Sci-tech

Forecasters say hurricane to form off Mexico's Pacific coast

Forecasters say hurricane to form off Mexico's Pacific coast

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

Slower-moving storms mean greater rainfall totals, as seen with Hurricane Harvey in Texas a year ago.

"I went in with that hypothesis and looked at the data, and out popped the signal that was much bigger than anything I was expecting", Kossin said. With polar regions warming faster than other parts of the globe, that is altering pressure gradients, reducing the winds that push these storms.

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But Kossin can't say whether Harvey's rains are a model for the future.

"Every one of the hazards that we know tropical cyclones carry with them, all of them are just going to stick around longer", Kossin said.

This means the more time they spend above land, the more devastation they can wreak with rainfall and storm-induced damages.

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He said Hurricane Harvey in Texas previous year was a dramatic example of the consequences of a slow-moving or "stalled" tropical cyclone. Some places in Houston got roughly a foot of rain per day as the storm crawled ashore. "These are not good things to be combining", he says.

The research, published today in the journal Nature, measured cyclones from 1949 to 2016 and found that the speed at which they move has slowed by 10 percent.

"Roughly 7 percent more water vapor per degree C of warming", Kossin said. Rainfall, on average, increased 24 percent. "That has serious implications for inland flooding and urban infrastructure". And there are limits to each approach. The fact that their results show quite similar trends should be a wake-up call. "And when you start getting more and more lines of evidence that all point in the same direction, you get more confident in the answers".

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