Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Climate change has a major effect on the quantity and velocity of hurricanes. While no single storm can be directly attributed to climate change, it exacerbates them all. A hurricane forms when warm moist air over warm water rises and is replaced by cooler air. However, cool air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, so some of the moisture condenses and forms clouds, beginning the storm. As climate change increases air temperature, particularly in equatorial regions where hurricanes form, water temperature also increases. As a result, the intensity and the rate of intensification of tropical storms and hurricanes dramatically increase. Furthermore, category 4-5 storms (the most intense storms) will increase in frequency by 29%. Storms with wind speeds greater than 145 miles per hour (234 km/h) will increase in frequency by 59%. Finally, multiple studies have concluded that 


While these may seem like arbitrary numbers, they are vitally important. An increase in the intensity of hurricanes and the frequency of such hurricanes will result in these storms affecting more and more people. Across the world, hurricanes are the world's costliest weather disaster. Indeed, some hurricanes cost over $100 billion in damage; Hurricane Harvey in 2017, for example, cost $125 billion! 


Image: Dramatic Views of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station From 9/12. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Flickr, September 12, 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/42828604840.

Berardelli, Jeff. “How Climate Change Is Making Hurricanes More Dangerous.” Yale Climate Connections. Yale Center for Environmental Communication, Yale School of the Environment, July 8, 2020. https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/07/how-climate-change-is-making-hurricanes-more-dangerous/.

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Last Updated: Mar 1, 2021

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