Thornton_Tomasetti_ 2018 hurricanes

Following the year with the worst storm that the USA has seen in 10 years, 2018 has been marked by hurricanes resulting in apocalyptic damage and thousands of deaths. Whilst 2017’s Hurricane Harvey losses were expected to reach $20 billion, they actually amounted to $125 billion, second only to Hurricane Katrina which amounted to $161 billion and the total costs for 2017 amounting to $306 billion.

Following a relatively calm post-Katrina period, no category 3 storms made landfall on US mainland between 2006-2016. After being hit by four category 4 hurricanes between 2017 and 2018, the last two storm seasons have served as reminders of just how much havoc they can wreak. Hurricane Harvey brought record flooding, Hurricane Irma the record duration of speed, Hurricane Maria was Puerto Rico’s deadliest disaster, Hurricane Florence the wettest storm to hit the Carolinas, and Hurricane Michael the strongest storm to hit Florida Panhandle.

The record ferocity of these hurricanes combined with the apocalyptic damage and thousands of deaths forced increasingly frantic discussions regarding disaster preparedness and climate change. The last few months also delivered painful lessons on a range of related issues such as building regulations helping homes stay upright and dry, residential proximity to a rising ocean and whether the Saffir Simpson wind scale, used to rank the storms’ strengths, is a system in need of an update for assessing overall risk.

Find out more about the effects of this year’s major hurricanes in the USA here.