Last updated October 10, 2018

Will Global Warming Make Hurricane Forecasting More Difficult?

  • Reviews two historical examples of tropical cyclones that intensify rapidly just before landfall
  • Uses scaling arguments and models to show that rapid intensification just before landfall is likely to become increasingly frequent and severe as the globe warms
  • Looks at a set of 22,000 continental U.S. landfalling storms  downscaled from NCAR/NCEP reanalyses over the period 1979-2005
  • Analysis suggests that an intensity increase of 60 knots or greater just prior to landfall should occur at a rate of about once per century
  • Finds that almost all the rapidly intensifying events occur along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, though a few can be found along the east coast of Florida, particularly the southeast coast, and one in North Carolina in the larger synthetic set
  • States that the major metropolitan areas most at risk for surprise intensification just before landfall include Houston, New Orleans, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and Miami