More hurricanes, more powerful and faster, threaten the Atlantic in 2024

With one day left until a new one officially begins Hurricane season experts in USA and authorities asked the population this Friday to be prepared for the increasingly powerful and frequent cyclones, which hit vulnerable areas of the country with special virulence. Caribbean and of Gulf of Mexico.

The National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, in English) of the United States, has predicted an active and above-average season for this year in the Atlantic, with between 17 and 25 named storms and 8 to 13 hurricanes, of which between 4 and 7 higher category.

However, and as the director of the National Hurricane Center of the United States, Michael Brennan, a major hurricane is not necessary to generate devastating impacts and gave as an example the floods caused by the rains carried by cyclones, which in the last ten years have been “the most deadly danger.”

“They have been responsible for more than half of the deaths” and have almost no relationship to the strength of a cyclone, Brennan stressed. “It doesn't matter the category, or if it is a tropical storm or depression. What matters is how much it rains and how heavy the rains are in a certain location,” she elaborated.

The director stated that other water-related hazards, such as storm surge or rip currents, are responsible for between 85 and 90% of the deaths caused by each storm or hurricane that impacts the United States.

More powerful and more destructive

Cyclones are not only more powerful and intensify faster, but also, as recent studies reveal, this “rapid intensification occurs with increasing frequency the closer they get to land,” the organization's chief scientist said today. The Nature Conservancy, Katharine Hayhoe.

During a teleconference, the expert stressed that currently, cyclones carry “much more water vapor” than 50 or 100 years ago, and also their weakening process, even when they are already on land and far from their power source ( warm ocean waters), is slower and therefore has more impact.

Hayhoe said that to measure the degree of disaster that a hurricane or storm can generate, the latent danger must be taken into account as well as the level of exposure, that is, the number of structures and people that may be at the mercy of the cyclones.

And a third element is vulnerability, which has to do with how prepared and resistant the populations are, a component that is reflected in the different impacts caused by the powerful Hurricane Matthew in Haiti in 2016, where it unleashed an outbreak of cholera.

The deputy director of the organization's Caribbean program, Shenique Albury-Smith, recalled this Friday that Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which reached category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale (the maximum), has been the most powerful to have impacted the Bahamas. , where 70 people died and generated losses of more than $3.4 billion.

“People lost homes, cars, boats, businesses; assets that took them a lifetime to build and that were basically lost in one day, in a few hours,” said Albury-Smith, who also highlighted the psychological impacts that this hurricane unleashed on the affected populations.

The human footprint

“Hurricanes provide a very strong signature of how human activity, specifically greenhouse gas emissions, are overloading our extreme climates, making them much more dangerous in a warming world,” Hayhoe said.

The scientist was questioned about the recent law signed by the governor of Floridathe republican Ron DeSantiswhich eliminates most references to the climate crisis from state legislation and even stops being one of the priorities on the Government's agenda.

“I can say that I don't believe in gravity, but the truth is that if I jump off the cliff I will fall,” said the expert.

He added that not reacting to the information provided by science is an option. “But it is an option that increases our vulnerability instead of reducing it,” she stressed.