Hurricanes May Be Getting Slower, Making Them Even More Destructive

Hurricanes May Be Getting Slower, Making Them Even More Destructive

For Atlantic hurricanes, the slowdown was 6%.

The slower a cyclone moves over the ocean, the more moisture and intensity it gathers; the slower it moves over the land, the more time it spends drenching it.

In particular, a slowing of circulation as the polar regions warm up faster than equator ought to slow down storm tracks, as well. Local tropical cyclone rainfall totals would be expected to increase by the same percentage due to the slowing alone.

Study author James Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Harvey is a great example of what he found.

Kossin admits that there are probably both natural and manmade factors influencing the slowing of storms and recommends further studies using climate models to determine how much greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for affecting the storms' speeds.

That's the real risk of a slower storm.

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Dr Kossin came to his conclusion by studying the tropical cyclone record, which spans from 1949-2016. Indeed, after around 1980, we could observe them by geostationary satellite - before that, storms in the open ocean might have been missed completely and gone unrecorded, at least if they never encountered any vessel.

Scientists expect climate change is going to make tropical cyclones - including hurricanes - more severe.

But contrary to what you might think that means, the finding is actually a bad thing.

'These trends are nearly certainly increasing local rainfall totals and freshwater flooding, which is associated with very high mortality risk'.

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