Bridgetown where operators had difficulties securing their vessels.

Rainfall ahead of the hurricane caused several landslides and high-water levels across the island. Winds blew off the roofs off many houses, including that of the Prime Minister. Initial radio reports on 19th September indicated damage to 90% of structures, including the island's primary hospital. CDEMA estimates that the hurricane has caused "billions of dollars" worth of damage. Through the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, Dominica received approximately US$19.2 million in emergency funds.

The combination of rough seas and winds was responsible for widespread structural damage and flooding throughout the archipelago. Aside from wind-related effects, rainfall from Maria was also significant. The islands of Marie-Galante, La Désirade and especially Les Saintes bore the brunt of the winds, which caused heavy damage to structures. On the mainland, sections of Pointe-à-Pitre stood under more than 1 m of water and the city's hospital sustained significant damage. The Basse-Terre region lost circa 100% of its banana crops. Damage from Maria across Guadeloupe amounted to at least US$120 million.

Turks and Caicos
Maria has caused some flooding and further damage to property following Irma but fortunately has not exacerbated the situation extensively.

St Kitts and Nevis
Some building and infrastructure damage as well as restricted electricity. Most damage was evident on Nevis

Montserrat was impacted by Hurricane Irma on 6 September and Hurricane Maria on 19 September and some roads still remain impassable, though the main road has been cleared of trees, power lines and rocks. There are still limits on access to communications and electricity is already restored to more than 90 percent. There is some damage to property. Air and ferry services have been fully restored.

Sint Maarten/St Martin
It is estimated that Irma destroyed some 60% to 70% of the buildings on both sides of the island, there are severe communication problems. There was also extensive damage to the famous Princess Juliana International Airport.

Maria brought torrential rainfall and strong gusts to Martinique but spared the island of its hurricane-force winds. Numerous roads and streets were rendered impassable and along the coast, rough seas demolished some structures and damaged boats. Martinique lost about 70% of its banana crops.

United States Virgin Islands
Maria's crossed Saint Croix at Category 5 intensity. The hurricane caused extensive and severe damage to the island. The Luis Hospital suffered roof damage and flooding but remained operational.

Puerto Rico
Widespread flooding affected the capital San Juan and numerous structures lost their roof. The coastal La Perla area of San Juan was largely destroyed and Cataño saw extensive damage. The main airport has reopened on an altered schedule.
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.

The nearby island of Vieques suffered similarly extensive damage. Total estimates are that damage incurred in Puerto Rico is circa $50 billion.

Dominican Republic
Torrential rains and strong winds impacted the Dominican Republic. Initial assessments indicate 110 homes were destroyed, 570 were damaged and 3,723 were affected by flooding.