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09 June 2018, 08:53 | Ross Houston
Hurricanes Are Slowing Down and Leaving More Damage When They Hit Land
Dr Christina Patricola, from the Climate and Ecosystems Sciences Division at University California, Davis, says the findings raise several questions, especially regarding "stalled" tropical cyclones. New researchshows it could also cause them to move from point A to point B more slowly, which might make them even more unsafe.
He said Hurricane Harvey in Texas past year was a dramatic example of the consequences of a slow-moving or "stalled" tropical cyclone. Kossin works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information. It isn't clear whether climate change is to blame, but ultimately, the storm's sluggish speed is part of a bigger pattern: Tropical cyclones around the world-including hurricanes and tropical depressions-have slowed by 10% over the past 70 years, according to a new study.
He and other scientists still don't know exactly why it's happening. A fast storm can distribute its water across a wider surface area, decreasing the chance of extreme flooding. "And that has effects on circulation - typically slows it down".
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. Older data on location, and thus movement, are more reliable, Kossin said.
Although more rainfall is the most direct outcome of slower-moving storms, other impacts can be enhanced as well.
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"Tropical cyclones are just carried along by the wind, so it makes sense", Kossin says.
"Inland flooding, freshwater flooding, is taking over as the key mortality risk now associated with these storms", Kossin said. "Hurricane Harvey a year ago was a great example of what a slow storm can do". Some places in Houston got roughly a foot of rain per day as the storm crawled ashore.
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.
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