hurricane

Hurricanes are moving more slowly over both land and water, and that's bad news for communities in their path.

In the past 70 years, tropical cyclones around the world have slowed down 10 percent, and in some regions of the world, the change has been even more significant, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

That means storms are spending more time hanging out, battering buildings with wind and dropping more rain.

With the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, residents in coastal areas throughout the Southeast are once again being urged to have a plan ready in case they have to evacuate.

After last year, it's a message that carries some weight. In the days before Hurricane Irma struck Florida last September, nearly 7 million residents left their homes to seek shelter and safety elsewhere. Since then, emergency managers and researchers have been studying the lessons of the largest hurricane evacuation in U.S. history.

Up to four major hurricanes could form in the Atlantic this hurricane season, according to the annual forecast from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Overall, the season will likely be normal or somewhat more intense than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, with a 25 percent chance that hurricane activity will be below normal.

While images of destruction caused by last year's battery of hurricanes are still fresh in the minds of many Americans, including those living on Puerto Rico where after six months power is not fully restored, forecasters are cautioning the public to brace themselves for another busy hurricane season.

Before it got cold this winter, it was warm. Very warm. In fact, new data out Monday shows 2017 was the third warmest year recorded in the lower 48 states.

And it was also a smackdown year for weather disasters: 16 weather events each broke the billion-dollar barrier.

First, the heat. Last year was 2.6 degrees F warmer than the average year during the 20th century.

This archipelago in the Gulf of Alaska is home to one of the busiest commercial fishing ports in the country. Inside the Ocean Beauty seafood plant in Kodiak, where a maze of conveyer belts carry gutted salmon past workers in hairnets and gloves, manager James Turner ticks off everything that contributes to his monthly electricity bill: canning machines, pressure cookers, freezers lights.

"We use a lot of power here," he says.

Courtesy of Kentucky National Guard

About 120 Kentucky Army National Guard soldiers have been deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with hurricane-relief operations. 

Photos by Kara Lofton, illustration by Jesse Wright, WVPB

The hurricane season’s super-charged storms highlighted the importance of disaster planning, and it’s not just a concern for the coasts. Scientists warn that heavy rain events have become more common in the Ohio Valley. Here's how some flood-prone communities are preparing for what experts call “the new normal” of extreme weather. 

With Hurricane Maria still smashing up Puerto Rico, the economic costs of this year's hurricane season continue to grow by the minute. It will take a while for economists to tally it all up.

But this much already is clear: The recent enormous storms have taken a toll on the housing industry.

Three separate industry reports, issued over the past three days, have all shown that rough weather in the South and wildfires in the West have been creating problems for this key economic sector.

Where will it go? How strong will it be? When will it hit? Those are the answers everyone wants — not the least of which are the hurricane forecasters themselves.

To get those answers, hundreds of millions of data points — everything from wind speeds to sea temperatures — pouring in from satellites, aircraft, balloons, buoys and ground stations are fed into the world's fastest computers and programmed with a variety of models at different resolutions, some looking at the big picture, others zooming in much closer.

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