If the reader has been watching in horror the historic, deadly “Apocalyptic Louisiana flood” progress this week, perhaps that has been enough to take to heart the latest hurricane season predictions. This hurricane season is due to bring a staggering eight severe hurricanes reaching category 3,4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to a new National Meteorological Service (SMN) forecast. Today’s deadly Louisiana flood, that killed at least 11 people, and displaced tens of thousands of people, might serve as a 2016 hurricane season sober warning: Prepare now. Flooding is the most dangerous result of hurricanes.
Ten storms are predicted for the Pacific Ocean and 10 for the Atlantic between now and the end of the hurricane season there, December 1. Of those twenty storms, eleven are predicted to become hurricanes.
On the Pacific side, seven of the predicted 10 storms are predicted to be hurricanes by the end of the June 1- November 30 huricane season there. Six of these could become severe and reach category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the SMN.
Four of the predicted 10 Atlantic storms could become hurricanes and two of those could be severe enough to be rated category 3, 4 or 5, according to the SMN.
“A major impact hurricane will likely strike the U.S. in 2016,” predicts senior research scientost David Dilley of Global Weather Oscillations (GWO).
Models show that the tropics and the Gulf are very active this August. GWO has provided more accurate predictions than any other organization over the past nine years, it boasts on its website. Dilley combines his research with peer reviewed research from other scientists.
“Most scientists are afraid to speak out, especially if they are still employed by a university or government. Retired scientists are beginning to speak up,” Dilley states as a comment.
The record for Pacific hurricanes was 24 in 1992 and for the Atlantic, 27 in 2005. The record for the least number of hurricanes was four in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in 1953 and 1983.
‘Dice Are Loaded’
Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) classified the Louisiana catastrophe as the eighth flood considered to be a once-in-every-500-years event to have taken place in the US in little over 12 months.
“Louisiana is always at risk of floods, naturally, but climate change is exacerbating that risk, weighting the dice against us,” Katharine Hayhoe, a climate researcher at Texas Tech University, told Chris Mooney at The Washington Post. “How long will it be until we finally recognize that the dice are loaded?”
Heat waves are the easiest link between climate change and extreme weather events, according to a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences. A generally warming planet breaks warm-temperature records more frequently than cold-temperature records, setting the stage for lengthier or stronger bouts of extreme heat.
But one relatively simple link involves rainfall and heavy flooding.
“Heavy rainfall is influenced by a moister atmosphere, which is a relatively direct consequence of human-induced warming, though not as direct as the increase in temperature itself,” notes the NAS report. This is due to the atmosphere warming and its ability to retain water vapor increasing. The climate influence on precipitation events runs from tropical cyclones to blizzards — all with the capacity to produce more precipitation during extreme events.
A heavy precipitation trend has already been documented in the United States and in the region currently experiencing disaster, according to the National Climate Assessment:
Adam Sobel, a climate scientist at Columbia University, does not rule out other contributing causes for the catastrophic Louisiana flood.
“Observations over the US and many other places around the world show that heavy rain events have been becoming heavier over the last several decades. Climate models very consistently predict that this should happen as the climate warms, and basic physics leads us to interpret this change as, in large part, a consequence of increasing water vapor in the atmosphere,” explains Sobel. “On this basis we can say that climate change has most likely increased the probability of an event like this. One still can’t say that climate change ’caused’ this event, as each event has many causes and no event can be viewed solely as a consequence of long-term trends.”
“Because global warming is real and present, it is not a question as to whether it is playing a role but what that role is,” wrote Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and two colleagues in a 2015 paper.
Julee Doiron, 56, and a friend in south Louisiana walked down the road to a flooded storage facility where she stored a valuable record collection. She said that felt fortunate the flooding stopped a block short of her home, but she owns a couple of water-damaged rental properties that aren’t covered by flood insurance.
“None of these places are in a flood zone,” she said. “Why buy it if you don’t need it? My agent didn’t recommend it to me.”
In Louisiana, a state accustomed to hurricanes, forecasters said intensity of the rains were nearly off the charts. Meteorologist Ken Graham of the National Weather Service’s office in Slidell, near New Orleans, said forecasters alerted people days ahead of the rain. The forecasts Thursday, however, were for 8 inches of rain, with higher totals expected in some araes, not 2 feet of rain in a 48-hour as happened in Zachary, nor 30 inches in total for many areas.
Outsmarting predicted extreme storms by moving to higher ground or a safer area might also be dangerous, according to Hayhoe.
“When climate is changing, though, relying on the past to predict the future will give us the wrong answer — and not just a wrong answer, but a potentially dangerous one,” Hayhoe said. “We buy a house outside the 100-year flood zone, believing that means we’re safe. We expect our storm sewer drains and our levees to protect us from all but the rarest extremes, failing to account for how these extremes are rapidly becoming more frequent in a changing climate.”
Is climate change dangerous?
(Feature photo credit: Instituto de Ciencias Medicas de Chinas)
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