As the 10th consecutive hurricane of the season, Ophelia signals a dangerous trend.
The relentless 2017 hurricane season rages on this week with the formation of Tropical Storm Ophelia, a storm that formed in the central Atlantic on Monday and is expected to become a hurricane as early as this Wednesday.
While the storm is not currently a land threat, with its path predicted to remain entirely within the Atlantic Ocean and far from the shores of Morocco and Portugal, Ophelia’s formation is still setting a historic precedent. Should it reach hurricane strength as predicted, Ophelia will become the 10th consecutive storm to grow to hurricane strength this season, thereby tying a storm record that hasn’t been set since the late 1800s, the Miami Herald reports. If one more hurricane were to form immediately after Ophelia, that century-old record would be broken.
The particularly devastating storm season has already seen horrific land threats in Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Maria, and Nate, three of which were category 5 storms, and has had a total of 15 named storms so far. Although Ophelia is not predicted to make landfall, the storm still points to a disturbing and abnormal trend in the strength and ferocity of the 2017 storm season.
The Miami Herald reports that the accumulated cyclone energy, which measures the intensity and longevity of storm activity, is 254 percent higher than average, according to University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. He says this season is so lethal because of a combination of timing and luck, with warm sea temperatures and favorable atmospheric conditions making for the perfect hurricane brewing environment.
“It’s just a matter of having one of those waves at the right time at the right place,” McNoldy said.
Although Time reports that this is only the 17th deadliest hurricane season since 1900, it could also become the second most costly after the Katrina season of 2005. With places like Puerto Rico still left largely without power and struggling for adequate aid, the damaging effects of the 2017 season are far from over.
The Miami Herald also states that the most hurricanes have historically hit Florida in the month of October, meaning the season could still be ramping up in that area of the country in particular. Once November hits, though, many states can finally breathe a sigh of relief.