Weather experts are warning that global warming is the likely cause behind hurricanes having more power year-over-year. They say that global warming is the reason hurricanes may become 13 percent stronger, 17 percent slower and have 34 percent more rain than they did 30 years ago.
According to the University of Atmospheric Research, since 2015, hurricanes have been more constant and of greater intensity. They say that forecasts in the coming years is less encouraging as hurricanes will become more powerful and slower moving with the capacity to generate more rainfall than they do now.
They explain that this is due to the fact that heat is the main energy generator of tropical cyclones, since these systems form with a temperature of at least 26 degrees Celsius on the sea surface. Global warming, which has caused temperatures of up to 50 degrees, is the main factor creating hurricane intensity.
With a warmer atmosphere, hurricane activity could be 13 percent stronger, move 17 percent slower and have 34 percent more rain, they warned.
Rafael Mendez-Tejeda of OMICS International says that to date, a Category 5 is the strongest when talking about hurricanes. With this you can have winds over 251 kilometers per hour, so a higher category is not difficult to imagine.
“There is no superior category and I would not like to see that scenario,” he said.
According to studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hurricanes now intensify more quickly and are doing it with more strength and speed that 30 years ago.
Gregory Foltz , NOAA scientist, reports there are many factors at play, but the main driver is a natural phenomenon that affects the temperature in the Atlantic, where the most catastrophic hurricanes occur.
“The intensification is getting faster because the waters in the North Atlantic are warmer and the heat of the oceans is an important factor that feeds the hurricanes,” he said.
Mexico’s National Water Commission says they forecast 32 systems during the 2018 season. They say they are anticipating 14 in the Atlantic and 18 in the Pacific, four more than the historical average with four to six directly affecting the country.
While the Colorado State University predicts a near-average Atlantic hurricane season of 14 named storms (including Alberto) and 6 hurricanes, 2 of which will be intense, the forecast by British firm Tropical Storm Risk calls for only 9 named storms and 4 hurricanes, 1 of which will be intense.
On the other hand, the NOAA is predicting an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season with a 70 percent likelihood of 16 named storms, 5 to 9 hurricanes, and 1 to 4 major hurricanes of a Category 3 or higher.
Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground says that there is a bigger-than-usual spread in the prognoses for 2018, adding that there is more disagreement than usual among the various outlooks issued since April as to how busy a hurricane season the Atlantic will see.
One source of uncertainty is El Niño, he says, which may or may not emerge later this year. In general, El Niño tends to suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic. However, even if we do see an El Niño event, there are already signs that it may be a “Modoki El Niño”, the type where equatorial warming of the sea surface is focused more toward the central Pacific than the eastern Pacific.
Modoki El Niño events are considered less likely to suppress Atlantic hurricanes.