Hurricanes Slower Moving Now, Dump More Rain, Study Finds

Study Hurricanes are slowing which could be a big problem

But one scientist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chose to look back in time, to see what happened in the past.

A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature focuses on what is known as translation speed, which measures how quickly a storm is moving over an area, say, from Miami to the Florida Panhandle.

Kossin's work was based on details of nearly 70 years' worth of storms, but he made no attempt to determine what was causing the slowdown. Between 1949 and 2016, tropical cyclone translation speeds declined 10 percent worldwide, the study says.

This means the more time they spend above land, the more devastation they can wreak with rainfall and storm-induced damages.

In the last 70 years the storms have slowed by ten per cent.

"Tropical cyclones are just carried along by the wind, so it makes sense", Kossin says. That rainfall total is the heaviest from any tropical cyclone in the United States in records dating to 1950, topping the 48-inch storm total in Medina, Texas, from Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978, according to NOAA's Weather Prediction Center meteorologist David Roth.

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"Inland flooding, freshwater flooding, is taking over as the key mortality risk now associated with these storms", Kossin said. "And that has effects on circulation - typically slows it down".

"What we're seeing nearly certainly reflects both natural and human-caused changes", Kossin said.

"Roughly 7 percent more water vapor per degree C of warming", Kossin said.

In a warming world where atmospheric circulations are expected to change, the atmospheric circulation that drives tropical cyclone movement is expected to weaken.

Kossin admits that there are probably both natural and manmade factors influencing the slowing of storms and recommends further studies using climate models to determine how much greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for affecting the storms' speeds. "We'll need more formal attribution studies to disentangle these factors".

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