How Global Warming and Sea Level Rise Affect Future Hurricane Seasons

Recent years in the Atlantic have been more active than usual in terms of the number of powerful hurricanes making landfall, storm experts say.

News 6 chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells sat down with Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, to start the conversation on how climate change and the planet’s recent storm streak could impact future seasons. hurricanes.

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TS:

We are coming to seven consecutive seasons of above-average hurricane production by Earth’s atmosphere. Will we ever go back to normal?

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KG:

Take this into account. We had more (category) 4 and 5 landings in the United States from 2017 to 2021 than from 1963 to 2016.

TS:

Wow.

KG:

He’s been busy. He has been incredibly active. So if you look at it, we’ll end up having a season that will be average or maybe lower over time, but right now we’re just (in) an incredibly active time frame.

TS:

What do you think about when it comes to the climate change we are all experiencing?

KG:

90% of deaths in these tropical systems (come from) water. So what’s going to happen in the future with that, with a, a warmer climate? Well, one, your sea level will rise. So you know you talked about these hurricanes that produce storm surges you can see not only higher amounts of storm surge but further inland so further out in your rivers and more inland, associated with that, that storm surge. The other part is rainfall. It’s pure physics. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. So precipitation rates, we’re seeing an increase in some of those precipitation rates. You’re going to see heavy rain, not just on the coast, but well inland.

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TS:

So, in your opinion, it’s not necessarily an increase in wind speed, or stronger storms?

KG:

It’s not even…a factor in the number of storms. We name more, we see more, we have better tools, we have satellites, we have airplanes that, you know, see things that we would (not) have seen 20 or 30 years ago.


Other storm experts also contributed to the conversation.

“There are questions about… the storms are slowing down. This is, I think, still an open question. Obviously, if the storms were slowing down, that would tend to generally mean more precipitation (too) because the storm is moving slower over your particular region,” said meteorology researcher Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Ph.D. tropical and climatology. at Colorado State University. “While the Atlantic has hurricane numbers (which) have been increasing since 1990, globally they’ve actually gone down because the Pacific has gone down a lot. And the Pacific in general…generates a lot more storms in an average year.

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But Jamie Rome, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, argued that people often cling to numbers and arguments about the causes of the storm without focusing on its consequences. impact.

“If the globe gets warmer, and it does, it’s going to hold more moisture, right? It will hold up better. And then a hurricane will come and tear it all away. So that means it’s going to rain. It will rain harder in the next hurricanes. You don’t need me to tell you the sea level is rising either. You can see it, we can all see it,” Rome said. “We’re going inshore, the coastline is changing, the sea level is rising, which is a higher base or foundation on which future hurricanes will have to push storm surges. Thus, the storm surge will be deeper and go further inland. So whether the numbers increase or not, the storms that form are more powerful. »

John Cangialosi, senior hurricane specialist at the NHC, said hurricane impacts are worsening and cities along the coastline should prepare.

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“And a lot of cities are getting ready, you know, I’m from New York, they’re getting ready especially after Sandy, they’re building better levees. Houston does it, Miami does it. So, you know, there’s a lot going on in many major metropolitan areas that are vulnerable to this, which is great to see,” Cangialosi said.

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Teresa H. Sadler