The 2017 hurricane season, the most active in more than a century

Hurricane Irma as it passes through the Virgin Islands

Hurricane Irma.
Image - NOAA

During 2017 there have been several hurricanes that have caused significant damage, not only material but also human loss. Just Irma, category 5, which lasted from August 30 to September 15, left $ 118 in losses and 127 deaths. It was the most expensive since Katrina, 2003. But we will not only remember Irma: there are other names that will not be easy to forget either, such as Harvey o María.

Last weekend we had Nate, which went from being a tropical storm that devastated Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to a Category 1 hurricane that threatened Mexico and part of the United States coast. With this phenomenon, at the moment there are 9 active hurricanes of the season, the most active for more than a century.

Although observations were once made from land or from boats, which makes it very difficult to know if ten hurricanes formed some year, the reality is that the 2017 season is being especially active in the Atlantic, since at least 1893. But why?

Experts have already predicted that this season would be more active than normal.. The average surface temperature of the Atlantic Ocean, combined with a weak phenomenon of El Niño, have allowed several hurricanes to form and some of them very intense.

Damages in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane María

Hurricane Maria damage in Puerto Rico.
Image - Carlos García / Reuters

Hurricanes feed on the heat of the oceans. The higher the ocean temperature, the more cyclones are expected to form. But, in addition, if we continue to use the seas as a landfill, we will not only be endangering the life of marine fauna, but also our own survival. Plastic is a material that accumulates heat and can increase the temperature of the water. The recent find of a new island of plastic garbage in the Pacific, which is the size of Mexico and is larger than Spain, should help us to put measures that serve to begin to respect the planet on which we live.

If we don't, we will have to get used to increasingly destructive weather events.

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