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Climate climate Man-Made

Tremendously big and tremendously wet; hurricane season evolving

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by: Sharai Hoekema
tremendously big and tremendously wet  hurricane season evolving

They haven’t seen anything like what’s coming at us in 25, 30 years, maybe ever. It’s tremendously big and tremendously wet.” As hurricane Florence barrelled its way towards the East Coast of the United States last week, many meteorologists looked on with equal parts trepidation and amazement. There was even talk of this storm turning into a category 5 hurricane upon landfall, which is the highest category that could be awarded to this kind of natural disaster. The awkward words of President Trump above did very little to calm the nerves of his anxious fellow citizens; nor did the large-scale evacuations that were hastily executed.

INCREASING DAMAGES

Eventually the storm literally blew over, dissipating on September 19 and leaving behind a trail of casualties and extensive damage in its wake. And although it was not quite the ‘greatest thing to come their way - ever’, it was a pretty bad storm. And, judging by the Atlantic hurricane season of last year, the worst might be yet to come. 

2017 has gone down in history books as the costliest hurricane season on record, mostly due to the notorious trinity Harvey, Irma and Maria. All together, the total damage was estimated at close to 300 billion USD. Looking at this, we’d better brace ourselves for Florence’s successors.

‘STORMS ARE BECOMING MORE POWERFUL’

The funny thing is that, even though Trump was mostly ridiculed for his statement above, it is actually hitting the nail on the head. The occurrence of so many intense hurricanes over the last few years can hardly be considered a coincidence. Now that global warming is hurrying along, racing towards the point of no return, natural phenomena such as hurricane are bound to intensify as well. Both in strength - and in wetness.

Storms will become stronger due to the difference in temperature between the warming ocean water and the upper atmosphere, that does not heat up with the rest of the earth. It is exactly this difference that will make hurricanes more intense and powerful, increasing their speed limits to a point that the world has never seen before. Judging by the record wind speeds as set by Irma (at 185 mph) and Maria (175 mph), along with 2015’s Patricia (215 mph), this process already appears to have been set in motion.

‘STORMS ARE GETTING WETTER

While climate scientists are still not entirely sure on the how or what of hurricanes and big storms, more and more data is starting to flood in (no pun intended). Through the use of unmanned aircraft, increasingly sensitive weather satellites and storm sensors, the previously largely unpredictable behaviour of these stormy giants can better be charted and determined.

So, what else did it tell us? Well, mostly that we should invest in umbrellas (perhaps not in the wind, though) and a mightily good flood insurance, if we are living in coastal regions. As both air and water around us are heating up, a vicious circle is entered where potential hurricanes suck up the water’s heat, convert it to even more wind energy, and subsequently absorb even more heat. While the storm is growing, it also sucks up more moisture from the warm water. Hence, becoming ‘tremendously wet’, ‘with tremendous amounts of water’, as so elegantly articulated by the Commander in Chief.  

‘STORMS ARE CHANGING’

Aside from the increase in intensity and wetness, more worrying data has come to light. While the traditional hurricane season generally does not kick off until June, it is likely that in the not-too-distant future this threshold should be changed to mid-May, perhaps even before that. Signs are that storm season is getting longer. And while bringing bad news: the storms are expanding geographically as well. The physical range of hurricanes is growing, making it easier for them to reach places that were previously deemed ‘safe’. 

FEWER STORMS, HIGHER IMPACT?

If you are looking for a silver lining on this cloudy (and stormy) horizon, perhaps it will make you feel better to know that all of this does not mean that there will be a relentless stream of monster hurricanes. The number of storms is predicated to remain the same, if not decrease somewhat. So while they are becoming stronger and heavier, there might be fewer of them to deal with. This has to do with climate change also taking away some of the favourable conditions in which a storm initially develops - so, it will be harder for them to sprout. Although everyone knows it only takes one good one to cause mayhem.

