Increasing hurricane damages

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:53 PM GMT on December 05, 2008

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A conference called the Hurricane Science for Safety Leadership Forum convened this week in Orlando to look at how we can better prepare for the inevitable hurricanes in our future. The conference brought together an interesting mix of experts--scientists from environmental groups like the National Wildlife Federation, insurance industry representitives, and a representative from the pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

There are a number of interesting Powerpoint and video presentations posted on their web site, for those interested. The most eye-opening fact I saw came during a presentation done by Amanda Staudt of the National Wildlife Federation. In her presentation on the policy implication of hurricanes and climate change, she showed that the population of South Florida is projected to grow from a 1990 population of 6.3 million to a 2050 population of 15-30 million people. That's a startling increase in population. Higher and higher hurricane damage tabs are inevitable in coming decades, just from this huge increase in population. She goes further, showing that if the theoretical predictions for global warming by the end of the century come true--a 2-13% increase in hurricane winds due to ocean warming, a 10-31% increase in hurricane rainfall, and an increase in sea level of several feet--there is likely to be a huge increase in hurricane damage, and probably in deaths, as well.

I have a few comments on this. While I believe that hurricane damages will continue to grow primarily because of population increases, higher wealth, and poor land management, the contribution of increased damage due to global warming will start to become significant by the end of the century. The 5% increase in hurricane winds per °C of ocean warming theorized by hurricane researcher Dr. Kerry Emanuel (Emanuel, 2005) may not seem like much, it will make a significant difference in the destructive power of the strongest storms. A Category 4 hurricane does about four times more damage than a Category 3 hurricane, and 250 times more damage than a Category 1 storm (Figure 1). Given the expected increase of tropical sea surface temperatures of 1-2 °C by 2100, hurricane wind speeds should increase by 5-10%. Since the difference in wind speed between a Category 3 and Category 4 hurricane is about 15%, we can anticipate that the strongest hurricanes in 2100 will do 1 1/2 to 3 times more damage than they do now.

This may be an underestimate of the increase in damage, though. Global sea level rose about 0.75 feet last century, and is expected to rise 0.6 - 1.9 feet this century, according to the "official" word on climate, the 2007 report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A paper published by Pfeffer et al. in Science this year concluded that the IPCC underestimated sea level rise, and that the "most likely" range of sea level rise by 2100 is 2.6 - 6.6 feet. If true, we can expect greatly increased damage from hurricane storm surges. However, it is possible that there will be fewer hurricanes by the end of the century, thanks to an increase in wind shear over the tropical Atlantic (Vecchi and Soden, 2007).


Figure 1. Potential hurricane damage as a function of Saffir-Simpson category for U.S. hurricanes between 1925-1995. If the median damage from a Category 1 hurricane is normalized to be a "one", then Category 2, 3, and 4 hurricanes were 10, 50, and 250 times more damaging, respectively. Data taken from Pielke, Jr. R. A., and C. W. Landsea, 1998: "Normalized Atlantic hurricane damage 1925-1995" Wea. Forecasting, 13, pp.621-631.

Better building codes
Congressman Bennie Thompson, D-MS, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, helped to kick off the conference with opening remarks that underscored his intention to hold Congressional hearings on developing new building codes in hurricane-prone areas. He was hopeful that President-elect Obama and new incoming head of Homeland Security, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, would work to adopt new, tougher building standards. "Take a look at the homes on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas that are still standing after the hurricane," Thompson said. "We know how to build stronger homes. Now we just need to do it." Thompson said that while such legislation had been introduced in the past but failed, chances were better under an Obama administration of passage.

I think it is essential that more stringent and comprehensive building codes get adopted in hurricane alley to reduce the inevitable huge price tags from future hurricanes.

References
Emanuel, K. 2005, "Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years", Nature, 436, 4 August 2005, doi:10.1038/nature03906.

Vecchi, G.A., and B.J. Soden, 2007, "Increased tropical Atlantic wind shear in model projections of global warming", Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L08702, doi:10.1029/2006GL028905, 2007.

Jeff Masters

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62. IKE
Long-term discussion from Tallahassee,FL.....

