Hurricanes are producing more rain than before, study finds
Hurricane Ian. Credit: NASA

Hurricanes have become more and more damaging. They have become more prolific at making more rain.

One of the costliest and deadliest storms in Florida's recent history is reflected by the dramatic rise in rain. Hurricane Ian was a Category 4 storm and wreaked havoc in Florida. Major flooding occurred as it dumped a record amount of rain. A one-in-1,000-year rain was recorded in some areas.

The uncertainty of numerical models makes it difficult for the National Hurricane Center to forecast precipitation.

FIU Department of Earth and Environment Professor Haiyan Jiang and her PhD student Oscar Guzman are working together to improve the accuracy of Hurricane rainfall predictions.

Over the last two decades, hurricanes have been producing more rain. This is a sign storms will cause more severe and damaging impacts.

Hurricane Ian's extreme rainfall amount shows that we could see more hurricanes in the future due to climate change.

Predicting future outcomes using theoretical computer models has shown that future hurricanes will bring more rain. Global climate change causes a warmer, more humid environment that feeds the creation of more hurricanes and also shoots more water into the air, which causes more rain.

They didn't want to wait for the next storm to hit.

They looked at a total of 2,000 storms in six oceans. They found that the precipitation rate had gone up. The trend was more pronounced in the north.

The rainbands that wrap around the storm have seen an increase in precipitation. The rainband regions are larger and more expansive than the inner core.

One percent may not be important. It's a huge and dangerous increase of water when you accumulate 20 years of a single perfect increase.

Too much rain can cause floods and slides. Most people think hurricanes are dangerous because of high winds, but the majority of deaths are related to water. In coastal areas where storm surge may already pose a threat, more water from rain poses even more concerns.

Jiang and Guzman are more determined than ever and ready for the next step of their research to improve their predictions for hurricanes.

Humans have a powerful tool. More accurate positions don't change the track of a storm but can offset some uncertainty and provide a clearer idea of possible impacts so officials are better informed and equipped to issue evacuate or other warnings and even drain canals earlier.

More information: Oscar Guzman et al, Global increase in tropical cyclone rain rate, Nature Communications (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25685-2 Journal information: Nature Communications