Hurricanes Are Moving Slower-And That's a Huge Problem

09 June, 2018, 20:55 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Hurricanes Are Lingering Longer. That Makes Them More Dangerous.

Tropical cyclones have generally slowed more in the Northern Hemisphere where they are also known as hurricanes and typhoons and where more of these storms typically occur each year.

In particular, a slowing of circulation as the polar regions warm up faster than equator ought to slow down storm tracks, as well. For instance, if exceptionally slow-moving storms have grown more likely in recent years, does that mean "stalled" storms like Harvey-which seemed to get stuck in place for days-are increasing, too?

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey's torrential rains, which dumped several feet of water on sections of Houston, Texas, last August, scientists showed that warmer sea and air temperatures pumped more moisture into the storm-which then fell as rain.

In the Atlantic Ocean basin, the slowdown was not dramatic, just 6 percent.

The effect has been more profound north of the equator, with the western North Pacific Ocean one of the most hard hit regions. A slow storm increases the risk of damaging floods.

Harvey dumped 60.58 inches of rain in Nederland, Texas, from August 24 to September 1.

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In a warming world where atmospheric circulations are expected to change, the atmospheric circulation that drives tropical cyclone movement is expected to weaken.

"Tropical cyclones are just carried along by the wind, so it makes sense", Kossin says.

"These trends are nearly certainly increasing local rainfall totals and freshwater flooding", Kossin said, "which is associated with very high mortality risk". However, scientists have struggled to isolate the impacts of climate change on the characteristics of extreme weather events.

With wind speeds that can top more than 180 miles per hour, hurricanes are not usually thought of as slow.

"What we're seeing nearly certainly reflects both natural and human-caused changes", Kossin said.

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