Hurricane season is behind us for another year. With 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes, 2017 will go down in the history books for its above-average activity.
National Weather Service Director General John Tibbetts told Cayman 27 those major hurricanes helped fuel the seventh most active hurricane season ever recorded in terms of Accumulated Cyclonic Energy.
ACE, as it’s known, measures the intensity and duration of a storm.
“You can look at it in terms of the amount of energy that’s in the atmosphere, and the amount of energy that was used to generate all these huge powerful storms,” said Mr. Tibbetts.
In terms of individual storms, 2017’s heavy hitters were Irma, Maria, and Harvey.
Irma reached sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, causing at least 134 deaths. Maria followed a similar track, with winds peaking at 175 miles per hour and an official death toll of 103. Harvey’s winds topped out at 130 miles per hour, killing 91 and causing nearly $200 billion US in damages.
“Nobody gets spared when mother nature is sending something at you, what money you have in the bank doesn’t mean anything,” said Mr. Tibbetts.
Fortunately, we here came out mostly unscathed. Tropical Storm Nate delivered a sucker-punch that both toppled the Kittiwake and left the West Bay dock in tatters.
While it may be too early to predict what 2018 has in store, Mr. Tibbetts said he’s willing to take a guess.
“Usually you don’t get an active season sitting all by itself, so if this season is active, I would expect another active season next year, but again, there’s a lot of players involved and we have to see how they lineup,” he said.
Four storms came close enough to threaten the Cayman Islands. First there was Harvey, which passed our area as remnants before reforming and wreaking havoc over Texas.
Irma came within 300-something miles of Grand Cayman and put on a show with crashing waves and heavy surf.
Nate forever changed Cayman diving after tipping the Kittiwake on her side, and Philippe took a similar path to Nate before breaking up a few days later.