Study: Hurricane Florence’s Rains May Be 50% Worse Thanks to Climate Change

This article discusses the linkage between worsening damage from hurricanes because of climate change. That’s according to a new predictive study by scientists looking at conditions driving the dangerous East Coast storm.

he catastrophic rains accompanying Hurricane Florence along the U.S. East Coast can be blamed squarely on climate change, new research shows. The rainfall was projected to be more than 50 percent worse than it would have been without global warming, a team of scientists said before the storm made landfall. The hurricane’s size was predicted to be about 50 miles (80 kilometers) wider for the same reason. In parts of North Carolina, as much as 30 inches of rain has already been recorded, setting a state record for the highest rainfall received from any one storm.

The reason: warmer ocean and atmospheric temperatures, caused by the warming Earth.

The slow-moving storm pushed storm surges as high as 10 feet onto the shore when it makes landfall Friday morning. It was described as one of the worst hurricanes to hit the coastal Carolinas since Hurricane Hugo battered Charleston in September 1989. But it is the potential for days of drenching rainfall, already causing flooding, that has officials most worried.

Scientists made a similar, though less drastic finding about the effects of climate change on Hurricane Harvey, after the storm stalled and dumped more than 40 inches of rain on Houston last year.

But the ability to make such a projection ahead of a storm is a first. (Learn more about hurricane hazards.)

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