Hurricanes are Becoming More Dangerous, Here's Why
As a Floridian, I have been through my fair share of hurricanes. This is my 16th hurricane season and I have steadily seen the frequency and intensity of these catastrophic storms increase. As we near the peak of hurricane season, let's take a look at how climate change dramatically affects these storms and what's in store for this hurricane season.
The ocean absorbs about 93% of the heat generated by global warming. As a result, the water temperature increases. Warm ocean surface temperatures are fuel for hurricanes. Greater ocean temperatures mean that there is more energy available to strengthen the hurricane. Warmer air can also hold more water vapor, resulting in wetter storms with more rain, which then leads to increased flooding. Ice melt and sea level rise, another climate issue, increases the threat of storm surge.
Not only are the hurricanes becoming stronger, but they are also moving slower and staying over areas for longer. Research shows that hurricane speed has decreased by 10% since 1949. When the hurricanes move slower, they are more likely to cause more damage. Hurricane Dorian in 2019, for example, stayed over the Bahamas for 48 hours, sometimes moving at a speed of just one mile per hour. It completely devastated the area, resulting in the deaths of over 74 people, causing many people to be displaced, and creating a cost of up to $3 billion in damages.
This hurricane season is predicted to be a particularly active one. NOAA predicts that there will be 19-25 named storms (those with winds of at least 39 mph), 7-11 hurricanes, and 3-6 major hurricanes (categories 3, 4, and 5).
So the next time that you or someone that you know is hunkered down trying to get through a hurricane, think about what you can do to decrease your impact on climate change.
For more information about how you can lessen your contribution to climate change and to stay up to date with posts, follow @climatekira on Instagram.