New research from UW-Madison shows hurricanes are slowing, dropping more rain

MADISON (WKOW) – As Hurricane Florence continues to barrel towards the Mid-Atlantic, it’s expected to stall and sit along the coast, dropping historic amounts of rain.

New research done at UW-Madison shows this slowing trend is happening more often in recent history with devastating results.

Florence is forecast to drop more than 3 feet of rain in parts of the Carolinas and just last year Harvey dumped an unprecedented 5 feet of rain in southeast Texas.

Dr. Jim Kossin, NOAA atmospheric scientist at UW-Madison, found that in the past 70 years, hurricanes have slowed 10% over open waters and 16% on the U.S. Coast. His research was published in the scientific journal, Nature, in June.

He says, “The last thing you want (the hurricane) to do is stay in your neighborhood longer then they used to, and that’s what we found…The really spooky part about that is that the slower the storm goes, the more rainfall falls in a given area.””

Dr. Kossin looked through decades of weather satellite data to see how fast previous storms had moved. And that satellite technology was created at the university in the late 1950’s.

Fellow department researcher, Derrick Herndon, stresses why the study’s findings are so important, “At the end of the day, it’s not the wind that kills people, it’s the water.”

The slowing may be linked to climate change. Because the earth’s poles are warming the fastest, temperature differences between there and the equator decrease.’

The weaker contrast causes environmental winds in the atmosphere to slow down, meaning there is less to steer tropical systems.

Dr. Kossin says, “The connections between global warming and hurricanes is not particularly difficult to make.”

And now, Florence is being added to the growing list of storms backing his research.

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