The hurricane season already started off in a terrifying way, leaving Texas residents to deal with over three feet of rain in some areas.
Hurricane Harvey was noted for its unusual amount of moisture, doing most of its damage with high levels of rain rather than fast winds. As individuals, businesses, and communities work to repair the damage in one area of the country, another storm poses a threat to a different location – one that knows all too well how devastating hurricanes could be.
While there is still time for things to change, Hurricane Irma may make landfall in Florida if it remains on its current path. The storm has reached Category 5 levels, meaning it has the potential to destroy entire areas in a short time with winds above 157 mph.
The National Hurricane Center has already issued warnings for the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Though nothing is certain yet concerning landfall in the continental U.S., Florida governor Rick Scott isn’t taking any chances given the information that has already been released.
The governor has activated the state’s National Guard, and a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for the Florida Keys. In a statement, he said: “We do not know the exact path of this storm, but weather can change in an instant, and while we hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst.”
After forming on the coast of western Africa a week ago, Irma gained considerable strength as it moved swiftly toward the Caribbean.
Irma’s windspeeds make it as powerful as a severe tornado, and the newest measurements place the wind speeds at around 185 mph. This would make it the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record.
Experts are holding off on announcing projected landfall, though they’re going by computer models to track the storm’s path ahead of time. The data doesn’t look good, as some models show the storm traveling up the east coast and bringing storm-force winds to the Florida area by the end of the week.
Irma’s ability to pick up strength quickly has been similar to Harvey’s. Factors like a warm tropical Atlantic, a move from drier climates, and low wind shear means the storm could exceed estimates for average accumulated cyclone energy during this time of the year.
An active hurricane season didn’t surprise everyone, as many scientists announced ahead of time that more storms than usual could be expected in the 2017 Atlantic season. More often than not, hurricanes in this season occur in September. This means the worst could be yet to come in an already devastating period.
Harvey’s damage already leveraged a large amount of resources during the recovery process. With costs being estimated to represent a 0.8 percent ding to U.S. GDP and slowing down several industries nationwide, it remains to be seen how the recovery efforts will be handled for Irma should the storm make landfall.
Meteorologists are continuing to monitor the storm on a constant basis, and additional evacuation orders may be issued as the storm draws closer.