Hurricane season has stuck once again, but this year has been a record breaker in many ways. The US has never been hit by storms this strong (both Harvey and Irma hit as Category 4 hurricanes) in the same season in modern records. First, it was Hurricane Harvey in Texas and then Hurricane Irma in Florida. But which one was more destructive? Below, we’ll take a look at the numbers to make our conclusion.
Hurricane Harvey – The Numbers
Hurricane Harvey first hit the US as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, August 25th, but was later downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday. Hurricanes are categorized by wind speed and from this experts give an indication of the level of damage to expect.
Category 5 is the most intense with 157 mph or higher winds. Category 4 hurricanes have winds of 130-156 mph. Both of these are major level hurricanes in which catastrophic damage will occur, including snapped and uprooted trees and power poles and many homes will be destroyed. Areas hit by these hurricanes will be uninhabitable for weeks to months due to clean up and power outages. The lowest category before being downgraded to a tropical storm is a category 1, which has winds 74-95 mph.
Even though a hurricane might be downgraded to a tropical storm, that doesn’t mean the overall damages will be less. Excessive rainfall and flooding can cause extensive damages. Hurricane Harvey broke the national record for rainfall from a single tropical storm or hurricane!
A weather station in Houston registered over 51 inches of rain, which is more than 4 feet of rainfall. The previous record was 48 inches (also in Texas), but in 1978. The National Weather Service (NWS) even had to update their color chart to accurately reflect the amount of rainfall on Texas! In total, somewhere around 19 trillion gallons of rain fell in Texas during Hurricane Harvey. In comparison, only 6.5 trillion gallons fell during Hurricane Katrina and approximately 10 trillion gallons fell on Florida during Hurricane Irma.
FEMA Administrator, Brock Long, told CNN that “”FEMA is going to be there [in Texas] for years” to help them recover from the damages of Hurricane Harvey. Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimates Harvey will cost the state up to $150 to 190 billion. Hurricane Harvey has displaced more than 1 million and damaged some 200,000 homes, and has left more than 70 people dead.
Hurricane Irma – The Numbers
Hurricane Harvey wasn’t the only storm that set records. Irma maintained 180 mph wind speeds for 37 hours, which set a record for the most intense storm for such a long duration anywhere on Earth. It was also the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Katrina in 2005.
Hurricane Irma first hit the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane on September 10 at around 9 am with powerful winds of up to 130 mph, plus rain and flooding. The NWS A recorded a storm surge of 10 feet in the Florida Keys. Irma then made its second landfall at Marco Island at around 4 pm and was downgraded to a tropical storm the follow day.
The current death toll of Hurricane Irma is 75 across the state of Florida. More than 4.7 million accounts were without power in Florida, which is about 62 percent of the state’s total customers. According to Moody’s Analytics, Irma will definitely be one of the costliest natural disasters in recent history, but less than Hurricane Harvey and Sandy. Irma is estimated to cost between $64-92 billion.
Comparing Hurricane Horrors
Comparing the relative horror and disaster of one hurricane to another is difficult to determine. Insurance claims can only offer estimates on damages to homes, cars, furniture, and other valuables. Other economic costs include damage to infrastructure and transportation, disruptions to businesses, crop losses (cotton and orange crops), and increased unemployment rates. But the deaths and mental, physical, and emotional suffering of those having to rebuild their lives cannot be compared.
Hurricane season isn’t over yet. There could be another storm this season, and if not, there’s definitely one for the season after that. There’s no way around it. You need to be prepared and protect your home or business. Protecting your home or business with storm catcher screens, shutters, storm panels and more is becoming a no-brainer for Florida home- and business owners.
Get in touch with a leader in hurricane protection products. Call 239-274-2700 to speak with one of our Storm Smart experts. When the storm blows in, Storm Smart helps keep your worries at bay.