‘Packing a bigger punch:’ Hurricane season sees stronger storms with global warming

Warmer climate causes stronger storm surges, rising sea levels, weather experts say

ORLANDO, Fla. – As hurricane season approaches, you may be asking, “What effect, if any, does climate change have on future storms?”

Well, these weather experts have the answer.

News 6 chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells sat down with these experts, who said they expect storms to worsen over the coming years due to the effects of global warming.

“Here’s the bottom line. If the globe is warming, and it is, it’s going to retain more moisture, right?” said Jamie Rome, deputy director with the National Hurricane Center. “It’s going to hold it better. And then a hurricane is going to come in extract it all. So it means, it’s going to rain harder in future hurricanes.”

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Coupled with the fact the sea level is rising, Rome said this provides “a higher base or foundation upon which future hurricanes will have to push storm surge,” causing the surge to go deeper and farther inland.

“Whether the numbers are increasing or not, the storms that are forming are packing a bigger punch,” Rome said.

It’s something Volusia County felt during Hurricane Nicole, despite being far away from the storm’s center.

“Basically, maybe (we’ll see) more of these high-end Category 4 or 5 hurricanes, maybe storms also intensifying a little bit faster, kind of these rapid intensification events that we’ve observed in recent years,” added Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.

He went on to say there’s still a lot of debate whether storms are moving slower but even the slow-moving ones, like Hurricane Ian, result in devastating impacts, like the “catastrophic flooding” experienced across Central Florida.

National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said 90% of deaths in these tropical systems stem from the water and agreed, as a result of the warmer climate, we can expect storm surges father inland and more rainfall during hurricanes.

This also leads to a deteriorating coastline because of the worsening surge, according to National Hurricane Center Senior Hurricane Specialist John Cangialosi.

“We have to prepare for that. And many cities — you know, I’m from New York — they’re preparing especially after Sandy, they’re building better sea walls. Houston is doing it, Miami is doing it... There’s a lot occurring and a lot of the major metropolitan areas that are vulnerable to this (are preparing), which is great to see.”

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About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.