In recent years, weather experts have noticed distinct changes in the patterns of storms, particularly hurricanes and typhoons. Overall, storms are more intense and are causing more destruction than storms in previous decades. We’ve got a look at the nature of typhoons and hurricanes to try to understand their recent patterns, what is different, and why the changes may be happening.
About hurricanes and typhoons
As we look at hurricanes and typhoons it is helpful to start by understanding the differences between the two. Both are combinations of extreme levels of wind and of rain and both originate when warm air from tropical oceans rises and is replaced by cooler air which then warms and also rises. Eventually, huge storm clouds form and begin to rotate generating destructive fierce downpours accompanied by driving rain. Storm clouds can become so tall, in fact, that they reach miles into the atmosphere. That’s both remarkable and frightening.
So, what is the difference between hurricanes and typhoons? Location. Hurricanes generally begin in the Atlantic ocean and the Caribbean while Typhoons begin in the Western Pacific Ocean. The differing names were based on the cultures and history of the part of the world the storm was in.
Recent patterns of hurricanes
Recent patterns of hurricanes are showing that as the earth warms with climate change and additional water is added into the ocean from melting glaciers, storms may become more dangerous. The warmer water temperatures make it more likely that a storm will develop and the larger amounts of available water in the ocean can provide for increasing amounts of water that is drawn in to become part of a storm.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist James Kosser has shown that another dangerous characteristic of more recent storms is their tendency to move more slowly, particularly as they reach landfall. He has conducted research related to the differences in storms over time which shows that between 1949 and 2016 storms have slowed their speeds by more than ten percent on average. The net result is greater destruction and flooding as larger storms are dropping more water on land for longer periods of time.
Storm outlook for 2019
For 2019, experts at NOAA are actually predicting a fairly typical to lower-level hurricane season in the Atlantic because of a weakened year for El Nino. Unexpectedly, that same factor is expected to produce a slightly higher number of Typhoons, though still close to a normal amount. Experts caution, however, that these weather patterns are still difficult to predict. As they keep a close eye on developing storms they will continue to provide as much advance warning as they can to any community that finds itself in a storm’s path.
Ways to stay safe in a hurricane
All it takes is a single powerful, slow-moving storm to cause immense destruction and loss of life for a community. During hurricane and typhoon season If you live in or are visiting an area that is prone to storms, there are things you can do to stay safe. Firstly, in advance of storm season, develop an action plan for how you will keep yourself and any pets or livestock safe from an approaching storm. If you know a storm is going to hit your community secure your property as much as you can including outdoor furniture and garbage cans that can fly away in high winds, and make use of hurricane shutters if you have them. Disconnect your electricity and if you can find a secure way to fill gas tanks, it is wise to do so. Fill your bathtub with water and stock up on supplies of drinking water, batteries, and non-perishable, easy to open food. Lastly, if you are asked to evacuate or aren’t sure of the stability of your home, don’t hesitate to make use of any shelters that are open. Taking these steps can help make reduce hurricane damage and can keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible.