Climate change means fewer hurricanes for the United States, according to a new study published on Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The new study is a drastic change from previous predictions that climate change could make hurricanes like Superstorm Sandy last year.
While the intensity of the storms.may not change, the winds during hurricane season likely will, reports National Geographic.
Using computer simulations, the authors predicted that warming caused by greenhouse gases could redirect atmospheric winds, steering hurricanes away from the East Coast instead of toward them.
The changes could come as early as next century, according to the authors. The predicted changes would make it less likely for a storm to follow the same or a similar path as Hurricane Sandy, which devastated much of the northeastern seaboard when it made landfall last year.
Sandy’s unusual track was caused by a rare interaction between the jet stream and a high-pressure weather system to the north. That interaction steered Sandy almost due West as it hit in New Jersey. Sandy’s track was the most perpendicular of any hurricane on record.
The Guardian notes that the odds of a storm like Hurricane Sandy are already incredibly low. The event is predicted once in 700 years. Elizabeth Barnes, a study author and climate scientist at Colorado State University, stated, “What made Sandy so different was that it was steered into the coast rather than away from it.”
However, the researchers warned that their findings don’t mean Americans should start brushing off hurricanes. Barnes commented, “You can’t let your guard down.” The cities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy aren’t willing to take any precautions. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg already outlined a $19.5 billion plan to protect the city from future catastrophes like Sandy.
Not everyone agreed with the new study. Jennifer Francis, a meteorologist at Rutgers University, stated that the study does make “a useful contribution” to the understanding of climate change and weather patterns. However, the models may not be accurate. Only time will tell if climate change will make for fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.
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