Hurricanes are moving more slowly than they used to

June 11, 2018

Enlarge / Cyclone Mekunu caused severe flooding in Oman when after making landfall on May 25th as a Category 3 storm. (credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

The formula for how much water a hurricane drops on you is pretty simple: how much rain is failing per hour, and how many hours is the storm overhead. While this won’t account for things like storm surges, it can give a strong sense of the problems inland areas will face. Hurricane Harvey took this formula to an extreme when it got stuck over Houston for several days, dumping incredible amounts of rain all the while.

Alterations in hurricane behavior due to climate change have been much dissected, from projections of stronger storms in a warming world to the unavoidable fact that a warmer atmosphere can carry more moisture. But there’s also a second part to that simple formula—could hurricanes linger longer, adding to rainfall totals?

That question is complex, but a new study by NOAA’s James Kossin takes a look at one portion of it—whether hurricanes are moving more slowly than they did in the past.

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