Hurricanes Are Slowing Down and Leaving More Damage When They Hit Land

Hurricanes Are Slowing Down and Leaving More Damage When They Hit Land

Forecasters say Hurricane Aletta is not a threat to land. A slow storm increases the risk of damaging floods.

Is Hurricane Harvey a preview?

Worldwide cyclones have become sluggish, slowing down 10 per cent over the past 70 years.

Climate change is tinkering with and slowing down atmospheric circulation patterns - the wind currents that move weather along, Kossin said.

And at the same time, a hotter atmosphere can hold more moisture.

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

When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston in 2016, many scientists pointed to the fact that the storm hovered over the area for four days, dropping record amounts of water.

Why are storms slowing down?

"A lot of the initial research has been focused largely on numbers of tropical cyclones and then of course on intensity because that's the way that we feel the impacts", Christina Patricola, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told the Los Angeles Times. "And that has effects on circulation - typically slows it down".

Dr Kossin said more rain was also falling during cyclones, and there was evidence that tropical cyclones were migrating more towards the poles.

But Kossin, in his paper, writes that he wouldn't expect big changes in his results due to different means of measurement, since "estimates of tropical-cyclone position should be comparatively insensitive to such changes".

"It is far from clear that global climate change has anything to do with the changes being identified", said Kevin Trenberth, a senior climate scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Still, the shift is precisely what he and other cyclone experts said would be expected from climate change. But the study did not look at causes by using computer models to simulate the Earth with and without warming. "We'll need more formal attribution studies to disentangle these factors".

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