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Unhurried hurricanes: Study says tropical cyclones slowing worldwide

09 June 2018, 12:42 | Kevin Scott

Hurricanes Are Slowing Down and Leaving More Damage When They Hit Land

Hurricanes Are Lingering Longer. That Makes Them More Dangerous.

A fast storm can distribute its water across a wider surface area, decreasing the chance of extreme flooding.

According to NOAA, inland flooding accounts for more than 50% of hurricane-related deaths each year.

The western North Pacific basin, where the strongest systems are referred to as typhoons and super typhoons, sees the most storms annually and has seen the most slowing, at 20%.

Study author James Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Harvey is a great example of what he found.

Kossin published his findings Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"Tropical cyclones are just carried along by the wind, so it makes sense", Kossin says.

"Nothing good can come of a slower storm", Kossin told Mashable.

The impacts of slower-moving storms are devastating.

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In a warming world where atmospheric circulations are expected to change, the atmospheric circulation that drives tropical cyclone movement is expected to weaken.

"These trends are nearly certainly increasing local rainfall totals and freshwater flooding", Kossin said, "which is associated with very high mortality risk".

"Kossin is right that a 10 percent change in tropical cyclone motion would be an important change due to its effect on accumulated precipitation", Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said in an email.

Climate change increased both the intensity of the rainfall and the likelihood that the storm would occur.

For instance, it is expected that hurricanes will rain about 7 to 10 percent more per degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming, as the atmosphere retains more water vapor, Kossin explained.

Harvey was the second costliest storm on record, behind Hurricane Katrina, totaling $125 billion in damage - of which about two-thirds were uninsured flood losses. Instead, it means the tracks of the storms have slowed, allowing them to hover in one location for longer periods of time.

But Kossin can't say whether Harvey's rains are a model for the future.

But Kossin chose to investigate it, based on the expectation that climate change is already altering the general, large-scale circulation of the atmosphere, within which hurricanes are embedded and by which they are steered.



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