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What Do Scientists Say About Whether Climate Change Is Causing Stronger and More Frequent Hurricanes?

When businesses are headquartered in an area that is devastated by a severe storm, a wildfire or an earthquake, the owners may feel motivated to do what they can to help people in their community. That’s the case with Cane Bay Partners, which set up a charitable division called Cane Bay Cares after two hurricanes hit the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017. With so much damage resulting from hurricanes in recent years, many people wonder whether climate change is causing the storms to be more frequent and stronger.

Reviewing Statistics

As with most issues relating to climate change, experts disagree on the topic. The best way to determine an answer is to review statistics from previous years that are published by authoritative organizations. Climate scientists provide analyses of these numbers to show whether any evidence indicates that hurricanes are happening more often and are more severe than used to be the case.

More Serious Storms

Statistics show that the number of hurricanes has not increased over the past several decades. However, there has been an increasing number of category 4 and 5 storms, which are the most severe hurricanes. Tropical storms are more frequently becoming hurricanes and doing so more rapidly than historically was true. In fact, the percentage of tropical storms that gain momentum quickly is three times higher than it was 30 years ago.

Warmer Ocean Waters

Many scientists believe this is occurring because the ocean waters are warmer, which fuels the storms. The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a U.S. government agency, explains that there is a strong correlation between warmer ocean waters and more powerful storms, indicating the possibility that the warmth is actually causing the problem.

One major problem with these rapidly developing hurricanes is their unpredictability. They change course with little warning, leaving people in those areas unprepared. Hurricane Dorian was predicted to strike St. Croix, but instead it went north and hit the Bahamas before traveling up the U.S. coastline. In 2017, Hurricane Maria slammed into the island of St. Croix, the home of Cane Bay Partners. Sustained winds up to 106 mph and gusts of up to 137 miles per hour caused enormous amounts of damage.