Friday, May 16, 2014

Are Hurricanes Getting Stronger Further North?

An interesting NOAA study came out recently that indicates that in general, hurricanes and tropical storms are reaching their peak intensity further and further to the north as the decades pass.   
Hurricane Juan approaching Nova Scotia, Canada
in September, 2003. Scientist say they think
hurricanes are reaching peak intensity more and
more to the north in recent decades.  

This makes intutitive sense, since, as the oceans warm under the influence of global climate change, tropical storms and hurricanes would have more room to grow.

Hurricanes need warm water to thrive. Usually the water temperature needs to be near or above 80 degrees for them to thrive. If a hurricane hits land, or colder water, they weaken.

The study notes that this trend is not good, because cities to the north are not as well prepared for hurricanes as tropical communities.

And if hurricanes are going more to the north, their rain misses the tropics, where it is sometimes needed.

NASA says the trend toward more northern hurricanes isn't as noticeable in the Atlantic, off America's East Coast, as it is elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.

But over the past couple of decades, there has been a lot more hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. That's believed to be due mostly to natural cycles and not so much due to global climate change.

This year, an El Nino ocean pattern is developing in the eastern Pacific Ocean. That causes worldwide weather disruptions. But the good news is El Nino tends to reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, lessening the chance somebody on the East Coast will get pounded late this summer and fall.

Then again, it only takes one hurricane to cause chaos.

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