JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Warmer Atlantic Ocean water caused the unusual number of major hurricanes in 2017 according to a study that expects to see stronger Category 3 systems in the years ahead.
Above average warm water lasting unusually long through the entire hurricane season fueled an abundance of 10 hurricanes and last year ranked third for major hurricanes, with six reaching winds over 110 mph,
Hiro Murakami, climate scientist and hurricane expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, predicts the trend will boost the number of extra intense hurricanes by a couple each year by the end of the century in the tropical Atlantic.
An average season typically has six hurricanes, with between two and three major cyclones per year, but it may go up to five to eight major hurricanes a year around the year 2100, according to Dr. Murakami’s work published in the journal Science.
While most research points warming water to increases in hurricane intensity, a key factor in this research points to the difference in how much the Atlantic warms compared to other global oceans.
The report indicates the major increase in hurricanes last season was not primarily caused by natural cooling in the Pacific Ocean called La Niña, but mainly by warm Atlantic sea surface conditions.
However it is generally understood, El Nino absent years typically boost storm totals since wind shear drops in the Atlantic fostering storm development.