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The new normal: Hurricane Florence reminds us yet again that climate change is real

Despite a magical spell that Pat Robertson cast to protect the east coast from Hurricane Florence, it’s set to batter the East Coast of the United States late Thursday night or early Friday morning. And to add insult to injury, the storm won’t move much once it makes landfall, and even if it does, rain that falls east of the Appalachian Mountains has just one way to go- back to the East Coast.

The storm will move so slowly, due to areas of high pressure to the west, north, and east of it, that you’ll be able to walk faster than the storm itself. But like, you know, don’t test that hypothesis, because it’s a goddamn hurricane.

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But this storm is just another reminder to us that climate change is real, as it appears to be our new normal.

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Last year was the costliest hurricane season in US history. Between hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, the 2017 season caused over $250 billion in damages.

And it was one of the deadliest seasons too, resulting in well over 3300 deaths, with approximately 3000 of that resulting from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico alone.

And this isn’t just an anecdotal account or a reaction to the increased news coverage of hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released a study that found evidence of this. According to the NOAA study:

A review of existing studies, including the ones cited above, lead us to conclude that: it is likely that greenhouse warming will cause hurricanes in the coming century to be more intense globally and have higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes.

… the hurricane model also projects that the lifetime maximum intensity of Atlantic hurricanes will increase by about 5% during the 21st century in general agreement with previous studies.

The NOAA study also said:

We also conclude that it is likely that climate warming will cause Atlantic hurricanes in the coming century have higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes, and medium confidence that they will be more intense (higher peak winds and lower central pressures) on average. In our view, it is uncertain how the annual number of Atlantic tropical storms will change over the 21st century.

… Based on our published results and as well as those of other modeling groups, we conclude that at the global scale:  a future increase in tropical cyclone precipitation rates is likely; an increase in tropical cyclone intensity is likely; an increase in very intense (category 4 and 5) tropical cyclones is more likely than not; and there is medium confidence in a decrease in the frequency of weaker tropical cyclones.  Existing studies suggest a tropical cyclone windspeed increase of about 1-10% and a tropical cyclone precipitation rate increase of about 10-15% for a moderate (2 degree Celsius) global warming scenario.

More storms, stronger storms, leading to more rain, more destruction, and more deaths.

And with an administration who denies the very existence of climate change, and refuses to accept the results of multiple scientific studies regarding the devastation of hurricanes, things appear to be going from bad to worse.

 

 

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.

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