The cost of US hurricanes

The cost of US hurricanes can be huge. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information) estimates the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey at about $180 billion. Some comparisons:

  • Harvey (2017) $180B
  • Katrina (2005) 160B
  • Sandy (2012) $70B
  • Andrew (1992) $48B
  • Ike (2008) $35B

Of course inflation, increased population and increased industrialisation need to be taken into account. And this is just the US costs, hurricanes ending up hitting the US coast have often already wreaked havoc in the Carribean.

And the cost of Harvey is yet to be determined accurately. Five days ago an estimate was $108 billion – see Harvey is likely to be the second-most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.

And there’s more bad news – Hurricane Irma is growing in strength and heading for Florida, passing by a number of Caribbean islands on the way.

Independent:  Hurricane Irma has become so strong it’s showing up as an earthquake on seismometers

Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have declared a state of emergency

irma-5-sept.jpg

Washington Post: Catastrophic Hurricane Irma — now a Cat 5 — is on a collision course with Florida

Hurricane Irma is an “extremely dangerous” Category 5, barreling toward the northern Lesser Antilles and Southern Florida. It’s already the strongest hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s likely to make landfall somewhere in Florida over the weekend.

If it does, the impact could be catastrophic.

The storm is life-threatening for the United States, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas. Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. A hurricane watch is in effect for Hispaniola and southeastern Bahamas.

With maximum winds of 185 mph, Irma is tied for the second strongest storm ever observed in the Atlantic. And in its Tuesday morning discussion, the National Hurricane Center said the storm is in an environment “ideal for some additional intensification.”

And inevitably these hurricanes raise a bigger storm, climate change debate.

As Irma looms, Harvey makes climate change clearly visible.

Hurricane Harvey is the biggest rain event in the nation’s history and could turn out to be one of the most destructive storms ever. Thousands of people are out of their homes, the death toll has been climbing, and people are still being rescued. The magnitude of Harvey shows the impact of climate change.

The Gulf of Mexico has increased in temperature because the planet is getting warmer, which made the storm catastrophic. Harvey is the symbol of what climate change impacts look like.

Harvey brewed in the Gulf of Mexico, but Irma is coming in off the Atlantic Ocean.

From WaPo six months ago: Gulf of Mexico waters are freakishly warm, which could mean explosive springtime storms

Water temperatures at the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and near South Florida are on fire. They spurred a historically warm winter from Houston to Miami and could fuel intense thunderstorms in the spring from the South to the Plains.

In the Gulf, the average sea surface temperature never fell below 73 degrees over the winter for the first time on record, reported Eric Berger of Ars Technica.

Galveston, Tex., has tied or broken an astonishing 33 record highs since Nov. 1, while neighboring Houston had its warmest winter on record.

The abnormally warm temperatures curled around the Gulf, helping Baton Rouge and New Orleans reach their warmest Februaries on record.

Meanwhile, a ribbon of toasty sea surface temperatures streamed north through the Straits of Florida supporting record-setting warmth over parts of the Florida peninsula.

The warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular, could mean that thunderstorms that erupt over the southern and central United States are more severe this spring. Berger explained in his Ars Technica piece: “While the relationship is far from absolute, scientists have found that when the Gulf of Mexico tends to be warmer than normal, there is more energy for severe storms and tornadoes to form than when the Gulf is cooler.”

The implications of the warm water for hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, are less clear.

The implications seem to be more clear now.

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1 Comment

  1. Joe Bloggs

     /  September 6, 2017

    How’s that Chinese hoax working for you now, you orange shitgibbon?