Droughts, floods, fires, hurricanes, locusts, (actually cicadas)… this is yet another year of record-breaking extremes.
In fact, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a 60% chance of an above-normal hurricane season this year.
So, why is it that each year hurricanes, flooding, and other weather extremes seem to be getting worse? Scientists attribute these record-breaking changes to climate change.
How Climate Change Impacts Hurricane Season
Scientists at NOAA believe that one of the biggest factors in the increasing intensity of tropical cyclones (TC) is climate change.
A recent NOAA report on increased hurricane activity states:
“Warming of the surface ocean from anthropogenic climate change is likely fueling more powerful TCs. The destructive power of individual TCs through flooding is amplified by rising sea level, which very likely has a substantial contribution at the global scale from anthropogenic climate change. In addition, TC precipitation rates are projected to increase due to enhanced atmospheric moisture associated with anthropogenic global warming.”
Not only does this lead to more named storms, but it’s also leading to more dangerous storms. That’s because warming sea temperatures allow for hurricanes to strengthen much more quickly than we’ve been used to in the past, leading to more category 4 and 5 storms.
This also leads to longer-lasting effects once the storm passes, like flooding. Climate Central explains:
“Climate change can also lead to worse flooding with hurricanes. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, increasing the amount of rainfall during a tropical storm. Sea level rise also contributes to higher and more dangerous coastal storm surges.”
Unfortunately, this means it’s more likely that we’ll continue to see record-breaking seasons with each coming year. In fact, there are even talks about moving the official start date of hurricane season up from June 1 to May 15. As climate change continues to lead to warmer ocean temperatures, we can expect to see these weather anomalies become the norm with each passing year.
However, there is hope. If we all commit to working together, we can help reduce the impact of climate change. Small actions can lead to big results and every little bit helps. Try to think about your own carbon footprint and come up with small, easy changes you can do to live more sustainably to help do your part. If we all work together, we might be able to prevent climate change from getting worse and leading to even more extreme hurricane seasons in the future.
We’ll continue to monitor weather changes across the country to help you stay informed and post new updates when they become available.