Hurricane Harvey among costliest, deadliest in United States history

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Hurricane Harvey among costliest, deadliest in United States history

People and vehicles are seen on a flooded highway in Beaumont, Texas, the United States, Aug. 31, 2017.

We know that climate change is here, and we know that it's going to get worse and that there will be a lot more Harveys and Irmas and unnamed floods and heatwaves and droughts that will cause a lot more damage than they otherwise would have.

On Harvey's heels, Hurricane Irma-one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded-is bringing more social, economic and environmental disaster. Strong wind shear at the right altitude can in essence "behead" a hurricane as it forms, so Irma has free rein to build.

"This is not the time to be having this conversation", said Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, now U.S. Energy Secretary under Donald Trump, in an interview with CBS over the weekend. Be safe and get out of its way, if possible.

True, we don't know for certain yet, whether these particular hurricanes were caused by the effects of global warming; tests will tell us soon enough. The Category 5 storm left the island of Barbuda "barely habitable", before turning its attention to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. "(But) this is only the second hurricane to likely hit the United States this year. Fewer hurricanes mean a lower chance that one hits Florida. Similarly, flooding from Superstorm Sandy (not even a Category 1 hurricane at landfall) was exacerbated by the flawless confluence of a full moon high tide with arrival of Sandy's storm surge.

Though the numbers are not yet final, Harvey is projected to be the costliest hurricane in USA history. So global warming may have been part of the reason that Harvey rapidly intensified just before landfall and Irma became a record-breaking hurricane. Scientists only started looking at hurricanes from space in the 1970s.

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"Never seen anything like this in the modern record", Blake tweeted.

Another week, another Atlantic storm that weather watchers are calling "unprecedented". "Unparalleled here and totally ridiculous given (the scale of) Irma".

"Hurricanes are organized not only with their circular flow around the eye, but also vertically".

Attributing damage by Hurricane Harvey to man-made climate change by even a small measure is already in the billions of dollars. "This year, all of these features are present". We can attribute several inches (experts say as many as 30 percent) of the 60 inches of rainfall in some places during Harvey to climate change.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has completed climate research aimed at explaining the link between climate change and extreme weather events and assesses the dangers posed by chemical plants in the wake of disasters, stands to lose a third of its funding if Trump's budget proposal is approved.

Hurricane Harvey just drowned Southeast Texas.

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Rood, however, was less skeptical. There is no question that the warmer ocean temperatures we're experiencing now have been impacted by the warming climate. This cloud then gets sucked in the cycle, fueled by the warm ocean water heating the surrounding air, to create the characteristic hurricane. The slow movement of these storms was favored by an expanded sub-tropical region of high pressure over the southern USA and a far northward-shifted jet stream, something that climate model simulations predict as a result of human-caused climate change. "The scientists who do attribution studies are, more and more, answering that question as 'yes, '" Rood continued. These storms are already extreme events, therefore, an additional 10 percent is quite important.

Since risk perceptions have a powerful effect on risk reduction and mitigation decisions, we also investigated how risk perceptions impacted Gulf Coast residents' support for two long-term adaptation policies: providing incentives for relocation, and funding for educating residents about emergency planning and evacuation.

Exxon researchers warned management in 1982 that impacts from climate change could be catastrophic.

As to whether back-to-back major hurricanes are unusual, Klotzbach said such a situation was "fairly common".

A technically succinct explanation is provided by leading climate change scientist Micheal E Mann here.

"Is this (more frequent hurricanes) the new normal?". There is much that we know based on physics, and we should state those things clearly and immediately, as they can provide insights that can help guide people as they begin to recover and plan for the future. The weather is changing; hence, the statistics of storms are changing.

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