LONG TERM...
(TUESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY) THE EXTENDED PERIOD SHOULD BEGIN WITH A
RATHER NICE WARMUP...AS THE COLD SFC RIDGE HEADS EASTWARD OFF THE
CAROLINA AND MID ATLANTIC COASTS...WITH GOOD RETURN FLOW SETTING
UP OFF THE GULF OF MEXICO. HIGH TEMPS SHOULD QUICKLY MODERATE INTO
THE LOWER TO MID 70S ON TUES AFTERNOON...BEFORE THE NEXT LOW
PRESSURE SYSTEM AND ASSOCIATED COLD FRONT APPROACH QUICKLY FROM
THE W TUES NIGHT AND WED. INITIALLY...WITH THE RETURN FLOW... THE
INSTABILITY SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT ENOUGH TO SUPPORT CONVECTION...
BUT THE DYNAMICAL SUPPORT FOR ANY POTENTIAL STRONG TO SEVERE
STORMS WILL REMAIN IN QUESTION THIS FAR OUT. IN FACT...AS WE GO
FURTHER ALONG IN TIME...THE UPCOMING SCENARIO IS LOOKING MORE
SIMILAR TO LAST WEEK`S EVENT...WHERE THE BEST DYNAMICS WITH THE
UPPER LEVEL SHORTWAVE END UP LAGGING THE IDEAL THERMO...AND KEEP
OUR SVR WX THREAT TO A MINIMUM. NEVERTHELESS...IT IS STILL VERY
EARLY IN THE GAME...AND IF THE SUB-TROPICAL JET STREAM WERE TO BE
ABLE TO PHASE IN EARLIER THAN EXPECTED...THE FCST COULD CHANGE
SIGNIFICANTLY FOR MID WEEK. HOWEVER...EVEN IF WE DO NOT GET ANY
STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS WITH THIS SYSTEM...WE COULD VERY WELL GET
2 DISTINCT POTENTIAL HEAVY RAINFALL EVENTS...THE 1ST ONE TUES
NIGHT AND WED WITH THE INITIAL COLD FRONT...AND THEN WED INTO THU
(AND POSSIBLY INTO THU NIGHT IF THE 12 UTC ECMWF IS CORRECT) WITH
A SECONDARY LOW SPAWNED NEAR THE GULF COAST FROM THE POTENT UPPER
SHORTWAVE. HIGH PRESSURE WITH YET ANOTHER SHOT OF COOLER AND DRIER
AIR SHOULD MOVE IN BY LATER ON FRI AND INTO SAT.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
61. IKE
Quoting MichaelSTL:


I have now, just for this derisive comment.


Good.

I always appreciated your help on the weather, being you know more than me, but your comments to me last week during a GW episode were uncalled for.

Thanks for adding me to your ignore feature.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting TampaSpin:
I will not be doing any updates for awhile as i am dealing with a horrible experince today. I have explained in my blog. I hope to come back soon but, just need some time. Thank you everyone and i will be back when the time is good for me.
I am sorry for your loss and my prayers are with you. I lost my mother on 12-11-94 and it doesn't get any easier. I am very sorry to hear about your friend and hope with time you will learn to forgive yourself. Abuse of anyone is always tough to handle. A woman here in Cayman who was a champion for abused women was murdered in Oct. Thankfully, the two men who are responsible have been arrested and charged.
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Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DEPRESSION TWO-F
21:00 PM FST December 6 2008
==========================================

At 9:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression 02F (1004 hPa) located near 22.6S 167.5W is reported moving south at 5 knots. Position GOOD based on Multispectral Infrared/Enhanced Infrared Radar with animation and 0920z Quikscat Pass. Sea surface temperature is around 28C.

Gale-Force Winds
=================
Easterly winds 25 to 30 knots and up to 35 knots within 120 miles away from the center in the southern semi-circle

Area of gales mooving with the depression

Additional Information
==========================
Mid-upper level convection remains sheared to the east an south of Tropical Depression TWO. The system lies under a 250 hPa ridge axis. Environmental shear over Tropical Depression TWO remains moderate with high shear mostly south of the system. Global models [UKGC/US/EC] are showing little deepening in the next 24 hours and are moving it southward into cooler sea surface temperatures. Tropical Depression TWO is expected to become a mid-latituded depression (LOW] in the next 12 hours.

