Letter to the Editor graphic

The 2018 forecast for Atlantic hurricanes caused me to think about Houston, Texas, which experienced disastrous flooding from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.

According to a study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the waters in the Gulf of Mexico at that time “were warmer than any time on record” at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists have reported for years that higher ocean temperatures lead to more damaging storms. When Harvey stalled over Houston, it contained abundant moisture to dump.

"We show, for the first time, that the volume of rain over land corresponds to the amount of water evaporated from the unusually warm ocean," said lead author Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist. "As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey."

NCAR also reported “sea surface temperatures above 79 degrees Fahrenheit are typically needed for a hurricane to continue to grow.” 

A hurricane is not now present in the Gulf, but more will surely come. 

Note that early on May 25, the National Data Buoy Center station 42040, located in the Gulf south of Mobile, reported a sea surface temperature of 81.7 degrees.

We have known for decades that increased levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) result from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), and these gases cause increased temperatures.

We must rapidly convert to renewable sources of energy (solar, wind, geothermal), which will greatly reduce GHG emissions. We can and must do this!

David Newton

Auburn, Alabama

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