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Timeline recounts the devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and storms that made it memorable

By Jennifer Fabiano, AccuWeather staff writer
November 15, 2017, 1:17:47 PM EST

With 17 storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is considered a hyperactive season, according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

While the season on a whole was impressive, three storms stand out to Kottlowski as really making this season memorable. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are all storms that stand out even in this hyperactive season.

Hurricane Harvey was the first of the three storms, developing on Aug. 17. Harvey started out right around the middle of August as a tropical storm east of the Lesser Antilles.

The storm moved northwest and had a hard time strengthening, according to Kottlowski. But eventually, after the storm moved across the Yucatan Peninsula, it made landfall in southern Texas as a Category 4 storm. The storm moved inland just to the north of Corpus Christi and caused massive flooding in Houston.

The maximum wind speed of Hurricane Harvey was 130 mph. According to Colorado State University, Harvey lasted 117 hours after making landfall in Texas, beating the previous record of Hurricane Fern that lasted 54 hours in 1971.

Harvey is the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961 and the first in the United States since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

As Hurricane Harvey dissipated on Sept. 1, Hurricane Irma became a tropical storm on Aug. 30. Irma came off the coast of Africa as a strong tropical wave and slowly intensified from a tropical storm to become an extremely powerful storm.

Irma had a maximum wind speed of 185 mph, the highest of all storms this season. This speed tied with three other storms for second strongest max winds of all time for an Atlantic hurricane. The storm maintained these 185-mph winds for 37 hours, the longest any cyclone around the globe has maintained that intensity.

Irma was also the first Category 5 hurricane in the tropical Atlantic (7.5-20 degrees north, 60-20 degrees west) since Hugo in 1989, according to Colorado State University.

Irma’s strength took a tremendous toll on Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands, according to Kottlowski. The storm continued to move westward causing major damage in the Turks and Caicos and brushing the northern coast of Cuba as a Category 5 storm. The storm then turned north and went across the Florida Keys, causing major damage and power outages.

“It takes a long time to recover from something like this,” Kottlowski said. Kottlowski estimated it could take about five to 10 years for the islands to recover fully from the damage caused by Irma.

Maria damage

Damaged and destroyed homes are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Maria was a very similar storm to Hurricane Irma, according to Kottlowski. Both storms developed from a tropical wave that came off the coast of Africa. But in contrast, Maria did not intensify until it reached the Lesser Antilles. Maria caused major damage to the island of Dominica and to Puerto Rico.

“Maria will go down in history as one of the worst storms, if not the worst storm, to ever hit Puerto Rico,” Kottlowski said.

Though official damage estimates will not be known for another six months to a year, Kottlowski believes this could be the most damaging year on record between Harvey, Irma and Maria.

"The damage estimates are going to be phenomenal for this year,” Kottlowski said.

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The hyperactive season was notable because these three storms contributed to most of the damage caused by the hurricane season. According to Kottlowski, six storms never even came close to landfall.

“Others that made landfall in United States really did not amount to any major damage,” Kottlowski said.

The official 2017 Atlantic hurricane season comes to a close on Nov. 30, but it’s possible to see hurricanes even into December, according to Kottlowski.

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