PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - This hurricane season will go down in the record books as a busy one, but it's also one many will remember because of how many made landfall. Luckily, much of our area was just brushed by minor impacts. We had a few close calls though.
Even though the season officially begins June 1, the season got an early start when Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the middle of the Atlantic. It became the second tropical storm to form in April on record in the Atlantic.
An early start doesn't always mean it'll be active. However, in this case it does.
Two tropical storms developed in June. Although the center of Cindy stayed to our west, it gave us quite a bit of rain in parts of Northwest Florida causing flooding in spots.
Activity really started cranking up in August with Franklin, the season's first hurricane, forming on August 9. It was the first of ten hurricanes in a row.
Harvey stayed weak for a while and then rapidly intensified into a major category four in the Gulf as it made landfall in Texas ending the nearly 12-year-long streak of no major hurricanes hitting U.S. soil. It produced unbelievable flooding (up to 60 inches) in the Houston metro area as Harvey's remnants sat over the area for five days. Flooding was also a huge issue for much of eastern Texas and Louisiana.
September is usually the peak of hurricane season, and it was no different this year.
Then, Irma became a tropical storm as it emerged off the coast of Africa more than 3,000 miles away. Several days later, Irma strengthened to a category five as it barreled through the Caribbean. Winds peaked at 185 mph, which made it the strongest storm in the Atlantic outside of the Caribbean or Gulf. Irma made landfall early on September 10 as a 130 mph category four in the Florida Keys before weakening and going up the west coast of Florida. It affected southwest Florida as a category three and the Tampa Bay area as a 100 mph category two storm. Because the wind field was so large, we had winds gusts under 50 mph here in Northwest Florida. The unusual part was that we were getting a northerly flow around Irma so it was very cool here with temperatures in the 60s. A lot of the water was pushed out of the bays, too. Water levels were a few feet below normal before gradually returning back to normal.
By mid-September, Maria rapidly strengthened from a tropical storm to a category five hurricane in less hours. It ravaged several of the Caribbean islands. It hit Puerto Rico as a strong category four with 155 mph winds making it the strongest storm to hit the island territory in 85 years.
Nate formed in October and made landfall as a category one hurricane in Mississippi. It was close enough to give us a little rain and some minor storm surge.
Ophelia became the tenth hurricane of the season in the North Atlantic. It actually caused issues for the United Kingdom.
The season ended with Tropical Storm Philippe, which hit south Florida, and Tropical Storm Rina which stayed in the middle of the Atlantic.
In all, 2017 had the most active season since 2012 with 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, 6 major hurricanes. Two of those hurricanes were category five.
If we learned anything, it's to always be prepared. Have your basic supplies ready. Then, make necessary preparations to protect life and property if a storm is two days away.
If you have any questions as to how you should prepare, please reach out to the Vipir Weather Team.
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