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Atlantic hurricane season has begun and experts warn it will be more active than usual | Future America

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Hurricane Otis left a scar in Mexico. With economic losses reaching $15 billion – making it the costliest climate event of 2023 – this is an almost unprecedented event. In just 12 hours, Otis went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane, the highest classification, giving clues that the dynamics of hurricanes and storms can change.

This 2024 Atlantic hurricane season — this time on the other side of the continent — could provide other clues as well. According to projections by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it will be “above normal”.

NOAA warns that with an 85% probability, this season, from June 1 to November 30, will have more named storms than the average year. Between 17 and 25 named storms are expected to develop in total, of which 8 to 13 could become hurricanes and between 4 and 7 could be considered more than a Category 3 major.

For an indication of how long this season may last, Bernadette Woods Blockey, chief meteorologist and director of climate matters, He explained during a press conference that the annual average is 14 for the first category, 7 for the second and 3 for the third category. “They are usually forecasts of storms that do not yet know if they will make landfall,” the expert clarified, adding that, so far, it is not possible to specify what their path will be or which coast they will reach.

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At Atlantic, Dr. Catherine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist, was added nature conservation, Storms emerge with some perfect ingredients for cooking. Adding to the development of conditions for a La Niña event in the Pacific — which is expected to become official later this year — are near-record temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and a reduction in trade winds. “Storms capture their energy from the ocean, so higher temperatures increase the probability of a storm becoming a hurricane,” the scientist said. Although it is not yet certain that climate change is creating more hurricanes, Hayhoe recalled that it is negatively affecting them in many ways.

A graph showing the temperature levels of the planet’s oceans in June 2024.NOAA

“Climate change is making hurricanes worse in a number of ways,” he said. This makes them intensify faster, they become stronger, they last longer on the ground, and they receive more rain. “We have to remember that the ocean absorbs up to 90% of the heat released by climate change caused by human activities,” so the Atlantic, just before the start of hurricane season, had high temperatures, which it didn’t. Could be good news.

For a cyclone to form, the sea temperature must reach 26 degrees Celsius. By May 2024, well before the start of hurricane season, the waters of the Atlantic subtropical belt recorded warmer temperatures than any other May. In the Caribbean, during the same month, the water has already reached a weekly average of 28 degrees Celsius, which usually does not occur before August.

Experts stress that this doesn’t mean the season will be bad in the Caribbean or that all storms will make landfall, so there’s really no way to predict whether it will be a catastrophic or extreme season in terms of damage. can induce The reality is that countries have enough information to prepare as best as possible. For example, NOAA reported National Hurricane Center They created a system to translate their texts into Spanish so as to reach a larger population, although this only exists in the United States.

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So every country should heed early warnings from weather services and have clear evacuation routes, Woods says. Otis made one thing clear: Storms will intensify faster than expected, and for that, the consequences and urgency will be greater. “It changes everything because you can’t evict people all at once,” he concluded.