Publication Date August 22, 2021 | WBUR

Tropical Storm Henri Is Bringing High Winds, Heavy Rain And Flooding. Is It Climate Change?

United States
Waves pound the beaches of Montauk, New York, on Sunday as Tropical Storm Henri approaches. Credit: Craig Ruttle, AP
Waves pound the beaches of Montauk, New York, on Sunday as Tropical Storm Henri approaches. Credit: Craig Ruttle, AP

Climate Signals summary: Tropical Storm Henri made landfall in Rhode Island on August 22nd. This was the first tropical cyclone to make landfall in the state since Hurricane Bob in 1991, but there's evidence that climate change is making it increasingly likely for more tropical systems to track into the north Atlantic.


Article excerpt: "The two things we are confident of is that as you warm the climate, hurricanes can become more intense and we would expect to see more high category hurricanes. The other thing that we're very confident about is that it will rain more during these storms. What we're not confident about is the frequency of weak storms. They could go up, they could go down." - Kerry Emanuel

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"Climate change affects everything. So when we look at hurricanes, we have to look at everything. So, yes, it affects the path of hurricanes because hurricanes are embedded in airflow at various different levels in the atmosphere and climate change changes that. Climate change also changes where hurricanes form, and it changes how intense they get." - Kerry Emanuel

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"We believe from calculations we've done that as the world continues to warm, we will see an increase in hurricane risk in New England. Almost all the models agree with that. Now, bear in mind, as you stated, hurricanes are rare in New England. The last time we had a real hurricane in New England was Bob in 1991, so 30 years ago." - Kerry Emanuel

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"Given the IPCC report and all the science behind it — of which I've been involved in the hurricane-relevant parts — we can expect to see new records set for the intensity, or wind speeds, of hurricanes. Much more consequential than that in terms of human lives, suffering and destruction, is that we're going to see a lot of records broken for rainfall and rainfall-induced flooding from tropical cyclones. That’s mostly because storms are going to be wetter and because in some places they’re going to slow down and linger longer." - Kerry Emanuel