Friday, October 07, 2022

Everything points to another busy hurricane season: Experts

Knock down the hatch to weather another terrifying storm.

Nearly every natural force and a slew of human-caused ones—more than just climate change—have turned the past several Atlantic hurricane seasons into deadly and costly whoppers. The season starting Wednesday looks like another record-breaking note as all those ingredients for disaster are still going strong, experts have warned.

They say these factors indicate, but do not promise, more trouble ahead: natural climate event La Nia, human-caused climate change, warm ocean waters, the Gulf of Mexico’s deep warm loop current, increased in Africa This resulted in stormy, clear skies, a multi-decade active hurricane cycle and large-scale development of the property along the coast.

“It’s all that and the kitchen sink,” said hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.

Home security footage captured Hurricane Ida’s strong winds and storm hours at a home in Port Fourchon, LA.

For the past two years, forecasters no longer have names of storms. It has been a costly rogue gallery of major storms – with winds of at least 111 mph (179 kph) – striking land over the past five years: Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, Michael, Dorian, Humberto, Laura, Teddy, Delta, Zeta, Eta, Iota, Grace and Ida.

“That’s the pattern in which we’ve been locked in. And what a statistic to think about: From 2017 to 2021, more category four and five (hurricanes) made US landfall than from 1963 to 2016,” National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham, said in an Associated Press interview in front of two hurricane-hunters. Aircraft flying in the storm.

Graham, echoing most experts and every pre-season forecast, said “we’ve got another busy one” coming. Last year, the Atlantic set a record for six above average hurricane seasons in a row, breaking the old record of three in a row, and forecasters predict a seventh.

The only contrarian indication is that for the first time since 2014, a hurricane did not occur before the official June 1 start of the hurricane season, but forecasts are looking at the record-setting Hurricane Agatha of the Eastern Pacific that is likely to cross land. And improving as Alex in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.

Here’s what could be making the Atlantic chaotic this season:

la nina

One of the biggest impacts on the Atlantic hurricane season occurs half a world away in the temporarily cold waters of the equatorial Pacific, a natural cyclical phenomenon called La Nia, more dangerous for the United States than an El Nio.

La Nia changes the weather around the world, with a higher chance of hurricane development in the Atlantic. It begins in the Sahel region of Africa, where the seeds of the strongest mid-season storms called Cape Verde hurricanes form. That dry area is often wet and stormy in La Nia and helps it form early.

One weather feature that can destroy storms or prevent them from forming in the first place is high cross winds called shear. But La Nia substantially reduces shear, which is “a big factor” for greater storm activity, said University of Albany hurricane researcher Kristen Corbosiero.

Climate change

Studies show that climate change is making hurricanes wetter, as warmer air can hold more moisture, and is making the strongest storms slightly stronger. Hurricanes can also be more frequent, allowing them to rain more in the same spot, as in 2017’s Harvey, where more than 50 inches (127 cm) fell in one spot. Experts say that they are also growing rapidly.

While studies point to an increasing number of strongest storms due to human-caused climate change, scientists still disagree about what global warming means for the overall frequency of all storms. Some scientists see a slight decrease due to less weak storms, but others, such as MIT hurricane researcher Kerry Emanuel, see an overall increase in the total number of storms.

A study by Emanuel showed a general increase in Atlantic hurricanes over 150 years, with few exceptions. This increase is too large to be directly linked to climate change, Emanuel said, “but it could be indirectly related to climate change” especially if global warming is altering the speed of ocean circulation as suspected.

hot water

The hot water serves as the fuel for the storm. Hurricanes cannot form until the water reaches 79 °C (26 °C) and the deeper the warmer water, and the higher its temperature, the more it has to feed the storm.

And because of climate change and natural weather variables, waters in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are warming and inviting for storms, said Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. In the major storm formation zone, the water is about half a degree warmer (0.3 °C) than last year, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane seasonal forecaster Matthew Rosenkrans.

loop current

A common phenomenon in the Gulf of Mexico is called a loop current, where warm water flows very deeply. This is important because storms typically bring cooler deep water over warmer waters, and this limits their strength. But the Loop Current often charges storms and it carries warm deep water currents across the Gulf for hurricane intensity.

This year the loop current looks particularly strong, northward and worrying, Emanuel and other experts said. He compared it to the loop current that accelerated Camille in 1969, Katrina in 2005 and Ida last year.

McNoldy said Monday the loop current was 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal.

clean Air

Scientists say that traditional air pollution from factories and cars – haze and tiny particulate dirt air – reflects sunlight and cools the atmosphere. That cooling effect of air pollution probably helped reduce the number of storms in the 1970s and 1980s, a calm period in the Atlantic.

But as Europe and the United States have cleaned up most of their air pollution, the Atlantic has turned stormier during hurricane season, while the exact opposite is happening in Asia where air pollution is on the rise, a new study says. Is. Experts said the reduction in air pollution and the potential for an increase in Atlantic storms is now a permanent situation.

long cycle

Hurricane researchers have observed one or more periods of hurricane activity followed by a busy Atlantic hurricane season of about 20 to 30 years, with 20 to 30 years of low activity. The current busy cycle began in 1995 and should theoretically end soon, but scientists are yet to see any signs of this happening.

The theory behind the cycle deals with ocean currents, salinity and other natural cycles on a global scale. But recently some scientists have begun to doubt how big of a factor, if any, the cycle may have been and whether it was really air pollution and now climate change is changing the cycle.


On top of all those weather factors is the problem of humans. During the lull of storms in the 1970s and 1980s, air conditioning became more prevalent in the South and storms were in the back of mind, said Jim Kosin, a former NOAA hurricane scientist, so more people moved to hurricane-prone areas and built Happened. of risk firm The Climate Service.

But the storm returned as pollution disappeared and as climate change worsened. Add to La Nias, insurance that makes it easier to rebuild in dangerous areas, “and now we’re paying Piper “by putting more and more severe storms and more people and buildings at risk,” Kosin said.

For at least the next five years, Kosin said, “we need to gear up.”

, . Follow up on Associated Press’s climate coverage


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage is supported by a number of private foundations. See more about Associated Press’s climate initiative here. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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