Keep an eye on Hurricane Maria as it aims for East Coast next week


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If this hurricane season seems worse, it’s because it is worse. Absolutely, by lots of measures, this year is worse than we’ve seen in some time.

As far as the number of days with a Category 4 or a Category 5 hurricane, this looks like it’s already the record since the dawn of satellite measurements in the 1970s.

We’ve seen three very severe hurricanes that already affected the United States directly, with two of them hitting Puerto Rico.

Over the past 12 years, there’s been a lack of hurricane activity — Sandy, of course, was only a Category 1 when it hit the Jersey Shore in 2012.

To find a hurricane like the three so far in 2017, you’d have to go back more than a decade to Hurricane Katrina.

But we live in a changed world. The powerful storms don’t translate into more deaths. Look back to 1900 in Galveston, Tex. The city was wiped out by a hurricane, and 12,000 people died.

Now, if Harvey hit the Texas coast without any notice today, you’re probably looking at 100,000 people dead or more. Irma, too — with no notice, if it just swept in on Florida, tens of thousands of people would have died.

Yet each caused fewer than 100 deaths. That’s a tribute to the tremendous progress made in weather forecasting.

So what’s ahead?

First of all, Maria’s still out there. This weekend, it’s probably going to intensify again — but it’s not going into the Gulf of Mexico. There’s no threat there.

Texas doesn’t have to worry.

But we know Maria will come up along the East Coast next week. From Tuesday to Friday, it’s conceivable there could be a threat from the Carolinas north.