Hurricane Irma begins its assault, while Texas and Louisiana begin the long road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey.
No one, of course, knows exactly what damage Irma will unleash, but it is likely to be quite different from what Harvey wrought. That’s because no two storms are alike.
Business Insider touches on the differences:
While Harvey’s record rains drenched southeastern Texas and western Louisiana, flooding Houston in over 4 feet of rainfall, Irma’s winds — if they stay as strong as they were on Tuesday evening — could flatten buildings, trees, and power lines on the Caribbean islands it’s threatening to devour.
At its peak, Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, but its weakened winds downgraded it to a tropical storm the day after it made landfall. Irma, meanwhile, is a Category 5 monster that’s already one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded — and it’s still strengthening.
Meanwhile, Live Science laments the problems with shoehorning all the complexities of a hurricane into a single number, like Category 5.
As a Category 4 storm, Harvey’s winds meaning landfall blew between 130 and 156 mph. But catastrophe modeling firm RMS said the storm packed only one-fifth the total energy of Hurricane Ike, a Category 2 storm that struck the same area in 2008.
Harvey became an enormous flood because the storm lost almost all its forward momentum upon reaching land.
Meanwhile Irma is among the most powerful storms ever to cross the Atlantic, but doesn’t threaten a Harvey-like deluge. It is delivering, however, bark-shredding winds that will cause catastrophic damage.
Both storms, though, are tragedies.
If you are bracing yourself for Irma, FEMA has advice here.