Study Finds Tropical Cyclones Are Intensifying Faster as They Approach the East Coast
UNITED STATES—October 21, 2022—A new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy looks at the rate of intensification of tropical storm systems on the East Coast of the United States. Based on data from the last 40 years, the study finds that storms are intensifying at a much faster rate as they approach land, leading to stronger and more dangerous storms closer to shore, according to The Weather Channel. Rapid intensification hinders forecasters’ ability to predict their path and severity in time for residents to prepare or evacuate.
Researchers have concluded that climate change is contributing to this pattern. As sea and land temperatures warm, more moisture is pulled from the water, increasing the spin of the hurricanes. Wind shear, which weakens hurricanes, is also declining along the East Coast. Similar patterns of rapid intensification can be found throughout the Atlantic Basin, and as warming continues, these larger and more dangerous storms will become more common.
This means coastal residents and restoration professionals alike need to be prepared for stronger storms and less predictable forecasts during hurricane season. What looks like a milder storm can suddenly become monstrous on its final approach, so every storm must be taken seriously. Additionally, as we saw with Hurricane Ian, the forecasted track and expected landfall site can change at the last minute, so everyone in the cone of uncertainty should prepare as if a direct hit is likely and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.