What makes hurricanes stall?

A lot can go wrong when hurricanes stall. Their destructive winds last longer. The storm surge can stay high. And the rain keeps falling

Research shows that stalling has become more common for tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic since the mid-20th century and that their average forward speed has also slowed.

The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the mid-latitudes, where most of the U.S. is located. That’s changing the distribution, or gradient, of temperature between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. And that can affect the steering currents, such as those associated with the Bermuda high.

On average, the forward speed of hurricanes has been slowing down. Simulations of tropical storm behavior have suggested that this slowing will continue as average global temperatures warm, particularly in the mid-latitudes…

A warmer atmosphere also means storms can tap into more moisture. As temperature increases, it’s easier for water to evaporate into vapor…If a storm slows, and if it has access to more moisture, it can dump more rain and produce a greater storm surge due to the slow motion.

RTFA. Even more interesting, mostly unnerving, factors affecting the course of hurricanes to come.

7 thoughts on “What makes hurricanes stall?

  1. Cassandra says:

    Recent Atlantic ocean warming unprecedented in nearly 3,000 years https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/uoma-rao101420.php
    Fluctuations in sea surface temperatures, known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), are also linked to other major climatic upheavals such as droughts in North America and the severity of hurricanes. However, because measurements of sea surface temperatures only go back a century or so, the exact length and variability of the AMO cycle has been poorly understood.
    “Annually resolved Atlantic sea surface temperature variability over the past 2,900 y” https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/10/06/2014166117

  2. p/s says:

    The 2020 hurricane season continues its relentless onslaught as Eta, the 28th named storm of the season, lashes Central America with torrential rains and whipping winds. Typically Central America is a graveyard for hurricanes — but not Eta. Increasingly, forecasters are concerned Eta will reemerge over the warm Caribbean waters and then head toward Florida this weekend.
    Zeta was the 11th named storm and 6th hurricane to make U.S. landfall in 2020. Both are seasonal records (the 6 hurricane landfalls ties with 1985 and 1886). Louisiana is the first state with five named storm landfalls in a season. 2020 U.S. TC damage costs already >$30B. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/eta-could-hit-south-florida-may-become-hurricane-again/


  3. Tom Osceola says:

    “Hurricanes might not be losing steam as fast as they used to : Extra water vapor in the storm may help sustain it after landfall.” https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/11/hurricanes-might-not-be-losing-steam-as-fast-as-they-used-to/
    “Lots of attention is given to the effects of climate change on tropical cyclones, much of it focusing on effects that are dead obvious. Projections indicate increased intensity among the strongest storms, for example, and increases in rainfall and storm surge are unavoidable consequences of warmer air holding more moisture and sea level rise, respectively.
    But a new study by Lin Li and Pinaki Chakraborty at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University focuses on a less-than-obvious question: what happens to hurricanes after landfall in a warming world? Once a storm moves over land, it loses the water vapor from warm ocean waters that fuel it, so it rapidly weakens. The total damage done depends in part on how quickly it weakens.”
    See also “Tropical cyclones are already getting stronger, new dataset shows” https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/05/tropical-cyclones-are-already-getting-stronger-new-dataset-shows/

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