Homeowners, business owners, and relief workers are still cleaning up the hurricane damage after Harvey, Irma, and Maria. But now that the 2017 hurricane season has come to an end, experts are saying it was the most expensive in United States history, causing an estimated total of more than $200 billion in damage. In addition to the three storms that got the most media attention, there were 14 other named storms between June 1 and November 30. The previous record for the worst single season’s hurricane damage was the year 2005 when Hurricane Katrina and 27 other named storms caused $159 billion in damage.
The lion’s share of the hurricane damage done in 2017 was done by Irma, Maria, and Harvey, and some say that the $200 billion estimate may be conservative. In late August, Harvey ‘s four feet of rainfall flooded Houston, with some saying that storm alone may have caused $180 billion in damage.
Why 2017’s Storms Caused So Much Hurricane Damage
Storms always have the potential to cause tremendous harm, but the hurricane damage experienced during the 2017 storm season was a result of several factors. According to a report issued Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, there was unusually warm water fueling this season’s storms, and that is what provides hurricanes with their energy. Had the Atlantic Ocean’s temperatures been cooler, there would not have been as many storms, and what storms occurred would not have been as strong. Additionally, upper-level winds that can break up hurricanes were not as robust as normal this season.
The experts who reviewed and assessed this year’s hurricane damage are now looking to the future, trying to determine whether it is a harbinger of things to come. Though scientists are not yet ready to blame the situation on human-influenced climate change, they are warning that there may be more volatile weather in the future and that homeowners and business owners, as well as governments, need to take protective measures to fortify and protect buildings and infrastructure.