Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
New research shows that hurricanes are retaining more of their strength after hitting land than they have previously. Hurricanes were once expected to quickly weaken after landfall, but over the past 50 years, the time it takes for hurricanes to dissipate on land has almost doubled.
Researchers say that the increased endurance is caused by warming global temperatures and that the trend could prove disastrous for inland communities that once saw themselves safe from hurricanes.
Researchers point to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Zeta as prime examples of this trend.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hovered over Houston for days, dumping 127 billion tons of water on the city, one of the largest precipitation events in recorded history.
Hurricane Zeta, which made landfall hundreds of miles south of the Gulf Coast, was still producing 50 mph winds when it reached New Jersey a day later and left millions of people without power from Louisiana to North Carolina.
Pinaki Chakraborty, a professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology and a co-author of the study, predicts that cities like Atlanta, which previously only experienced the weaker remnants of hurricanes, could begin to experience their full force in the near future.
“Say, for example, I’m in Atlanta at about 380 km (~236 miles) inland. Fifty years ago, I would have experienced something like a tropical storm from a hurricane that made landfall as a Category 3,” he said. “But now, I would experience a Category 1 hurricane, so there’s been a tremendous increase in the kind of destruction that can travel inland.”
The Perfect Storm: In addition to allowing storms to move further inland, the sheer weight of storms’ water content is slowing them down. Hurricanes are taking longer to move through areas, giving them more time to cause flooding, damage infrastructure with high winds, and harm populations caught in the path. Researchers found that between 1949 and 2016, there was a 10% decrease in storm speed. Altogether, these trends increase the chance of inland flooding, which, according to NOAA, accounts for 25% of hurricane-related deaths each year.
Researchers especially worry that inland communities don’t have the resources to prepare for storms on this scale, but Chakraborty warns that no level of preparedness can be a substitute for climate action. “This slowdown in decay will continue unless there are really substantial measures taken to curb global warming,” He said. “These regions further inland that are not well-prepared for these storms — for good reason — may now have to get more prepared. But I don’t think we can really prepare our way out of this.”
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Rescue efforts are underway across several islands in eastern Indonesia and East Timor after Tropical Cyclone Seroja struck the region last week. The storm’s heavy rains and powerful winds led to flash flooding and landslides, damaging homes and roads. At least 8,424 people have been displaced by the storm, […]
We recently wrote that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a new pricing structure for its federal flood insurance program in an effort to improve the equitability of flood insurance. Disaster insurance and preparedness is a topic that is becoming an all too familiar topic as extreme weather events cause billions of dollars in […]
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has made a major upgrade to its Global Forecast System (GFS) that experts hope will equip the agency and weather services around the world to adapt to the challenges of climate change. The upgrade will greatly improve the forecasting of extreme weather events including hurricanes and high-altitude weather systems.
Why This Matters: Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and more intense each year. But NOAA’s GFS hasn’t managed to keep up.
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.