Hurricane season grows more dangerous due to climate change, Florida’s population boom

Lead hurricane scientist explains dangers posed to Sunshine State

Usually, when you think of Florida’s growing population you think of the rising cost of housing or the traffic on the roads.

But, as global warming spurs stronger storms and more people buy homes along Florida’s coast, Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Senior Research Scientist with the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University said more people are at risk.

“From a damage perspective, we know storms in general are causing more damage just because, as you know Florida’s growing population is skyrocketing — a lot of people moving to the coast — so when these storms do hit you see more damage just from growth in the population along the coast and basically more exposure along the coastline, more property,” he said.

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Klotzbach said climate change is only making the situation worse.

“We know the sea levels are rising, and so sea level rise of a few inches doesn’t matter a ton to me here living in Colorado, but when you are talking a few inches to a foot, that can make big impacts in terms as how far inland that storm surge goes when a storm does occur,” he said.

Klotzbach climate change could also lead to stronger storms.

“When it comes to storm frequency, we don’t necessarily expect to see much change in storm frequency, but perhaps storms getting a little bit stronger with climate change,” he said. “So basically, maybe more of these high-end category 4-5 hurricanes, maybe storms also intensifying a little bit faster, kind of these rapid-intensification events that we have observed in recent years.”

As the planet and our oceans get warmer, Klotzbach said people could also see more flooding.

“With increased warming, you would see more rainfall from hurricanes just because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture,” he said. “There’s a lot of discussion and debate. ‘Are storms moving slower? Some say yes, some say no.’ Obviously, if storms move slower — if you have slow-moving storms like Hurricane Ian — obviously, we saw tremendous amounts of rainfall from that storm. Central Florida saw a lot of really catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Ian.”

To hear more from Klotzbach and what you can expect this hurricane season listen to his conversation with Tom Sorrells on Talk to Tom. Talk to Tom airs every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on News 6. You can also watch Talk to Tom anytime on News 6+.

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About the Authors:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.