Why won’t the rain, rain won’t go away?

Hurricane season more prominent for many reasons

By Collin Frazier

frazierc@findlay.edu

@Collin_53

In the past few years, it has seemed as though hurricane season has become much more prominent. More storms have devastated coastal states and cities it seems in the past few years than ever before. Even with this, however, there are more storms than what people know. Former Meteorologist for WLIO-Lima, Kyle Adams, explains that while it has been an active year, people discuss hurricanes only when the storms have a direct impact.

“It [the number of recorded storms] is certainly more than average. This year has been very active. I’m a meteorologist, but I also am very interested in the psychology of it. People tend to remember the years when hurricanes make landfall,” said Adams.

“For instance, from 2005 to 2017, there wasn’t a single major hurricane that made landfall in the United States, but there were still a lot of hurricanes that developed, they just stayed out in the ocean,” Adams said. “Hurricanes did hit the United States, but they were only Category 2. So people tend to remember the years that hurricanes make landfall, and this year we had a major hurricane make landfall, [Hurricane] Laura. And we’ve had several other hurricanes make landfall that have been Category 1 or Category 2. I think it’s a mix of the two things; we’ve had an active year, but it’s also been a year where we had a major hurricane make landfall, and people remember those years.”

Adams says hurricanes are primarily driven by warm, ocean waters.

“You have to have ocean waters, I believe it’s 80 degrees [Fahrenheit] or warmer, for tropical systems to develop,” Adams said. “Once those ocean waters over the Atlantic reach that threshold, you can get tropical systems forming and maintaining themselves for sometimes weeks at a time. The primary factor in hurricanes developing is ocean waters being very warm.”

Climate change may be an issue for another debate, but according to Adams, the facts show that it does indeed have an effect on hurricanes’ severity.

“Yes, it [climate change] does [affect hurricanes] because of the fact that warm, ocean water is the primary driving factor of hurricanes. In the last 120 years or so, we know that the average temperature of the ocean water around that world has risen almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit. We know ocean waters are getting warmer, slowly, but they are getting warmer,” said Adams. “Based on that, you have to accept that that might have an impact on hurricane and cyclone formation. Now, does that mean that we’ll have more hurricanes? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it does mean that the hurricanes that develop have the potential to intensify more quickly and bring heavier rainfall amounts because of the ocean waters.”

Even though these systems primarily form on the coastal states, it isn’t uncommon for Northwest Ohio to feel the effects of the storms to a lesser extent than the coastal states.

“Hurricanes are large systems. They’re bigger than the state of Ohio at times,” Adams commented. “When they make landfall, they bring a ton of energy with them. They hit Texas, or Louisiana in Laura’s case, [and] once they don’t have that warm water, they do lose their strength, but they still have a whole lot of rainfall and they still have some pretty strong winds. They fizzle out, but they don’t do it immediately, so the storm has to keep their forward speed to keep moving, but they dump a lot of rain.”

“I think it’s important that people understand that the main reason that hurricanes form is because of warm, ocean waters. Hurricanes have always formed, but as ocean waters do slowly get warmer, you can expect the potential, at least, [for] stronger hurricanes to form. And I think that has a direct tie to climate change.”

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