Another plus (if it could be considered as such): the advanced technologies and available data will be able to predict well ahead of time when it might be a better idea to find higher ground. And if there’s one lesson to be learned from the rising death toll resulting from storms in recent years: it is better not to test Mother Nature’s force, as she seems to continuously be getting bigger and wetter - and not even Donald Trump will be able to grab a hold of her.

https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/general

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Tremendously big and tremendously wet; hurricane season evolving

“ They haven’t seen anything like what’s coming at us in 25, 30 years, maybe ever. It’s tremendously big and tremendously wet .” As hurricane Florence barrelled its way towards the East Coast of the United States last week, many meteorologists looked on with equal parts trepidation and amazement. There was even talk of this storm turning into a category 5 hurricane upon landfall, which is the highest category that could be awarded to this kind of natural disaster. The awkward words of President Trump above did very little to calm the nerves of his anxious fellow citizens; nor did the large-scale evacuations that were hastily executed. INCREASING  DAMAGES Eventually the storm literally blew over, dissipating on September 19 and leaving behind a trail of casualties and extensive damage in its wake. And although it was not quite the ‘greatest thing to come their way - ever’, it was a pretty bad storm. And, judging by the Atlantic hurricane season of last year, the worst might be yet to come.   2017 has gone down in history books as the costliest hurricane season on record, mostly due to the notorious trinity Harvey, Irma and Maria. All together, the total damage was estimated at close to 300 billion USD. Looking at this, we’d better brace ourselves for Florence’s successors. ‘STORMS ARE BECOMING MORE POWERFUL’ The funny thing is that, even though Trump was mostly ridiculed for his statement above, it is actually hitting the nail on the head. The occurrence of so many intense hurricanes over the last few years can hardly be considered a coincidence. Now that global warming is hurrying along, racing towards the point of no return, natural phenomena such as hurricane are bound to intensify as well. Both in strength - and in wetness. Storms will become stronger due to the difference in temperature between the warming ocean water and the upper atmosphere, that does not heat up with the rest of the earth. It is exactly this difference that will make hurricanes more intense and powerful, increasing their speed limits to a point that the world has never seen before. Judging by the record wind speeds as set by Irma (at 185 mph) and Maria (175 mph), along with 2015’s Patricia (215 mph), this process already appears to have been set in motion. ‘STORMS ARE GETTING WETTER ’ While climate scientists are still not entirely sure on the how or what of hurricanes and big storms, more and more data is starting to flood in (no pun intended). Through the use of unmanned aircraft, increasingly sensitive weather satellites and storm sensors, the previously largely unpredictable behaviour of these stormy giants can better be charted and determined. So, what else did it tell us? Well, mostly that we should invest in umbrellas (perhaps not in the wind, though) and a mightily good flood insurance, if we are living in coastal regions. As both air and water around us are heating up, a vicious circle is entered where potential hurricanes suck up the water’s heat, convert it to even more wind energy, and subsequently absorb even more heat. While the storm is growing, it also sucks up more moisture from the warm water. Hence, becoming ‘tremendously wet’, ‘with tremendous amounts of water’, as so elegantly articulated by the Commander in Chief.   ‘STORMS ARE CHANGING’ Aside from the increase in intensity and wetness, more worrying data has come to light. While the traditional hurricane season generally does not kick off until June, it is likely that in the not-too-distant future this threshold should be changed to mid-May, perhaps even before that. Signs are that storm season is getting longer. And while bringing bad news: the storms are expanding geographically as well. The physical range of hurricanes is growing, making it easier for them to reach places that were previously deemed ‘safe’.   FEWER STORMS , HIGHER IMPACT? If you are looking for a silver lining on this cloudy (and stormy) horizon, perhaps it will make you feel better to know that all of this does not mean that there will be a relentless stream of monster hurricanes. The number of storms is predicated to remain the same, if not decrease somewhat. So while they are becoming stronger and heavier, there might be fewer of them to deal with. This has to do with climate change also taking away some of the favourable conditions in which a storm initially develops - so, it will be harder for them to sprout. Although everyone knows it only takes one good one to cause mayhem. Another plus (if it could be considered as such): the advanced technologies and available data will be able to predict well ahead of time when it might be a better idea to find higher ground. And if there’s one lesson to be learned from the rising death toll resulting from storms in recent years: it is better not to test Mother Nature’s force, as she seems to continuously be getting bigger and wetter - and not even Donald Trump will be able to grab a hold of her. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/general