The past three hurricane seasons have been some of the most destructive on record, with 2017 being the costliest hurricane season ever. This growing trend in hurricane intensity begs the question: why are hurricanes getting stronger?

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Hurricane Andrew 1992(left), compared to Irma 2017(right). Andrew was the most destructive storm to ever hit Florida until Irma shattered that record last year.

The answer deals with ocean heat levels. The earth’s average surface temperature has increased by about 1.4° Fahrenheit since 1880, and roughly 90% of this excess heat is stored in the oceans. This heat fuels massive storms that can be larger than 70,000 square miles of hurricane force winds.

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Earth’s average surface temperature compared to 133 year average since 1885,  1885-1894(left), 2005-2014(right)

 

 

With global average surface temperature still climbing at an alarming rate (an expected increase of 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100), in the coming years we can expect hurricanes to continue growing stronger and bringing with them more flooding.