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Unhurried hurricanes: Study says tropical cyclones slowing

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People walk through floodwaters near Interstate 10 in Houston on Aug. 27 2017

In the second study, published in the Journal of Climate, a team led by Ethan Gutmann, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, tried to see how 22 hurricanes that hit in the last 13 years might be different if they hit in the future under a warmer climate. The fact that their results show quite similar trends should be a wake-up call.

Global warming is causing severe storms to move across the planet slower than ever before - and that's bad news for everyone.

"Long-duration or slower-moving storms, even when weaker, can have exacerbated impacts through prolonged wind exposure [in addition to] flooding", according to Colin Zarzycki, a project scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research who was not involved with the study.

This means the more time they spend above land, the more devastation they can wreak with rainfall and storm-induced damages.

Gutmann and Kossin took entirely different approaches-one looking at historical data; the other using modeling to see how storms would behave under predicted warming scenarios. "I just need more convincing that there actually has been a 10 percent motion change".

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Experts believe that continued global warming will increase the severity of tropical storms, but they also believe this anthropogenic warming will increase rainfall.

First, he noted that over the more than 60-year period of the study, there may be natural, decades-long cycles in the climate system that could affect the steering of storms and have little or nothing to do with global warming.

In an editorial accompanying Kossin's work, she points out that it raises several new questions.

That means that storms farther from land in the earlier part of the study may not have had their speeds included in the study. A slow storm increases the risk of damaging floods.

But there are probably more variables at play than a warmer climate putting the brakes on tropical cyclones. "There's been a sea change there in terms of what's risky". Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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