Sci­ence helps ex­plain deadly hur­ri­cane sea­son

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -


First it was Har­vey. Then Irma. Now Jose lurks. The hur­ri­cane sea­son has ar­rived with a deadly vengeance, and sci­ence can ex­plain a few rea­sons why.

“Ev­ery year around this time, even in quiet years, we get some ac­tive sys­tems,” Ac­cuWeather me­te­o­rol­o­gist Evan Duf­fey said. “Hur­ri­cane sea­son has a pretty de­fined peak of late Septem­ber and early Oc­to­ber. That’s just the way it is.”

Th­ese storms ar­rived a bit early, Duf­fey said. He also pro­vided some ideas to help ex­plain this par­tic­u­larly mean sea­son. Two storms alone have killed dozens of Amer­i­cans and caused more than $250 bil­lion in dam­age.

Duf­fey said a drought in north­west Africa in re­cent years prob­a­bly played a role in the rel­a­tively quiet sea­sons of the re­cent past. This year the drought was sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced, he said. An­other fac­tor was the lack of El Nino. That phe­nom­e­non en­hances ver­ti­cal wind shear, which can sup­press hur­ri­cane ac­tiv­ity.

With no dust from Africa to dry the storms and no winds from El Nino to chop them down, na­ture and some bad luck did the rest.

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