Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

East Pacific's 1st named storm stronger, no threat to land

East Pacific's 1st named storm stronger, no threat to land

Yet tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, have grown more sluggish since the mid-20th century, researchers say.

"Storms should be responding to changes in the whole global wind pattern, since they are mostly just carried along in the flow", Kossin said.

Their forward speed has decreased globally by about 10 percent since 1949, the study said, making these storms more likely to drop heavier rain as they spend longer amounts of time over the affected areas, increasing the risk of flooding.

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

For Atlantic hurricanes, the slowdown was 6%.

The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature.

"It is plausible to say that the local rainfall impacts, the impacts from slowing, are equal to and possibly greater than the impacts from increased water vapor in the atmosphere", he said.

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Kossin's work was based on details of nearly 70 years' worth of storms, but he made no attempt to determine what was causing the slowdown.

Harvey stalled out over Texas last August, dropping Biblical rainfall that caused catastrophic flooding in the Houston area.

"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.

Kossin's research discovered the slowdown in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres and in every ocean basin except the North Indian Ocean.

Scientists expect climate change is going to make tropical cyclones - including hurricanes - more severe.

Recent research also found that "blocking" of the jet stream can lead to extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods. Wind speeds within the storm remain high, but the whole system itself moves slower across the landscape, allowing punishing rains to linger longer over communities.

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