Tropical cyclones across the planet are moving at a slower rate along their routes. This may seem like a good thing but this will only extend the amount of destruction and damage that they cause to locations.
The change in speed will increase the devastation that storms like hurricanes and typhoons will leave in their wake.
Climate Change Slow Down Hurricanes
A new study from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists James Kossin published in Nature shows the effect of climate change on tropical cyclones. Kossin's research shows that there has been a 10 percent decrease in the speed of tropical cyclones between 1949 and 2016. There was also some variation in different zones.
Tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic and North Pacific slowed down 20 to 30 percent over land areas. This slow down comes with consequences for locations along the path of destruction. Storms that are moving more slowly will have greater rainfall totals. Greater rainfall could also mean a higher mortality risk.
Kossin writes that greater rainfall increases local rainfall totals and produces more freshwater flooding. NOAA says that inland flooding accounts for more than 50 percent of deaths during a hurricane.
As storms move more slowly wind speeds inside of the storm remain at a high speed but will just make its way more slowly across the land. Rains will linger for a longer amount of time as the hurricane stays around for a longer amount of time. Structures will be subjected to strong winds for a longer amount of time.
Slowdowns have occurred in almost all ocean basin where tropical systems form except in the Northern Indian Ocean. Storms in the Northern Hemisphere have slowed down the most, it is where a majority of storms occur.
Slowdowns In The Atlantic
Storms were found to be moving about 1.25 miles per hours (2 kilometers per hour) slower than it was 60 years ago. In the Atlantic Ocean basin, the slowdown was not as dramatic as it was worldwide., the slowdown was 6 percent. The problem occurs when the storms that originate in the Atlantic Ocean make landfall.
When those storms manage to reach land they slowdown 20 percent. Those storms that reach land move 2.9 miles per hours (4.7 kilometers per hour) slower than storms 60 years ago. This could be seen in Hurricane Harvey which hit Texas in August 2017. Harvey killed 68 people and caused a record 60-inches of rain.
The analysis in the study doesn't include Hurricane Harvey since the data stops at 2016. The study only used past observations and didn't try to simulate Earth without rising temperatures.