Breaking News
More () »

Climate change and hurricanes

Hurricane season is here. Is climate change playing a role in the strength and number of hurricanes? The answer might surprise you.

HARTFORD, Conn. — In the last few years, a lot of conversation has been happening about the strength and number of hurricanes.  

Are they getting stronger, are we seeing more – and is it because of climate change?

There are two main questions when talking about climate change and hurricanes: will hurricanes become more frequent and will hurricanes become more intense as the climate warms?

RELATED: Forecasting the demand on our energy grid this summer

The answers might surprise you.

Data suggests that yes, oceans and our atmosphere continue to warm, but it also shows that wind shear will begin to increase. For tropical systems, these are conflicting factors.

Sign up for the FOX61 newsletters: Morning Forecast, Morning Headlines, Evening Headlines

Wind shear can rip hurricanes apart, or even keep them from forming in the first place. That suggests the frequency of weaker hurricanes or tropical storms could drop over time. 

However, the storms that do form could become stronger, thanks to more energy from warmer ocean water.

That said, the study of tropical systems and climate change is complicated because of a lack of historical data. 

RELATED: Connecticut lobster industry collapsing, warming water to blame

It could take decades before we truly know the effects of climate change on hurricanes themselves.

We do know that climate change is playing a role in the impact of all storms – including hurricanes and nor'easters. Sea level rise is making our coastline more vulnerable to flooding from storm surge.  And a warmer world can hold more water, resulting in heavier rainfall events, even from hurricanes that have weakened into tropical storms or depressions.

Ryan Breton is a meteorologist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at rbreton@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Have a story idea or something on your mind you want to share? We want to hear from you! Email us at newstips@fox61.com



Download the FOX61 News APP

iTunes: Click here to download

Google Play: Click here to download

Stream Live on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching FOX61.

Steam Live on FIRE TV: Search ‘FOX61’ and click ‘Get’ to download.


Before You Leave, Check This Out