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Hurricane seasons start earlier: US meteorologists postponed forecast dates

The National Hurricane Center announced on March 2 that it will officially begin issuing weather forecasts for the tropical hurricane season on May 15 this year, as opposed to the traditional start of the season on June 1. This step was taken after the season began more than once earlier, writes Gizmodo.

Photo: Shutterstock

Hurricane season in the Atlantic runs from June 1 to November 30. It is during this time that conditions are most conducive to the formation of storms due to warm air and water temperature. (The Pacific has its own hurricane season, which spans the same time frame, but because the waters are colder, it tends to generate fewer hurricanes than the Atlantic.)

Storms started to form in the Atlantic earlier, when ocean and air temperatures increased due to climate change. Hurricane Arthur hit the east coast last year on May 16. This storm made 2020 the sixth straight season that the hurricane formed ahead of the official start date on June 1. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has no plans to move the start of the season yet, earlier projections are for recent history.

“There have been 10 storms in the last decade in the weeks leading up to the traditional start of the season, a big jump,” said Sean Sublett, a meteorologist at Climate Central, noting that between the 1960s and 2010s. on average, 1-3 storms were formed each decade prior to the start date of June 1.

On the subject: Less than 100 days left before the new Atlantic hurricane season: what to prepare for

It might be tempting to attribute this earlier season solely to climate change, the warming of the Atlantic. But technology also has a role to play: observing systems along the coast are being strengthened, and satellites are emerging that can detect storms far out to sea.

“We can't just say, 'Ha, the planet is warming, we had to postpone the entire season!” Sublett said. - I don't think there is a compelling reason for this. The weather experts can sit and discuss it for a while. ”

Earlier storms will not necessarily be more dangerous. In fact, early season hurricanes tend to be weaker than the monsters that form in August and September when hurricane season reaches its peak. But regardless of their severity, these earlier hurricanes have sparked a debate in the NHC about whether the official start date of the season should be rescheduled. The key step so far is not an official announcement of this decision, but a recognition of the increased attention to early hurricanes.

“I would say the National Hurricane Center is taking the initiative,” Sublett said. "It's like," hey, we know May has been a little busier for the past few years than we've seen in the last five decades, and we know there is awareness now, so we're going to start releasing these reports early. "

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While it is still unknown if climate change is affecting the earlier season, research has shown that severe hurricanes are becoming more common and that climate change is likely to play a role.

A study published last year found that the likelihood of a storm becoming a major hurricane - category 3 or greater - has increased 49% since satellite monitoring began four decades ago. Rising sea levels allow storms to do more damage. Thus, whether climate change is affecting the Atlantic Ocean, hurricane season early or not, the risks increase.

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