POTENTIAL FOR TD 02F TO DEVELOP INTO A TROPICAL CYCLONE IN THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS REMAINS LOW.
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India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Warning Number TEN
DEEP DEPRESSION BOB08-2008
08:30 AM IST December 6 2008
======================================

Subject: Deep depression over southwest Bay of Bengal: Cyclone alert for Tamil Nadu coast

At 8:30 AM IST, The Deep Depression over southeast Bay of Bengal moved westwards and lay centered over southwest Bay of Bengal near 8.5N 85.0E, or about 650 km eastsoutheast of Adiramapatinam, 750 km southeast of Chennai and 400 km east of Trincomalee (Sri Lanka).

Additional Information
======================
Satellite imagery indicates shear pattern with Dvorak Intensity of T2.0. Maximum 3 minute sustained winds near the center is 30 knots with gust of 40 knots and a central pressure of 1006 hPa. The state of the sea is very rough around the system's center.

Associated broken moderate to intense convection observed over the Bay of Bengal area between 7.0N to 12.0N and 81.0E to 85.0E. The lowest cloud top temperature due to convection is around -50C to -60C. Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is 10-20 knots. WInd shear tendency shows falls by 5 to 10 knots during the past 24 hours. The system lies to the south of the upper tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 13.0N hence, the system lies in favorable upper level divergence zone for intensification.

Considering all the above, the system is likely to intensify further and move in a west-northwesterly direction across north Sri Lanka and cross Tamilnadu coast between Tuticorin and Nagapattinam, close to Adiramapatinam by Monday morning.

Based on the latest analysis with Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models and other conventional techniques, the estimated future track and intensity of the system are given below:

Forecast and Intensity
==========================
Current (08:30 AM IST) 8.5N 85.0E - 30 knots
24 HRS: 9.0N 82.0E - 35-40 knots
48 HRS: 10.0N 79.0E - 35-40 knots (OVERLAND)
60 HRS: 10.5N 77.5E - 25 knots (OVERLAND)
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I will not be doing any updates for awhile as i am dealing with a horrible experince today. I have explained in my blog. I hope to come back soon but, just need some time. Thank you everyone and i will be back when the time is good for me.
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As a comment Dr. Jeff Master's update, there is a reference to Bolivar and the need for new building standards. This leads me to believe that nobody has actually been there, since that was a very old area. I would suspect that the average age of the houses there was about well over 20 to 25 years old - and there weren't any building codes at all back before the 70s. Plus many of the old beach houses built on telephone pole were intended as second homes for the summer, often as cheaply as possible. Similar construction can be seen in the old part of Surfside, Texas, complete with about 6 homes actually in the surf itself. -sam wells
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*cough cough**did someone mention GLOBAL WARMING?

oh lord...here it goes.

do we have a facebook page up for WU?

On that same note, has anyone heard from surfmom? I put an "event" up globally to all friends to give a prayer or send good "ju-ju" (vibes whatever you want to call it) to her and his way for healing. I don't know if anyone wants the link but can send it to you if you want to pass it on to friends.

can never have too many people praying for you and your child.

Warm regards,

Melissa
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GALE WARNING 006 ISSUED FROM RSMC NADI Dec 06/0058 UTC 2008 UTC.

TROPICAL DEPRESSION TD02F [1008HPA] NEAR 22.4S 167.3W AT 060000 UTC SLOW MOVING.

EXPECT CLOCKWISE WINDS 25 TO 30 KNOTS AND UPTO 35 KNOTS WITHIN 120 MILES AWAY
FROM THE CENTRE IN THE SOUTHEASTERN AND SOUTHERN QUADRANT. WINDS EASING IN THE
NEXT 6 TO 12 HOURS.

AREA OF GALES MOVING WITH TD02F.

---
35 knots winds.. if those winds were closer to the center FMS would have named it Hettie.
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Is there a $500 billion hurricane on the horizon?

