The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season still has several weeks to go yet its most active time, which runs from August 20th to October 20th, is now over. This season has now seen three powerful major hurricanes which included massive flooding and more than 425 deaths while destroying billions of dollars of property and leaving millions of people without electricity.
Power outage from these three storms left an estimated 11 million Americans without power for varying lengths of time during the September 1st to October 31st storms timeframes of this year. This includes a record six million Floridians without power during the height and immediate days following Hurricane Irma alone. As of this writing, an estimated 70% of Puerto Rico remains without electricity.
To date the 2017 season has seen a total 17 named storms of which 10 became named hurricanes with 6 of these storms becoming Category 3 or higher major hurricanes.
Damage estimates from just these three storms now total more than $188 billion dollars with Hurricane Harvey greater than $70 billion, Irma an estimated $63 billion and Maria at more than $54 billion. It will be several more months before the full amounts are known.
While the majority of pre-season scientific forecasts accurately predicted the number of named tropical storms at about 17 and named hurricanes at 10, they missed on the number of major hurricanes. The majority of these forecasts called for between 2 to 3 major hurricanes while this season has seen 6 major hurricanes.
Hurricanes Lee and Ophelia were Category 3s while Harvey and Jose were Category 4s with Irma and Maria at Category 5s. Harvey, Irma and Maria all made landfall in the U.S. with Maria also making a devastating hit on Puerto Rico.
Navitus Strategies recently spoke with Dr. Anthony Broccoli, a professor of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He also is the Co-Director of the Rutgers Climate Institute, one of the country’s leading climate research centers.
Rutgers formed its University wide Climate Institute to understand, among other worldwide climate issues, the mechanisms which drive global and regional climate change and to study the impacts of climate change, particularly its effects on densely populated, coastal regions given Rutgers’ proximity to the nearby New Jersey shore populations.
Per his University bio, “Dr. Broccoli studies changes in climate, both past and future, with a goal of better understanding the mechanisms responsible for such changes. He uses numerical models of the climate system in his research, carefully comparing their results with evidence from the climate record.”
In speaking with him this week, he pointed out so far this year’s Atlantic hurricane season does appear to have several factors considered to be above average when compared to other years.
He stated, “To date the 2017 season has seen a total of 17 named storms of which 10 became named hurricanes with 6 of these storms becoming Category 3 or higher major hurricanes.”
He made the comparison to the 2010 season, the closest to the present season stating, “For 2010, we saw 19 named tropical storms, 12 named hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes. However in 2010 none of the major hurricanes made U.S landfall while this year so far three major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria did make landfall in the U.S. These major hurricanes have factors which made them unusual, in terms of their strength and duration.”
Dr. Broccoli referred to Accumulated Cyclone Energy or ACE rating when describing these storms. This is a measure of storm intensity, currently at 220 which he stated might be on track to possibly be equal to or greater, by the time this season ends, than 2004 ACE rating of 226 and/or 2005’s ACE rating of 250.
He described how Hurricane Harvey quickly strengthened as in came in over the Texas shoreline right at the time it made landfall due to the lack of strong steering currents. This resulted in Harvey moving slowly inland producing unprecedented amounts of rain in many parts of the Houston region.
He stated Hurricane Irma was unusually intense for an unusually long period of time as it maintained an average of 185 mile per hour winds for well over twenty four hours which may be close to a record regarding storm intensity.
Dr. Broccoli stated current long term weather records do not in and of themselves indicate there is or will be an increase in the number of major hurricanes. However he stated this year’s Atlantic season might be an indicator major hurricanes could be more intense in the future due to warmer ocean water temperatures. He cautioned even this observation will need to be subject to additional study and research by the scientific community over the next six to twelve months as more complete data from these storms are analyzed.
(These are in the public domain, used in our news reporting and would not be altered in any manner or form by Navitus along with credit source provided.)
Source: NOAA – Multiple North Atlantic hurricane formations September 2017 (left photo)
Source: http://whnt.com/2017/09/06/irma-jose-and-katia-3-hurricanes-in-the-atlantic/ (right photo)
To learn about the Rutgers Climate Institute go to: http://climatechange.rutgers.edu/
See current U.S power outage events at: https://switchon.eaton.com/blackout-tracker
For a current 2017 “Individual Storm Summary” showing the name of the storms, their dates, wind speeds, barometric pressure and storm category rating, go to: http://weather.unisys.com/hurricane/atlantic/2017/
Robert Magyar is the Managing Director of Navitus Strategies, a private industry consultant to manufacturers, project developers and financers involved in distributed energy solutions for grid intertie applications. Mr. Magyar does not own any U.S. securities or have any direct or indirect financial arrangements with any of the firms and/or individuals listed in this article.