Hurricanes are traveling more slowly - which makes them even more dangerous

08 June, 2018, 21:06 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Hurricanes are traveling more slowly - which makes them even more dangerous

By plugging storm data into computer models representing a future with temperatures that are up to five degrees warmer, they found that these cyclones moved 9 percent slower and were far, far wetter.

NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) scientist Dr. Jim Kossin, author of the study, found a 20 percent slowdown in a storm's forward velocity over land for Atlantic storms, a 30 percent slowdown over land for western North Pacific storms and a 19 percent slowdown over land for storms affecting the Australian region. Instead, it means the tracks of the storms have slowed, allowing them to hover in one location for longer periods of time.

The study is in Wednesday's journal Nature.

Slower-moving storms mean greater rainfall totals, as seen with Hurricane Harvey in Texas a year ago.

Hurricane Harvey, which progressed at a walking pace over eastern Texas after making landfall in late August, dumped rain in amounts that were a record from a tropical system in the United States: more than 60 inches.

This analysis stopped at the end of 2016 and did not include any storms that formed in 2017, so Harvey was not factored in to the study.

These two trends ought to work in tandem to make today's storms much worse rainmakers.

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Unhurried hurricanes also mean strong winds blowing more often over the same place and possibly more storm surge, Kossin said.

"What we're seeing nearly certainly reflects both natural and human-caused changes", Kossin said. It is based exclusively on past observations, he said.

Kossin argues that the slow-down is caused by global warming, which is both increasing rainfall and decreasing wind currents.

Outside scientists were skeptical.

Dr Kossin said more rain was also falling during cyclones, and there was evidence that tropical cyclones were migrating more towards the poles.

"If the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, then things are going to tend to rain more", Kossin said.

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