NASA defines hurricanes as large, swirling storms that produce winds of 119 kilometers per hour (74 mph) or higher. That’s faster than a cheetah, the fastest animal on land.
We are talking high winds that can damage buildings and trees. Hurricanes form over warm ocean waters—sometimes they strike land.
When a hurricane reaches land, it pushes a wall of ocean water ashore—this wall of water is called a storm surge. Heavy rain and storm surge from a hurricane can cause flooding.
Hurricane Harvey was the first Category 3 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005. This hurricane struck the Houston and Southeast Texas areas in August 2017.
Pummelling the area with more than 40 inches (1,000 mm) of rain in a four-day period—causing catastrophic flooding—with loss of property and life.
Hurricane Irma, a major category 5 hurricane is the strongest storm that has ever been recorded in the Atlantic ocean. It’s wiped out entire Islands in the Carribean on its path to South Florida.
Climate scientists have been—and continue to—warn us that there are more of these “mega” storms on the way.
They claim that, because of global warming, sea level temperatures are rising and reaching abnormally high levels in some locations.
This warmer water creates “ripest conditions” for hurricanes like Irma to develop. This is because more heat causes more storm energy to build, and creating more water vapor that turns to heavy rain.
Because of climate change, nearly half of all hurricanes will eventually be category 4’s and 5’s.
Let’s be clear. Climate change isn’t just fueling storms like Harvey and Irma, it’s changing the baseline for weather conditions on our planet.
We know that humanity’s carbon footprint has shifted the baseline conditions of the climate i.e. the context under which every weather event takes place.
Yes, when it comes to hurricanes deemed “Tropical Cyclones”, there is a lot more to them than just a changing weather. Plus, scientific data we currently have on them is very limited.
But, we do have physics—which has a simple explanation for how hurricanes form—as explained above.
A storm’s maximum speed and intensity depends on how warm the ocean is. And there is proof that we are warming the ocean.
Climate change is real.
The IPCC, … wait, let’s define the IPCC.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments, dedicated to the task of providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.
So the IPCC has published computer models that tell us that category 4 and 5 hurricanes have been increasing and continue to increase today. They also conclude that hurricanes in general, have been wetter, bringing a lot more rain with them.
This means they are a huge threat to coastal cities and islands. As they cause increased sea level rises.
Why more rain?
Again, it’s simple physics. Warmer air takes up and retains more water before it dumps it down as rain.
Although some people deny it, these tragic phenomena of extensive floods (southern US States) and droughts (California) indicate that the weather is changing-which also means a “changing climate” also called “climate change”.
It’s important to note here that the state of Florida‘s sea water levels have risen 9 inches in the past 100 years.
What more proof do we need than this?
Learn the truth and do your part in ensuring a better and safe future for our children and for the next generation. It’s not our destiny to hurt ourselves like this.
It depends on what we choose to do now. We could rethink our infrastructure and way we develop policies to minimize the damage.
We also need to start cutting our carbon emissions and shifting energy generation to renewables such as solar power.
For reference, here is how NASA categorizes hurricanes:
There are five types, or categories, of hurricanes.
The scale of categories is called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The categories are based on wind speed.
– Category 1: Winds 119-153 km/hr (74-95 mph) – faster than a cheetah
– Category 2: Winds 154-177 km/hr (96-110 mph) – as fast or faster than a baseball pitcher’s fastball
– Category 3: Winds 178-208 km/hr (111-129 mph) – similar, or close, to the serving speed of many professional tennis players
– Category 4: Winds 209-251 km/hr (130-156 mph) – faster than the world’s fastest rollercoaster
– Category 5: Winds more than 252 km/hr (157 mph) – similar, or close, to the speed of some high-speed trains