Hurricanes are decreasing around the world, but the damage is increasing.

  • Why have hurricanes decreased? Give thanks to La Niña.
  • Although there may be fewer tropical cyclones, the damage they cause is increasing.
  • Rapidly intensifying storms appear to be on the increase.

According to a new study published this week. But at the same time, the damage they cause increases.

Why have hurricanes decreased? Give thanks to La Niña.

“We attribute this global downward trend to a shift to a more La Niña-like baseline state in the global tropical climate,” said the study’s lead author. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University says USA TODAY.

“While La Niña increases hurricane activity in the Atlantic, it tends to decrease activity in the Pacific,” he said. “Since the Pacific generates much more activity than the Atlantic climatologically, La Niña tends to reduce global storm activity.”

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The La Niña climate pattern is a natural cycle marked by cooler than average ocean waters in the central Pacific Ocean. It is one of the major weather factors in the United States and around the world, especially in late fall, winter, and early spring.

During a La Niña, the Atlantic hurricane season tends to be more active and the Pacific season is generally much calmer.

Although there may be fewer tropical cyclones (an umbrella term for hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones), the damage they cause is increasing, basically because we have more valuable things in our path. “We are seeing a significant increase in global damage from tropical cyclones, primarily due to population and wealth growth along the coastline,” Klotzbach said.

“The greatest increase in global damage has been in the Atlantic,” he said. “That’s a bit to be expected given that the Atlantic has the greatest financial exposure to hurricanes.”

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This would include the coastal areas of the United States.

“For example, while the Atlantic had only 11% of the world’s total Category 4-5 hurricanes during our study period (1990-2021), 62% of the world’s tropical cyclone damage occurs. are produced in the Atlantic,” he said.

How Climate Change Affects Hurricane Intensity

Other findings of the study included that rapidly intensifying storms appear to be on the increase.

Researchers found an increase in storms that intensified by 60 mph or more in 24 hours, likely due to warming sea surface temperatures. climate, Klotzbach said.

The number of severe hurricanes is also increasing, according to the study: “Although the trend is not statistically significant, we see an increasing trend in the percentage of hurricanes reaching category 4-5 intensity,” said Klotzbach. These are the most intense storms, with winds of at least 210 km / h, which can produce “catastrophic” damage, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“This shift towards potentially fewer storms but stronger storms is consistent with what climate models project with continued climate change,” Klotzbach said.

The study was published Monday in Geophysical Research Lettersa publication of the American Geophysical Union.

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