10 ’canes in a row matches record

Ophe­lia gar­ners hur­ri­cane sta­tus, takes aim at Ire­land, Scot­land

The Dallas Morning News - - Nation&world -

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.

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