Hurricanes are slowing down, wreaking havoc on coastal communities

Hurricanes are slowing down, wreaking havoc on coastal communities

Hurricanes and tropical storms, known as tropical cyclones, are moving slower around the planet, according to a new study from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist James Kossin.

With polar regions warming faster than other parts of the globe, that is altering pressure gradients, reducing the winds that push these storms. Storms worldwide in 2016 moved about 1.25 miles per hour (2 kph) slower than 60 some years ago.

Slower-moving storms mean greater rainfall totals, as seen with Hurricane Harvey in Texas previous year.

In the western north Pacific, the slowdown's been 30 percent; in the "Australian" region it's 19 percent. But when Atlantic storms hit land - like Harvey - the study said the slowdown is a significant 20 percent.

First, he noted that over the more than 60-year period of the study, there may be natural, decades-long cycles in the climate system that could affect the steering of storms and have little or nothing to do with global warming.

The speed of tropical cyclones around the world has decreased globally by about 10 percent since 1949.

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"Every one of the hazards that we know tropical cyclones carry with them, all of them are just going to stick around longer", Kossin said.

Kossin would actually agree on that point. Some places in Houston got roughly a foot of rain per day as the storm crawled ashore.

"These trends are nearly certainly increasing local rainfall totals and freshwater flooding", Kossin said, "which is associated with very high mortality risk". The VIIRS image showed a better, more organized circulation center with consolidating banding of thunderstorms wrapping into a well-defined low level circulation center.

Kossin acknowledged problems with pre-1970s data but said that most of it deals with how strong storms are.

Severe storms will develop across the Plains into the Midwest today.

"We're both pushing the work forward and adding additional lines of evidence", Gutmann says.

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