As levels of CO2 in the atmosphere rise from man-made emissions, the likelihood of extreme weather is increasing. Over recent decades, scientists have seen a trend of increased storm activity along with higher temperatures.
Drought, flooding, deadly hurricanes, and tornadoes are now more common around the world. Along with loss of life and property, animals are also struggling to survive.
Hurricanes, also called typhoons or cyclones, form near the equator, over warm ocean water. As the water evaporates, it creates clouds that rise, allowing cooler air to swirl in beneath them.
As the ascending air cools, it descends, creating moving air masses. The earth's rotation moves them, making the system spin faster. Eventually, the air speeds up and an area of calm air forms in the center, called the eye of the hurricane.
The system continues to move over warm water, picking up more evaporated water and growing stronger.
When a tropical storm reaches 74 mph or higher it becomes a hurricane. Speeds beyond 157 mph or higher make it a category 5 or Catastrophic Storm.
2017 was the costliest hurricane season on record with estimated damages at $282.16 billion. It was also amongst the most active, featuring several category 5 hurricanes.
Worldwide, heavy rains, tornadoes, floods and other forms of extreme weather continue to increase.
In the Atlantic, hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th with peaks in August, September & October. If you live or are traveling in the area, stay alert to warnings from your local weather service and be prepared.