The US should prepare for an even worse hurricane season in 2018

The US should prepare for an even worse hurricane season in 2018

New research into predicting the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season suggests this year’s hurricanes may be even worse than they were in 2017.

2017 brought the devastating hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria which had winds of 185 mph and caused a total of $265 billion between them. All three storms ranked in the five most destructive hurricanes on record.

North Carolina State University and Colorado State University have found that this hurricane season, which begins in June, is expected to create 18 named storms. The forecast also shows hurricanes are intensifying more rapidly now than they were 30 years ago.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that large hurricanes are speeding up 13mph faster than they were 30 years ago. A major hurricane is defined by a sharp increase in speed of at least 28mph over a 24 hour period.

The research indicates that this change is due to a shift in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Although the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is a natural variation in climate, experts have warned that this in combination with warming oceans and warming atmospheric conditions will create stronger and more frequent hurricanes.

In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey the Gulf of Mexico’s waters were warmer than ever recorded.

Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist commented:

“The implication is that the warmer oceans increased the risk of greater hurricane intensity and duration…as climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey.

“While we often think of hurricanes as atmospheric phenomena, it’s clear that the oceans play a critical role and will shape future storms as the climate changes.”

The increasing severity of hurricanes aligns with global trends of worsening natural disasters.

The hurricanes also caused hundreds of deaths, largely across the Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico, destroyed thousands of homes and cut power across large areas for a prolonged period of time.

In March, 6 months after the hurricanes, 11% of Puerto Rico was still without power. Across the US and the Caribbean many people are still recovering from the hurricanes as 2018’s season approaches.

Experts are warning people to begin preparations for the approaching hurricane seasons and are urging a shift in policy towards long term mitigation.

 

Our Annual AIDF Global Summit returns for its 10th year on 5-6 September 2018 in Washington D.C., United States, where disaster recovery and resilience will be a key discussion point.

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