Climate experts say a ‘monster’ hurricane season looms

Image copyright NASA Image caption This image from NASA shows Hurricane Jamie near Bermuda in early April

The world’s climate scientists say they have found a “new” monster hurricane season for North America.

They predict a near-normal chance of 20 named storms – there were 18 last year.

But last year’s number was actually higher than in the 2012-2016 run of 13, 14 and 14 storms respectively.

Storms form when warm water interacts with cooler weather in the upper atmosphere. The atmosphere warms with the deeper cold water, and the temperature difference mobilises the tropical storm.

The southern edges of Hurricane Andrew’s circulation in August 1992 was directly linked to warmer surface temperatures off Australia.

Gareth Harvey, a professor of meteorology at the University of the West of England, said the experts used a series of models to rate confidence in their forecast.

Image copyright NASA Image caption June 1991 was a busy year for hurricanes, with 17 hurricanes reported

He explained: “Their confidence is highest in the first forecast – it’s the most predictable, which I think is good news for us.”

Hurricane damage is measured in terms of direct, and indirectly, economic loss. The direct damage is typically caused by the high winds and flooding. But insurance companies put in a strong premium to insulate their exposure in such storms. This protects them against harm, and keeps the risk down.

Businesses are more vulnerable if they rely on local housing, because owners typically house their staff in their homes to make sure they are there to fight off the storm.

We’re hoping we can get off to a better start than what we did last year. Image copyright GOOGLE Image caption The hurricane-prone US northeast was hit by three hurricanes in a three-month period in 2018

Speaking to BBC News, Andrew Tufts, professor at the University of Texas, explained how hurricane hazards are rated.

“It’s compared to all hurricanes on Earth, so this year’s hurricane season is judged as any other hurricane season.

“It’s based on those tropical cyclones (storms that exceed category 3) within the past 15 years. Hurricanes that reach category 5 are considered ‘extremely severe’ and these are the ones with destructive winds exceeding 157mph.”

Mr Tufts explained that the big question is whether the unnamed storms will have the capacity to turn into storms with winds of at least 155mph.

He said: “If we have another hurricane season like last year, then the worry for South American crops is likely to be severe and this would result in price spikes for both corn and soybeans.

“That said, we have seen these storms doing as their names suggests and forming very early – going right in to April.”

Image copyright NASA Image caption Hurricane Florence is expected to get stronger through the rest of the week

The outlook for this upcoming season is the same for Hurricane Florence, which has strengthened to a Category 4.

If it remains the same, then Florence will remain in the Atlantic, although it will be able to “break away” into a new storm by mid-September.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Atlantic hurricanes are very difficult to predict

The experts say to avoid the worst of these weather systems, you can minimise the number of times you get soaked by water gushing out from heavy rainfall.

When flooded places aren’t covered with sandbags, they try to improve ventilation levels, to help keep moisture levels down.

This should prevent them from bursting and are also easier to access, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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