5 Facts on Climate Change and Stronger Hurricanes — Like Dorian

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Hurricane Dorian’s eye. Credit: NASA

Hurricane Dorian is one of the most powerful hurricanes in history. When it quickly became a Category 5 storm over the weekend and slammed into the Bahamas, it tied for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall. Then it crawled brutally at 1 mph — dumping extreme rains and pummeling the islands for over 36 hours.

Destruction on the islands has been referred to as “unprecedented” by its Prime Minister. Headlines state that “a worst-case scenario” is happening in the Bahamas.

Climate change is partially responsible for supercharging Dorian, one of the most powerful storms on record — and one of the slowest-moving, allowing for horrifying destruction. Meanwhile, President Trump continues to deny the science behind climate change and is actively working to dismantle policies that could curb its impacts.

Here are 5 ways that climate change is making superstorms like Dorian worse.

  1. Climate change creates more powerful storms, worsening the impacts of hurricanes like Dorian. While climate change does not increase the frequency of hurricanes, studies indicate that recent strong hurricanes — especially those in the North Atlantic — have increased in severity over the last two decades. The conditions caused by climate change mean warmer ocean temperatures and higher sea levels, which lead to intensified and more devastating storm impacts.
  2. Warmer ocean temperatures as a result of climate change lead to more intense winds and rainfall. Hurricane Harvey’s most devastating impact in 2017 was its extreme rainfall — which scientists estimate was three times more likely now, as a result of climate change, than in 1900. Warmer sea surface temperatures allow for increased evaporation, creating wetter conditions. Rainfall amounts during hurricanes are predicted to increase by about 20% as a result of climate change.
  3. Climate change-induced sea level rise amplifies flooding during hurricanes. Storm surge is what happens when waters rise higher than normal during a hurricane, and then are pushed inland by wind, leading to coastal flooding. These storm surges are the deadliest part of hurricanes — and are made worse with higher sea levels, which leads to more water and more flooding. When Dorian hit the Bahamas, storm surges were predicted to be a whopping 18 to 23 feet.
  4. Slow-moving hurricanes like Dorian are more destructive — and have increased in recent years. Given that Hurricane Dorian crawled over the Bahamas for nearly 36 hours, meteorologists are now saying that Hurricane Dorian is the slowest-moving major hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic. As storms stall out, they have more time to pummel the communities in their paths. A new study shows that Atlantic hurricanes have begun to stall more.
  5. Even though the science is clear , President Trump is still a climate denier. Worse yet, he’s done the opposite, pushing a pro-polluter agenda — from gutting rules intended to curb carbon pollution like the Clean Power Plan, to weakening common sense car standards that would make vehicles cleaner. It’s critical that on Day One, the next administration takes action to move our country to a 100% clean energy economy in an effort to slow and stop the destruction of mega storms like Hurricane Dorian.

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Hard-hitting news + analysis paired with action on the issues that matter most. Working alongside @AmProg.

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