This is the first time in the history of record keeping that two Category 4 or higher hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have struck the U.S. mainland in the same year.
“That is extraordinary by itself,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder, president and chairman, said. “And also unprecedented is that this particular storm, Irma, has sustained intensity for the longest period of time of any hurricane or typhoon in any ocean of the world since the satellite era began,” Myers said.
These types of storms cause extremely hazardous conditions, including flying objects, fallen trees, downed power lines, which carry the potential for electrocution, broken window glass on homes and cars and damage to roofs and other structures. Storm surge was another major threat.
Hurricane Irma caused damage from all three factors — wind, flooding from heavy rain, and damage from the sea in different places in Florida.
“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion,” Myers said.
“We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP. Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP, which will about equal and therefore counter the natural growth of the economy for the period of mid-August through the end of the fourth quarter,” Myers added.
Huge Economic Costs
Economic costs are incurred by, but not limited to, the following:
- Disruptions to businesses
- Increased unemployment rates for weeks, and possibly months in some places
- Damage to transportation, infrastructure
- Crop loss, including cotton crop and 25 percent of orange crop, which will impact the cost of consumables for all Americans
- Increased gasoline, heating oil, and jet fuel prices impacting all Americans
- Damage to homes, cars, furniture, antiques, jewelry, and other valuables
- Loss of valuable papers and cherished belongings such as photos
“Some of the losses will be covered by insurance, some will not, so the losses will be felt in a variety of ways by millions of people. Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another,” Myers said.