Has this hurricane season been the worst one yet?

WKBN First News looked into how 2017's hurricane season measures up to other years

Hurricane Irma arrives at the Boynton Beach inlet. Boynton Beach, FL. 9/10/17. AP Staff Photographer Jim Rassol
Hurricane Irma arrives at the Boynton Beach inlet. Boynton Beach, FL. 9/10/17. AP Staff Photographer Jim Rassol

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We’ve had an active hurricane season with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma making landfall on the United States.

There’s no doubt that this hurricane season has been devastating, with billions of dollars in damage in multiple states, leaving thousands without shelter.

But it’s not quite over. We’re now watching Jose and Maria near the coast.

With topics like climate change and the human impact on the environment, it could be thought that 2017 is the worst hurricane season.

Statistics prove otherwise, however.

So far this season, we have seen 13 named tropical storms — less than half of what the most active season saw in 2005, with 28 named storms.

Tom Schmidlin, a meteorologist and professor at Kent State University, said the perception that this hurricane season has been the worst is, in part, due to the paths that these storms took.

“Sometimes these big storms will turn and not hit any land, but this year, we’ve had the bad luck of these storms hitting the Caribbean islands and the coming right into the U.S. But it’s been very active that way, with the number of hurricanes that we’ve seen Category 3 or higher,” he said. “The path, however, is probably bad luck, with the path coming into the United States.”

What makes this season notable is that two major hurricanes hit in the same season.

Youngstown State University Professor Felicia Armstrong explains it’s where these major hurricanes are getting their fuel.

“What climate change is doing is putting more energy into the environment. More energy as heat into the oceans,” she said. “When the hurricanes start forming then, they get that energy from the oceans and atmosphere, and they can grow even greater than what they have in the past.”

Ocean temperatures to fuel and sustain a hurricane are usually 79 degrees.

When Hurricane Irma struck the Carribean, ocean temperatures were above 86 degrees, giving Irma the energy to become a Category 5 Hurricane.

Ohio sees the remnants of these storms. In 2008, when Hurricane Ike reached Ohio from Texas, we saw 60 mph winds, damages to homes, and more than 2 million people without power.

It’s always possible for Ohio to receive the effects of hurricanes, although Schmidlin said we haven’t seen much of that impact this year.

“The remains of Harvey went over Ohio without much rain, but it’s certainly possible yet this season for a storm on the Atlantic or the Gulf to maintain a large rainshield and affect Ohio,” he said.

As for Hurricanes Jose and Maria, neither are expected to make landfall in the United States, but peak hurricane season does continue until November.

 

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