Hurricanes Double in the Atlantic

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Hurricanes Double in the Atlantic

Sophie Davis, Staff Writer

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With a recent spike in the number of hurricanes forming in Earth’s waters, researchers and civilians alike are becoming more and more concerned about the causes and intensity of these severe storms. Many are turning to climate change as the answer.

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Florence attacked the coast of the Carolinas with 20 to 30 inches of rain, according to The Weather Channel. By the time she made landfall, Florence was a category 4 hurricane, and while her reign wasn’t long, she left severe amounts of rain and flash flooding.

“The rainfall was projected to be more than 50 percent worse than it would have been without global warming” states National Geographic staff writer, Laura Parker. She also shared that Hurricane Florence was 50% wider due to climate change, thus increasing the already temperamental rainfall.

As the National Environmental Foundation (NEEF) explains, the increase in the temperature of the oceanic surface water has led to longer, larger, and more intense hurricanes. For hurricanes to form, they require aplenty warm water available to use as fuel. When warm water vapor condenses to form clouds and rain, the released energy heats up the surrounding air. This heat is then absorbed by the ocean’s surface water, only continuing and solidifying the cycle. Due to climate change heating up our oceans, one can only imagine the amount of warm water now available for the formation of hurricanes. Furthermore, the warmer the water, the higher the intensity, as more water is able to condense into storm clouds. Climate change is warming our oceans, allowing larger, and scarier hurricanes to form due to the sheer amount of water vapor available to them.

To set the record straight, there were four hurricanes identified in the Atlantic Ocean in the year 1918. Flash forward 100 years to 2018 and, so far this year, the Atlantic has already seen ten hurricanes, along with five other major storms (including tropical depressions). The number of storms in the Atlantic has doubled in the past 100 years, and the hurricane season isn’t even close to finishing.

The increase in hurricanes and hurricane size directly affects students on the East coast, as hurricane days are put in place and students prepare for the worst. Lake County Schools had not given a hurricane day for over 8 years until Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the fall of the 2015-2016 school year. This led to the loss of two school days, eventually being made up by the loss of early release throughout the month of October. Matthew was fairly minor compared to Florida’s most recent storm. When Irma hit Florida in September of 2017, Lake County students lost two-and-a-half weeks of critical class time. This time was inevitably made back up by the loss of early dismissal on exam days, along with the loss of the first two days of Thanksgiving Break.

Throughout all this, Florence has yet to give up. While she may only be considered a tropical depression now, she still bestows rain and a chance of flash flooding to Northeastern states, such as Massachusetts and New York. A spike in Hurricanes through the warming of waters is affecting students as well as average civilians. With Eastern states and entire Caribbean countries left in a state of despair and disarray, one can’t help but wonder how something as simple as warmer waters would have led to this.