The nation is coming to grips with the severity of Hurricane Michael, but forecasts have given us a pretty good idea of what to expect from a warming world in terms of tropical system activity over the next two decades.
The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season produced 15 named storms, including six hurricanes, over the course of the season. Here are some things to know about this season:
1. A warmer Atlantic.
After finding only one tropical system in September 2017, Irma made landfall on Florida and was a major hurricane. What has happened is that Atlantic ocean temperatures in the past 15 years have warmed. They are almost 1°F warmer than the normal average.
2. A stronger “El Niño.”
Falling oil prices have caused a drop in ozone reductions in the Upper Atlantic, causing air pollutants to rise and lowering things like the ozone layer. The La Niña cycle in the Pacific also shows promise, leading to a better atmosphere over the Atlantic. The next El Niño is forecast to last into January, but it could be delayed or even fail altogether. A weak El Niño will likely start up in the Atlantic sometime during the summer.
3. Longer hurricane seasons.
The lack of a strong El Niño during the 2018 season means that it broke a record.
In fact, if you’re willing to wait two more years, your odds of getting hit by a major hurricane while you are in Miami are about one in two.
So, who should be worried?
La Niña is the biggest threat. Although the NHC is hopeful, forecasts for 2020 are for much more hurricanes than the one-in-two-year average. At this time in 2015, after a weak El Niño developed, there were only six named storms in the Atlantic, with only one Category 1 hurricane.
The 2020 season could be abnormally active, so here’s some aid for evaluating some of the possible threats.
4. There’s one more flood to worry about.
Heavy rainfall may be the big concern of this hurricane season. Some 80 percent of the global population is in the vulnerable coastal areas, but about 60 percent of the rain falls in the tropical storms.
5. Texas, New Orleans, and Tampa.
Although the few hurricanes that make landfall in the United States are unlikely, many live in areas that are vulnerable. Here are five of them:
The Big Dry.
We thought we were long past the days of wildfires in California, but not even.
More hurricanes than the NHC can count off of its fingers are likely to hit the Florida coast in the next 20 years.
Reducing hurricanes in America would require a revision to many coastal codes, so well-established “hurricane models” won’t be the answer here.
6. These are your new political leaders.
Remember Norm Searcy? He’s the official representative of the Southeast US whose home was hit by Hurricane Frances in 2004. Then, Southeast members of Congress were the perfect storm. Nearly three dozen were forced to step down from office. Searcy won’t be far behind.
7. It’s still early.
The southern United States should see a deluge of hurricanes the next two decades. We are still in the peak of the drought. Data on how many hurricanes exist has not been published since 1949. This number could change before the 2020 season is over. Hurricane season lasts about six months.
Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is dealing with a growing backlash from fellow Democrats over his recent trip to Puerto Rico to support the building of a new governor’s mansion. “You can’t un-ring a bell. In future presidents’ campaigns, some of them don’t go to Puerto Rico but if Trump builds a wall, he’ll get it done” Cuomo told the Observer. But it’s far from clear that he will win the presidency.
Donald Trump predicted that he will win the midterm elections. If he doesn’t, and a Democrat is elected, the president would likely oppose the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s director, Brock Long, for a second time.