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Re: A good debate which of the big three was the worst

Posted by Chris in Tampa on 11/17/2017, 9:43 pm

I think that's a good order. Maria will take the longest to recover from in Puerto Rico. Obviously Irma's impact on Barbuda was catastrophic, with many other islands suffering significant damage, and that will take a very long to recover from as well, but the large population impacted by Maria I think makes it worse than the rest. (I still don't know how well Cuba did from Irma though.) I think Harvey is worse than Irma in terms of the population significantly impacted. The damage in some areas of the Keys from Irma was very significant, as was the area where Harvey initially made landfall. I think the flooding from Harvey impacted many more than those in Florida. The water along the Florida coast receded pretty quick compared to the long standing waters in Texas and Louisiana. The catastrophic impacts in the Caribbean from Irma though make it a tough call as to which was worse, Harvey or Irma. But with a few thousand people having lived on Barbuda compared to the number of structures flooded in Harvey, I think Harvey is worse. I know Irma impacted more than Barbuda, but that was the worst hit.

When thinking about which is worse, you have to think about a variety of impacts and storm metrics. I think it's a good exercise. We need to know how storms compare not simply during the year, but year to year. Are they getting worse? Are some particular impact less or more than it used to be? Are other reasons to blame? Not just climate change, but Houston having so much land paved for example. Poor infrastructure in Puerto Rico helping making it worse. When you think about how the storm ranks to each other, you have to think about all these things and how it all contributes in addition to such meteorological issues such as wind speed, storm size, storm surge, tornadoes, rainfall, etc. I think it is more about what you learn when trying to rank them than about the actual rank. Harvey will forever be known for it's rainfall. So regardless of where one attempts to rank it, that will be what it is most notable for.

But it would be nice to know when considering all factors, are storms worse than they used to be? You have to also consider how population increases and changes to the land are impacting things. Building codes, land elevation, etc. No doubt, there is uncertainty in all of it. For most people, they just want to know about their particular location, but it would be nice to know much more generally, for the entire basin.

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A good debate which of the big three was the worst - jimw, 11/14/2017, 6:36 am

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