Rare Storm Activity in 2018

Published on September 9th, 2018

As forecasters predicted an increased likelihood that Tropical Storm Florence could strengthen and strike somewhere along the East Coast, some experts said it was another symptom of a historic and unique hurricane season that could be influenced by global warming.

With the Eastern Seaboard on alert, storms in the northeast Pacific Ocean have generated the most “accumulated cyclone energy” on record through the first week September, said Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric science researcher at Colorado State University.

Usually when the Pacific is alive with storm energy the Atlantic Ocean is not. The synergistic high and low activity modes are well known to scientists, and this was supposed to be the Pacific’s year to make waves.

And then Florence came along.

“The thing that’s interesting now is the Pacific is still active, but the Atlantic is very active, which isn’t normal,” Klotzbach said. “I’m surprised to see the Pacific and Atlantic active at the same time.”

The researcher said this happened to a lesser extent in 2016, but notes that this time around the Atlantic is displaying unusual fury after being slated for relative hibernation.

There have been nine named storms in the Atlantic — above average for the period — and 15 in the Pacific since their hurricane seasons began on June 1 and May 15, respectively, Klotzbach said.

Since 1970, the northeast Pacific and Atlantic have had above-average accumulated cyclone energy in the same year only twice — in 1998 and 2016, Klotzbach said via email.

It may be too soon to blame climate change for the anomalous weather. But experts say there are correlations between what’s happening in the seas off the United States and what global warming has been doing for years — heating up the waters. – Full report


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