Hurricane Sandy off the Florida coast

Are hurricanes getting worse?


While it is possible that climate change played some role in the destructive power of Hurricane Sandy (say, due to slightly higher sea levels), there is no good statistical evidence that landfalling hurricanes in the U.S. (or global hurricane activity) has gotten worse in the last 40 years or more.

In fact, as of this writing (May 30, 2013) the U.S. has gone a record length of time without a Category 3 (or stronger) hurricane making landfall...2,773 days.

The follwoing plot produced by Dr. Ryan Maue shows that the total wind energy in global tropical cyclones has varied considerably since the 1970s, with the most recent peak during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season but then a substantial decrease up to the present and no obvious long-term trend: Global Accumulated (tropical) Cyclone Energy (ACE)

There continues to be great uncertainty and disagreement among climate experts whether global warming should cause a change in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones.
(page last updated 5/30/2013)
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