Tropical traffic stays brisk; Lee and Maria could be next

Tony Wood

Updated: Thursday, September 14, 2017, 4:29 PM

Xs mark the spots of two potential tropical storms.

The records for named tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin probably are safe, but the 2017 season still has 2 1/2 months to go and continues to produce brisk traffic.

Two more potential tropical storms were brewing Thursday. A wave off the African coast has a 70 percent likelihood becoming one in the next five days, according to the National Hurricane Center, as does a wave to the west of it.

So far, 11 named storms have developed – those with winds of at least 39 mph – and six hurricanes, winds of 74 mph or better.

Those are the averages for an entire season in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean and Gulf, and the season doesn’t end until Nov. 30.

It is way too early to get a handle on total damages thus far, but after 12 relatively benign years, unquestionably this will be the costliest hurricane season since 2005, the year of Katrina, and might even pass it.

AIR Worldwide, the catastrophe-modeling service, already has estimated that property losses could exceed $100 million from Harvey and Irma.

As devastating as it was, in terms of losses, it could have been far worse. Had Irma made landfall on the Atlantic Coast, rather than in southwestern Florida, the property losses likely would have been more staggering.

The total value of property in the three southeastern counties – Broward, Miami-Date, and Palm Beach – is over $800 billion, according to the Florida Revenue Department, about five times the value of the six counties to the west.

Even if the damage totals pass 2005, the storm numbers probably won’t. That season saw 27 tropical storms and 15 hurricanes.

Coincidentally, tropical-storm names operate on six-year cycles, thus this season's are in sync with 2005s? So why no Katrina? That name has been retired, as are the names of other particularly destructive storms.

Next in line would be Lee and Maria.

Tony Wood

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