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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.”
Yesterday was the first day of Atlantic hurricane season and NOAA’s outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season. This has left coastal states scrambling to adjust their emergency response plans in the face of COVID-19, namely where to house evacuees. The Associated Press surveyed more than 70 counties and states from Texas to […]
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes and 3 to 6 become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. The forecast is due to cooler ocean conditions in the Pacific and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Why This Matters: It could be a disastrous summer. The new climate normal on top of the COVID-19 pandemic will make things challenging everywhere.
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