While climate change does not necessarily increase the number of hurricanes, it does appear to make them more intense and destructive. Ocean warming increases hurricane wind speed and precipitation, and sea level rise intensifies storm surge impacts and damages. They are, perhaps, the world’s costliest natural weather disasters.
Communities also face potential flood disasters: Hurricane Harvey dumped over 60 inches of rain on parts of Houston in 2017 and resulted in at least 93 deaths; Hurricane Florence in North Carolina set at least 28 flood records in 2018; Hurricane Dorian was on track to move through the Bahamas and toward Florida, but stalled, causing massive flooding and destruction in 2019. 2020 became the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. Of the 30 named storms, 14 developed into hurricanes, 417 people died and over $51 billion in damages was created. 2021 was the third-most active Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Ida became the deadliest and most destructive tropical cyclone of that season, killing 107 people, causing catastrophic flooding and contributing 93% of the total damage in 2021. In 2022, became the season’s first major hurricane on September 20, devastating Puerto Rico and The Cayman Islands before moving up to strike Canada with 115-mile-an-hour winds. Hurricane Ian is currently threatening Florida.
A collection of helpful infographics and videos on hurricanes is posted at Climate Nexus. Climate Central has created stunning resources to help you understand the links between climate change and hurricanes. Their extreme weather toolkits on Tropical Cyclones and Heavy Rain and Flooding (available in English and Spanish) provide quick facts and reporting resources including experts available for interviews. And their Hurricane Intensity and Impacts report covers the historical trends and high impacts of rapidly intensifying hurricanes like Ian, and lists experts available for interviews.