10 ’canes in a row matches record
Ophelia garners hurricane status, takes aim at Ireland, Scotland
With Tropical Storm Ophelia’s transition to Hurricane Ophelia, 2017 became the first year in more than a century — and only the fourth on record — in which 10 Atlantic storms in a row reached hurricane strength.
Franklin. Gert. Harvey. Irma. José. Katia. Lee. Maria. Nate. Ophelia.
Ophelia, far out in the Atlantic, was moving northeast Thursday and was expected to approach Ireland on Monday before moving over Scotland, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It is expected to be the strongest storm in the far eastern Atlantic since Hurricane Ivan in 1980.
The last time 10 consecutive Atlantic storms became hurricanes was in 1893 — and because tracking technology was more primitive then, some weak tropical storms or tropical depressions may have gone undetected within that streak, meteorologists say.
There were also 10-hurricane runs in 1878 and 1886, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist for Weather Underground.
The number of named storms — 10 hurricanes and five tropical storms, for a total of 15 — has already made the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season one of the busiest on record, and there is still more than a month and a half to go before it officially ends.
All of this leads to one question: Why?
The link between climate change and hurricanes is not as simple as the link between climate change and other extreme weather events, like heat waves and droughts, scientists say. But climate change is one factor.
Joel Myers, the founder and president of Accuweather, said that “we don’t have enough data” to attribute the intensity of this year’s hurricane season specifically to climate change as opposed to ordinary variables, like water temperature cycles that occur over 20 to 40 years.
What is clear is that this year, warm waters have combined with atmospheric conditions to produce an exceptionally destructive Atlantic hurricane season. And steering currents have tended to drive storms over land rather than pushing them out to sea, creating an enormous human toll.