Hurricane Isaias is now the fifth named storm of the year to make landfall in the continental US, continuing what has been an incredibly early hurricane season. The last time this many storms had hit this soon was in August 1916. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power after the tropical storm made landfall in the US, bringing with it winds of 85mph and the threat of storm surges and flash floods.
But experts fear things could get worse.
As the climate warms, Earth is experiencing higher storm surges and record rainfalls during hurricane season, which is why these storms are becoming more destructive and costly.
Worldwide, hurricane activity peaks in late summer, when the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures is the greatest.
However, each particular basin has its own seasonal patterns.
In the Northern Atlantic Ocean, a distinct hurricane season occurs from June 1 to November 30, peaking from late August through September.
But the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) explained in their latest report how warmer oceans are fueling more storms.
They wrote: “Evaporation intensifies as temperatures rise, and so does the transfer of heat from the oceans to the air.”
They add that as the storms travel across warm oceans, they pull in more water vapour and heat.
That means stronger wind, heavier rainfall and more flooding when the storms hit land.
EDF highlights that higher sea level can also push more water inland during hurricane-related storm surges.
While hurricanes are also becoming more destructive from climate change, EDF also revealed that they are moving slower and intensifying faster.
They add: “The winds that steer hurricanes move more slowly in a warmer climate. Because warmer oceans transfer more heat to the air – and heat fuels storms – storms get more intense faster.
“Hurricane Dorian, which hovered over the Bahamas for more than two days in 2019, helps illustrate those conditions.”
Hurricanes have traditionally moved at 10 to 35 miles an hour.
Dorian crawled at 1.2 miles an hour, after quickly strengthening from a Category 2 storm to a Category 5.