Thursday, October 23, 2008

Data show U.S. riding out worst storms on record

USA Today: More frequent and powerful hurricanes from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico since the mid-1990s have created one of the most dangerous and costliest storm eras in recorded history, a USA TODAY analysis of weather data shows. Since 1995, there have been 207 named storms in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico — a 68% increase from the previous 13 years, according to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Of those storms, 111 were hurricanes, a 75% increase over the previous period.

This year, with just over one month left in the Atlantic hurricane season, there have been 15 named storms, seven of which have been hurricanes. The latest to make U.S. landfall were Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which battered the Louisiana and Texas coasts last month, destroyed billions of dollars' worth of homes and businesses, and caused deluges as far inland as Missouri and Chicago.

"We've had quite an intense increase in hurricane activity," said Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "We may be in this cycle for another 20 years." The increased populations in coastal communities and the loss of wetlands, which serve as a natural buffer against hurricanes, mean the USA is confronting one of the more dangerous and expensive hurricane periods ever, Trenberth said….

…."Storms are not just making landfall and going away the way they did in the past," Trenberth said. "Somehow these storms are able to live longer today."…

FEMA shot of damage from Hurricane Andrew in 1992

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