MIAMI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - A hurricane that hit Miami in 1926 would cause up to $157 billion in damage if it were to strike today, according to a study published this week.

U.S. storm costs are rising because of higher populations and wealth on the coasts, not a spike in the number or power of hurricanes, the study said.

Its conclusions run counter to the notion that the $150 billion in damages caused by the destructive Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 might be linked to global warming, which some scientists believe is behind a spate of extraordinarily powerful hurricanes in recent years.

An extrapolation of current trends "suggests a storm like the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane could result in perhaps $500 billion in damage as soon as the 2020s," the study said.
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I believe that it is correct that only 3 Category Five Hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records began: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille (1969), and Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992.

So my guess is that was not enough data to accurately extend the above graph.
CRS
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Thank you, Dr. Masters, for bringing us so many interesting and important blog threads each year, this one among them.
I don't say thank-you often enough for all you do.
I am grateful!

As regards this thread, why is it that Category 5's were not included? Seems the graph would go straight upward after a Cat 4...?
I am going to refer several friends and relatives in Florida to this post. Thanks so much. ♥
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Quoting vortfix:
Just do a quick Google search using Dr. Masters' blog title...see if this doesn't show up:



NOAA: Hurricane frequency and global warming NOT the cause of increased destruction



That's almost a bit obvious...global warming is not supposed to increase the number of hurricanes. Right now, it's because more and more people are living in hurricane-prone and low-lying regions. Subsidence in Louisiana, on the other hand, contributing to a relative sea level rise of 3 feet within the past 100 years, is another story...
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Quoting BahaHurican:
"I think it is essential that more stringent and comprehensive building codes get adopted in hurricane alley to reduce the inevitable huge price tags from future hurricanes."

This is as clear a summary of what the US needs in storm prone areas (primarily the Gulf and FL, but also the Carolinas) as can be. Well said, Doc. Hopefully somebody will pay attention and do something.


Personally, I think they have to be real careful here. Go back and look at the damage done. For homes, not commercial buildings, most damage has been from storm surge, NOT wind, (Andrew being an exception). Where there are woodlands, most wind damage is from fallen trees and shingles being blown off roofs, not major direct wind damage (i.e. roofs blown off, walls blown down, etc). Building codes can drive prices way up in areas that never get storm surge. Conversely, wind codes along coastlines will do nothing to prevent surge damage. Any code changes need to be completely thought out, not just hurried through for political reasons that make Gov look like they are doing something.
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Just do a quick Google search using Dr. Masters' blog title...see if this doesn't show up:



NOAA: Hurricane frequency and global warming NOT the cause of increased destruction


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Quoting 15hurricanes:
2009 Atlantic hurricane season:

We will see 4 hurricanes or more before September 30!

I will win !!!!


Pretty much every season since 1995, sans 1997 and 2002, have featured that many hurricanes or more before that date. So you're very likely to be right.
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Quoting IKE:


All it took were the words "I think"....my reply...oh no...Global Warming.....come on in MichaelSTL if you haven't put me on ignore.

*I will not talk GW*
*I will not talk GW*
*I will not talk GW*

There...I convinced myself.



LOL exactly what I was thinking.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Anybody else think OJ is being sentenced for a crime other than the one for which he has been tried? LOL

However, I've been unable to understand the vital importance of this to people, and I guess I shouldn't laugh about the matter.


Could be. I honestly do not know the guy, nor was I there for any of his accused transgressions, so who am I to judge. Besides, I have things that do actually have a real consequence to ponder...this does not include OJ, Britney's kids, etc.
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That's funny Vort.. I saved it, thanks.
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I was going to sit here and read some of the articles/references, but I am so beat my eyelids are getting caught between the keyboard keys . . .

Back later . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20742
Anybody else think OJ is being sentenced for a crime other than the one for which he has been tried? LOL

However, I've been unable to understand the vital importance of this to people, and I guess I shouldn't laugh about the matter.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20742
Quoting vortfix:
Are Rising CO2 Levels And The Increase In Atlantic Major Hurricanes Since 1995 Related?

