Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have been battering the Caribbean Islands, Cuba, and other areas around the southern states of the United States, including Florida and South Carolina. Hurricane Irma was first reported to be one of the largest hurricanes ever to formulate across the Atlantic, as it made its way menacingly across the ocean, as a category five storm. It has since been downgraded twice; firstly, to a category three, before eventually being dropped to category one after the storm had hit mainland America in Orlando. With large parts of the city of Miami underwater, and large-scale flooding along large parts of the coast, Hurricane Irma continues to devastate its way north along the coastline of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
“Hurricane Harvey could be as much as $180 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in American history, overtaking Hurricane Katrina.”
Hurricane Harvey began formulating as a slow-moving tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico around August 17th. As the winds rose to 80mph, it was quickly upgraded to a category one hurricane, before making the jump to category four as it churned towards mainland America, with winds rising to 130mph. Harvey then made landfall on August 25th in south-central Texas, with 130mph winds, heavy rainfall and a massive storm surge, swamping coastal areas. The storm was downgraded as it dissipated, but didn’t fully evaporate until over a week after initially making landfall. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has estimated that the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey could be as much as $180 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in American history, overtaking Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Irma followed a similar pattern to Harvey, starting around August 30th near the Cape Verde islands. Rapidly strengthening into a category 2 storm within 24 hours, its intensity fluctuated before eventually being upgraded to a category 4 hurricane on September 4th. After sweeping through Barbuda, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti between September 6th and 8th, Irma left much less destruction than scientists and climatologists initially feared. The storm was downgraded to a category 4 hurricane on 8th September, sustaining winds of around 150mph, before making landfall over mainland Florida in the early hours of September 10th. Hurricane Irma weakened significantly, being downgraded to a tropical storm the following day, before being further reduced to a tropical depression later that evening as it made its way across Georgia and Alabama. By September 13th, Hurricane Irma had dissipated over western parts of the state of Tennessee. Both storms have now passed, with the multi-year renovation beginning to take place in Texas and Florida.