Climate change and Hurricane Katrina: what have we learned


Hurricane Katrina was sprawled across all or part of 16 states at 2:15 p.m. CDT on August 29, 2005, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

How will climate change affect hurricanes?

Kerry Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

*This story is reprinted with permission from The Conversation

Three weeks and three days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 10 years ago, a paper of mine appeared in the scientific journal Nature showing that North Atlantic hurricane power was strongly correlated with the temperature of the tropical Atlantic during hurricane season, and that both had been increasing rapidly over the previous 30 years or so. It attributed these increases to a combination of natural climate oscillations and to global warming. Continue reading

Climate: Warming oceans may increase New England hurricane risk

Hurricanes and global warming

A NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Bob, which raked the New England coast in 1991.

Historic record shows series of intense storms during eras of warmer sea surface temps

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate researchers say New England’s coastal communities may need to prepare for major hurricane strikes sooner rather than later as the Atlantic Ocean continues to warm.

“We may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years,” said Jeff Donnelly, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, explaining that new research findings show that a string of giant storms pummeled the region during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages. Continue reading

Hurricane experts still see active season ahead


Hurricane Sandy as seen from NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite on October 28, 2012. Photo courtesy NOAA/NASA.

Warm ocean temps, strong West Africa rainy season boost chances for tropical formation

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal weather experts this week reaffirmed their earlier projections of an active hurricane season in the Atlantic, with hemispheric patterns similar to those that have produced many active Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995.

Ingredients for tropical storm formation include above-average Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a stronger rainy season in West Africa, which produces wind patterns that help turn storm systems there into tropical storms and hurricanes.

The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is just ahead, from mid-August through mid-October. Continue reading

Weather: NOAA predicting active Atlantic hurricane season


Hurricane Sandy near peak strength on Oct. 25, 2012. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Feds say now is the time to get ready

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal weather experts said they are expected an above-average to active Atlantic Hurricane season this summer, urging residents of coastal and near-coastal areas in the southeastern U.S. to start preparing now.

Based on a combination of climate factors, NOAA predicted as many as 13 to 20 named storms, with seven to 11 of them developing into full-fledged hurricanes and potentially three to six major hurricanes with winds of more than 100 mph.

Factors involved in the forecast include a continuation of overall climate conditions that have resulted in an active pattern since the mid-1990s: Above average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and ENSO-neutral conditions in the Pacific which leads to less windshear, lower air pressure and overall atmospheric circulation that’s more conducive to hurricane formation. Continue reading

Global warming: More hurricanes in Hawaii?


Hurricane Iniki reached Kauai in September 1992 as a Category 4 storm, with winds up to 140 mph.

Study projects two to three times as many storms by the end of the century

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Large scale shifts in hemispheric circulation patterns and ocean temperatures are likely to steer more hurricanes toward the Hawaiian Islands in coming decades.

A poleward shift of the subtropical jet stream and warmer temperatures over the equatorial central Pacific will combine to make the storms two to three times as likely by the last quarter of the century, according to scientists with the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Continue reading

Volunteers wanted to help with hurricane research

Hurricane Gilbert, courtesy NOAA.

New website enables public to help assess tropical storm intensity

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — When it comes to assessing hurricane intensity, the more eyeballs the better, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is asking the public to browse an archive of historic satellite images to help scientists develop more accurate intensity estimates.

The method for determining the strength of tropical cyclones has been applied differently around the world and has changed over time. That inconsistency has led to uncertainties in the global historical record of tropical cyclone activity, especially in parts of the world where additional data sources such as aircraft reconnaissance are not available. After many people review the same image, scientists will then use that feedback to come up with new estimates of a cyclone’s intensity.

The National Climatic Data Center launched the new website,, this weekend. The site enables volunteers to examine color-enhanced images from 30 years of tropical cyclones taken from the archives of NCDC’s Hurricane Satellite Data system. Then, the site guides users through a process to analyze a specific hurricane image and answer questions, using a simplified technique for estimating the maximum surface wind speed of tropical cyclones. Continue reading

Could cloud-seeding weaken hurricanes?

Researchers propose cloud-brightening to avert strong storms

A composite NOAA image of Hurricane Andrew, in 1992.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While hurricanes are often feared as a destructive force of nature, they are also one of nature’s great climate regulators, helping to disperse ocean and atmospheric heat away from the equatorial region.

But some environmental scientists think it might be a good idea to reduce the intensity of hurricanes by seeding clouds to decrease sea surface temperatures when hurricanes form. Theoretically, the scientists claim the technique could reduce hurricane intensity by a category.

The team focused on the relationship between sea surface temperature and the energy associated with the destructive potential of hurricanes. Rather than seeding storm clouds or hurricanes directly, the idea is to target marine stratocumulus clouds, which cover an estimated quarter of the world’s oceans, to prevent hurricanes forming.

“Hurricanes derive their energy from the heat contained in the surface waters of the ocean,” said Dr Alan Gadian from the University of Leeds. “If we are able to increase the amount of sunlight reflected by clouds above the hurricane development region then there will be less energy to feed the hurricanes.” Continue reading


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