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hurricanes are more intense (more category 5 storms) now that they have been in the past because they gather strength from warmer ocean waters;
hurricanes are more damaging because they are wetter with more rainfall also caused by the warming of oceans; and
the high winds are not the only threat — it is now storm surge as well, which is because of sea-level rise.
Why This Matters: We need to increase our preparedness in order to keep up with worsening hurricanes and severe storms — category five storms are no longer unusual freaks of nature. There have been five Category 5 storms in the last 3 years (Matthew, Irma, Maria, Michael and now Dorian). That means we need to increase the study of hurricanes and severe storms, more data and more modeling to try to get more precise in our forecasts. This week, in order to ensure public safety from these increased hurricane risks, we have had a large area of mandatory evacuations, and many businesses negatively impacted. We also need increased capacity to deal with the impacts — FEMA and the Coast Guard and other first-responding capacities must be expanded. We know this from our recent category five storms – but the Trump Administration is in denial about climate change.
Warm Ocean Water Increases Destructive Force
The Union of Concerned Scientists explains that “oceans have taken in nearly all of the excess energy created by global warming, absorbing 93 percent of the increase in the planet’s energy inventory from 1971-2010.”
“There is some evidence that there will be an increase in the frequency of the most intense storms, though there is more evidence of this finding for the eastern North Pacific than there is for the western North Pacific and Atlantic.”
Scientists also predict that there will be a “doubling or more in the frequency of category 4 and 5 storms by the end of the century—with the western North Atlantic experiencing the largest increase.”
In addition, “sea level is likely to rise by one to four feet globally by the end of the century, enabling the powerful surge associated with hurricanes to penetrate further inland than today.”
Mega-storms caused by atmospheric rivers were once thought to be once-in-a-millennia occurrences, but atmospheric rivers are flooding California more frequently due to the warming atmosphere. The latest mega-storm may put a dent in the mega-drought, but experts say California may be trapped in a vicious wet/dry cycle. It may not be time for Californians to build an ark just yet, but climate-resilient infrastructure would […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer After a record-breaking drought, much of the West and Southwest has been hoping for a winter of rain. But with scientists predicting a second consecutive winter with La Niña conditions, the dry spell may be prolonged. La Niña is a climate pattern that tends to produce droughts in the […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor As California’s summer fire season comes to a close, autumn’s Santa Ana winds have intensified a fast-moving wildfire now terrorizing Santa Barbara County. The Alisal fire began Monday afternoon. Since then, it has engulfed 16,801 acres and is only 5% contained, according to CalFire. As a result, a portion […]
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