By Dr. William Gray


You see how in that article that Gray shows the tracks of all majors for 2 periods when the Earth is, on average, cooling and then warming? I think the determination of whether or not the Atlantic has a period of increased numbers of majors is that ocean's relative warmth when compared to the other major TC-producing basins.

If the Atlantic were warming as much as the Pacific were cooling, that would shake out to global cooling, and vice versa. Viola, more Atlantic major TCs for a global cooling trend (this is supported by that work done reconstructing major TC events from deposits in a lagoon...looking for link) and fewer for a warming trend when the trends are calculated via some average global anomaly calculation.

This is completely counter to Emanuel's 2005 assertion that warming is directly quantitatively correlated to wind speed, rather than warming in one basin in a relative sense to another, as appears in the record. Another point must be interjected here that it is also possible that major status was missed during the period of more major activity...before satellite reconnaissance. The intensity of a little one like a Felix could have been missed/underestimated if not flown into at the right moment in the right place. This caveat only adds to the argument, this time...





Gray goes on to say that increases in the thermohaline circulation is the cause. Not sure how to correlate that with a trend in either direction to available heat in the Atlantic and it's relativity to that in other basins...thoughts anyone? Knee jerk is more circulation-more colling at the top of the ocean, but it likely is not that simple.
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The BCS: Responsible for Global Warming?



ROFL

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28. IKE
Quoting NEwxguy:


We will soon be forming the GW support group,for all those GW sufferers find it hard to go about their lives without thinking about GW.


LOL.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
You see, if enough people are convinced that Florida is doomed with Global Warming, the real estate prices will continue to plummet! Then, eventually, I'll be able to afford a whole Florida Key!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Afternoon everybody. Haven't read the Doc's comment yet, but I did want to step in long enough to pass on some informal "news" about the so-called radar page on the Bahamas gov.'s / Met Office website. As many of u are aware, there usually only a few days once in a while when this radar viewer is working. I'm being told by an informal source that the problem is IT related, mainly as a result of incompatibilities between the internet interface and the radar software.

So basically, Cuba, under embargo has radar; The Bahamas, a friendly modern up-to-date ally of the US, does not.

Sheesh.


Obviously it's Global Warming's fault. The circuits wouldn't overheat if it was colder . . .
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"I think it is essential that more stringent and comprehensive building codes get adopted in hurricane alley to reduce the inevitable huge price tags from future hurricanes."

This is as clear a summary of what the US needs in storm prone areas (primarily the Gulf and FL, but also the Carolinas) as can be. Well said, Doc. Hopefully somebody will pay attention and do something.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20742
Afternoon everybody. Haven't read the Doc's comment yet, but I did want to step in long enough to pass on some informal "news" about the so-called radar page on the Bahamas gov.'s / Met Office website. As many of u are aware, there usually only a few days once in a while when this radar viewer is working. I'm being told by an informal source that the problem is IT related, mainly as a result of incompatibilities between the internet interface and the radar software.

So basically, Cuba, under embargo has radar; The Bahamas, a friendly modern up-to-date ally of the US, does not.

Sheesh.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20742
Just dropped in to say hello. Weather in Cayman is great. Winds about 20 mph and temps in the mid 70's
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Quoting 15hurricanes:
Serreze said those who suggest that the Arctic meltdown is just part of a historic cycle are wrong. Serreze worked at NSIDC!


ROFLMAO.......Some need to go back to school
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Fight global warming - move south

Want to do your part to fight global warming? If you live where it's frosty, maybe you should consider relocating to the Sunbelt.




See?

It's stuff like this that helps swell the Florida population!

Someone please close the gate?

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Quoting IKE:


All it took were the words "I think"....my reply...oh no...Global Warming.....come on in MichaelSTL if you haven't put me on ignore.

*I will not talk GW*
*I will not talk GW*
*I will not talk GW*

There...I convinced myself.



We will soon be forming the GW support group,for all those GW sufferers find it hard to go about their lives without thinking about GW.
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But there are several hundred years left in the Age OF Khali.


Yeah!
Bwahahahahahahahaha...!

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But there are several hundred years left in the Age OF Khali.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23105
How about the influence of GW increasing wind shear which help to prevent hurricane formation and/or strengthening?
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.