John Wheeler: Climate change is making some hurricanes worse

The two main factors of these changes are warming oceans and warming air in the polar region.

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FARGO — Global Climate Change is not making more hurricanes. However, it is increasing the number of hurricanes that become extremely strong as well as increasing the probability that a hurricane or tropical storm will produce catastrophic rainfall. There are two factors causing these changes.

Firstly, as ocean temperatures rise, it becomes increasingly likely that a tropical weather system will encounter pockets of very warm water with a surface temperature in the 80s to near 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Water this warm can cause a rapid intensification of a tropical storm and makes Category 3 storms with sustained winds greater than 110 mph more likely. Secondly, climate change has warmed the polar regions more than the tropics. This reduction in the temperature difference from pole to equator has caused a slight weakening of the jet stream and increases the odds of a storm slowing down or stalling, which increases the odds of extreme rainfall.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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