By studying the network of weather stations across the US, researchers have found a couple of interesting results — the biggest storms recorded in a given year are increasing in strength, and the frequency of extreme storms is also increasing.
In addition, the frequency of extreme storms is also increasing. An extreme storm is one where the rate of precipitation exceeds by a certain amount the long-term mean rate of precipitation for a given site (so an extreme storm in a wet region like the northeast US has a much higher precipitation rate than an extreme storm for a drier region). So you might be asking yourselves whether these results translate into more frequent, massive hurricanes slamming into Florida. This is a somewhat controversial topic. The consensus answer is that with a warmer atmosphere, hurricanes will become more powerful, but not necessarily more frequent. Still, as we will see in Module 11, this poses a great threat to coastal communities.
Check Your Understanding
What is predicted to happen to hurricanes over the next century?
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B. More intense. Hurricanes are projected to become more intense but not necessarily more numerous.