In just one devastating month, Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean were changed forever. Three monster hurricanes swept in from the Atlantic during the summer of 2017, one after another, shattering storm records and killing hundreds of people.

First, Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic rain and flooding to Houston, causing $125 billion in damage. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Irma lashed the Caribbean with 180 mile per hour winds—and decimated the island of Barbuda. Hot on Irma’s heels, Hurricane Maria intensified from a tropical depression to a Category 5 hurricane in just 54 hours, then ravaged Puerto Rico and left millions of people without power.

Are these superstorms the new normal? Each storm surpassed records, and all three caught forecasters by surprise. Hurricane Harvey produced a one-two punch — rapidly increasing in strength, and then delivering huge amounts of rainfall. Hurricane Irma was unusual because it maintained its top wind speeds of 180 miles per hour for so long — 18 hours. Hurricane Maria was one of the most rapidly intensifying hurricanes on record. What can be done to better predict their path and intensity?

MORE: 10 Facts About Hurricanes: Nature's deadliest storms

Millions of Houston residents were told to shelter in place, rather than evacuate, but rising floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey made cars and homes unsafe. Hurricane Irma flattened the island of Barbuda, and the Prime Minister called the country “uninhabitable. ” In Puerto Rico, jobs and homes were permanently lost, and hundreds of thousands of people fled the island. With so many unable to return to their homes after these storms, does North America need to prepare for the reality of climate refugees?

Rise of the Superstorms takes you inside the 2017 hurricane season and examines the cutting-edge research that will determine how well equipped we are to deal with similar storms in the future.

 

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