Raleigh, North Carolina (CBC): Using a new forecasting method, a team of researchers calculated that Hurricane Florence, a “monster” storm that made landfall early Friday morning in North Carolina, is set to bring 50 per cent more rain to coastal areas than it would have without the influence of climate change.
The team from Stony Brook University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, used a computer model to compile two forecasts: a standard forecast, using observed atmospheric conditions and sea surface temperatures, and a modified forecast that removed the climate change effects of temperature, moisture and sea surface temperatures.
Comparing the two, they found that Florence was slightly more intense for a longer period as a result of climate change. It also was 80 km in diameter wider than it would have been without the effects of climate change.
Earth’s temperature has risen by roughly 1 C over the last century, with the Arctic warming twice as fast as any other region on the planet. One of the effects of the warming is an increase in ocean temperatures, which help to fuel hurricanes.
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, Sept. 14. (NOAA)
The researchers aren’t saying with certainty that there will be 50 per cent more rain from the hurricane as a result of climate change. “What we’re saying is that in our forecast of Hurricane Florence, that it was 50 per cent higher. This is a forecast multiple days before landfall.”
Hurricane Florence didn’t make landfall as a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher). But it’s set to dump a lot of rain over the next few days across the Carolinas as it loses its forward motion. This “stalling” is reminiscent of last year’s Hurricane Harvey, and it’s something that some studies suggest is also attributable to climate change, however, it hasn’t been definitively linked.
Warming oceans, however, are linked to climate change, and they’re adding fuel to the planet’s deadliest force of nature.