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Hurricanes are slowing, which could be a big problem

08 June 2018

"Not quite like a cork in a stream, but similar", he said.

He said beyond the changes in regularity and intensity of cyclones, their very "behaviour" was being affected by climate change. New research shows it could also cause them to move from point A to point B more slowly, which might make them even more unsafe.

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

Dr Kossin said more rain was also falling during cyclones, and there was evidence that tropical cyclones were migrating more towards the poles. Storm speeds across land, for instance, slowed by 20% in eastern North America, 30% in eastern Asia, and 19% in Australia, the researcher reports today in Nature.

"If the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, then things are going to tend to rain more", Kossin said.

Experts believe that continued global warming will increase the severity of tropical storms, but they also believe this anthropogenic warming will increase rainfall. "The storms will stay in your neighborhoods longer".

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In an editorial accompanying Kossin's work, she points out that it raises several new questions. "I'm finding something that might be considered consistent [with climate change], but, really, no idea what's contributing what to this signal".

That means that storms farther from land in the earlier part of the study may not have had their speeds included in the study.

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

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

Overall, while scientists will need to dissect and better understand the new findings, it's hard to mistake the implication that intense, torrential rainfall associated with hurricanes could be getting worse when they make landfall because the storms are, basically, dragging out the punishment that they deliver to the places where they strike. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Hurricanes are slowing, which could be a big problem