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Top Story

Hurricanes: Stronger, slower, wetter in the future?

Scientists have developed a detailed analysis of how 22 recent hurricanes would be different if they formed under the conditions predicted for the late 21st century. While each storm's transformation would be unique, on balance, the hurricanes would become a little stronger, a little slower-moving, and a lot wetter. In one example, Hurricane Ike -- which killed more than 100 people and devastated parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2008 -- could have 13 percent stronger winds, move 17 percent slower and be 34 percent wetter if it formed in a future, warmer climate. Other storms could become slightly weaker, for example, Hurricane Ernesto, or move slightly faster, such as Hurricane Gustav. None would become drier. The rainfall rate of simulated future storms would increase by an average of 24 percent. With more people and businesses relocating to coastal regions, the potential influence of environmental change on hurricanes has significant implications for public safety and the economy.

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