Unhurried hurricanes: Study says tropical cyclones slowing worldwide

It isn't clear whether climate change is to blame, but ultimately, the storm's sluggish speed is part of a bigger pattern: Tropical cyclones around the world-including hurricanes and tropical depressions-have slowed by 10% over the past 70 years, according to a new study.

This isn't about how powerful a storm's winds are, just how fast it chugs along.

The globe's hurricanes have seen a striking slowdown in their speed of movement across landscapes and seascapes over the past 65 years, a finding that suggests rising rainfall and storm-surge risks, according to research reported Wednesday.

The western North Pacific basin, where the strongest systems are referred to as typhoons and super typhoons, sees the most storms annually and has seen the most slowing, at 20%.

Tropical cyclones have slowed more in the Northern Hemisphere, which is significant because that is where a majority of storms occur each year. "The storms will stay in your neighborhoods longer".

To understand the relationship between climate change and hurricane speeds, Kossin analyzed the paths of 7,585 tropical cyclones from 1949 to 2016.

Christina Patricola, a scientist with the climate and ecosystem sciences division of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, called Kossin's work "important and new" and says she found it "pretty convincing".

Kossin would actually agree on that point. It points directly to the example of Hurricane Harvey, whose catastrophic rains were enabled by the storm's lingering in the Houston area for such a long period.

These lingering tropical cyclones - including hurricanes and typhoons - are increasing the risk of deadly flooding worldwide, scientists have warned. Rainfall, on average, increased 24 percent. The fact that their results show quite similar trends should be a wake-up call.

Dr Kossin said more rain was also falling during cyclones, and there was evidence that tropical cyclones were migrating more towards the poles.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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