Hurricane Irma has reached category 5-level winds, according to the latest reports from the Atlantic Ocean. If it hits land near Texas, it could destroy an oil and gas network already ailing from historic rainfall courtesy of its predecessor, Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey knocked out one-fifth of oil production in the United States due to its activity in the Gulf of Mexico and certain parts of Texas. Still, it is uncertain if the newest hurricane will hit Texas at all. Some models strongly suggest the storm will turn north and hit the East coast, but there is a chance it could hit Houston – the nation’s energy capital.
So far Irma is only confirmed to hit Florida, a state that has already declared a state of emergency to prevent prices on essential goods from skyrocketing. Still, orange juice futures are sky high.
“Our biggest concern is Florida citrus,” Joel Widenor of Commodity Weather Group LLC said. “There is big enough fruit on the trees that the fruit could drop off, it could literally get blown off. The bigger issue is tree damage that is a lot harder to recover from.”
So far, air travel has only been affected in the Caribbean, where hundreds of tourists are preparing to board evacuation flights to nearby safe havens.
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“It is not the strongest, but it is in the upper pantheon,” said Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University. “If you have an evacuation drill, now is the time to practice it.”
The last time the U.S. experienced two storms of category-3 magnitude or higher in a single hurricane season was back in 1964. Irma’s latest numbers prove it is one of the strongest storms to ever cross the Atlantic since records began.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…