The town of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was still recuperating from Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that had practically destroyed every building in the town six weeks earlier, in October of 2020.
As Category 2 Hurricane Delta arrived, it inundated a number of the already destroyed structures.
It’s just completely unexpected and devastating when you combine Laura and Delta, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter told The Associated Press at the time.
Back-to-back tropical storms are growing more prevalent in the US and might become much more frequent throughout the US Gulf and East Coasts as global temperatures continue to rise, despite the fact that Lake Charles’ mayor labeled the experience unprecedented.
This is the finding of a recent study that was released in Nature Climate Change on Monday and provides vulnerable regions with yet another caution as they adjust to the climate crisis.
According to a news release from the principal author and postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University, Dazhi Xis, successively destructive hurricanes will become more common as the century goes on due to rising sea levels and climate change. Very unusual incidents of today will become much more common.
When a powerful storm strikes a region, it’s awful enough, but when another one does so shortly after, the effects might be exacerbated. For instance, the ground was already saturated from Category 4 Hurricane Ida about 15 days prior to the weakened Hurricane Nicholas passing over Louisiana as a tropical depression on September 15, 2021, which caused the weaker storm to have worse effects than it would have on its own, as the study’s authors noted.
According to the press release, the researchers initially began to look into if this was really happening more frequently in 2017, when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria all struck.
Since sequential hurricane dangers already exist, we believed they should be researched, according to the project leader and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton Ning Lin. In recent decades, there has been an expanding trend.
The team started by examining if successive tropical storms were actually increasing. The researchers utilized computer models to complete the data because there weren’t enough actual storms since accurate record-keeping began around 1950, according to AP News.
According to the study, they discovered that in seven out of nine coastal regions examined between 1949 and 2018, the likelihood of consecutive storms had increased. The danger is still minimal; the highest probability they discovered was still less than 10% for storms occurring within 30 days of one another, but in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, the risk had nevertheless increased during the course of the study.
But in the future, the risk might increase significantly. The likelihood of consecutive tropical storms was the next topic for discussion by the study’s authors under scenarios with high and moderate levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
By 2100, the risk of two tropical storms hitting the Gulf or East Coast within 15 days increased dramatically in both circumstances, from occurring every 10 to 92 years to occurring every one to two years in the worst-case scenario and every one to three years in the intermediate scenario.
This is obviously poor news for those who are in danger, according to Kristen Corbosiero, a storm expert from the University of Albany who was not involved in the study. The findings of this study confirm what we (scientists) have been warning about: as tropical cyclones (TCs) make landfall, there will be an increase in heavy rain and large storm surges.
The major causes of the increase in risk are that warming temperatures cause storms to become more violent and wetter and sea level rise increases the impact of storm surges.
According to the press release, the scientists advised policymakers to consider their findings while creating recovery strategies and enhancing infrastructure in at-risk locations.
According to Lin, if a major hurricane takes a power system 15 days to recover from, we cannot wait so long in the future since the next storm may arrive before you can restore electricity, as happened with Nicholas after Ida. We must consider our plans, our rescuers, and our resources. How will this be planned for?
Back-to-back hurricanes are already more likely to occur, but as the climate warms, the likelihood will increase.