One of the deadliest and costliest hurricane seasons ends Wednesday. But instead of breathing easy, experts are warning about the future. Next year could be just as bad – or worse, they say. And the hits could keep coming for several more years.
The prospect of future record-setting hurricane seasons has raised questions about the country's level of preparedness and about who should foot the bill for continually rebuilding vulnerable coastal areas.
"The real question is not if, but who pays," said Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado. "Do we want to subsidize living on the coasts? Do we want the federal government to be responsible for disaster costs? Private insurance? Individuals? These are the hard questions."
Hurricane Katrina brought many of these issues to the fore, laying bare weaknesses in emergency management and preparedness systems.
And the season isn't over yet. Here's TS Epsilon. Not much of a threat, but it's the first December tropical storm that I can remember.
Here are some surprising and frightening facts from Skeetobite Weather.
There were 26 named storms in 2005.
A total of 7 Major (category 3 or higher) storms occurred in 2005. See list at right.
Vince 2005 was the first tropical cyclone in recorded history to make landfall in Spain.
Wilma 2005 marks the first time since record keeping began that 3 Category 5 hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin in a single season.
Someone else, on some other coast will eventually fall victim to what happened in New Orleans. Will FEMA and the rest of the government respond any better?