Aletta becomes first hurricane of eastern Pacific season


Slower-moving storms will rain more over a given area, will batter that area longer with their winds, and will pile up more water ahead of them as they approach shorelines, said Jim Kossin, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the study's author.

The research, published today in the journal Nature, measured cyclones from 1949 to 2016 and found that the speed at which they move has slowed by 10 percent.

And that was before slowpoke Harvey hit previous year.

Dr Kossin said: 'Tropical cyclones over land have slowed down 20 per cent in the Atlantic, 30 per cent in the western North Pacific, and 19 per cent in the Australian region.

As storms move slower, they can unload more heavy rain and pound coastal areas longer, increasing damage potential.

The study published in Nature this week by USA weather experts shows the problem weather systems are taking longer to travel across the planet.

Kossin argues that the slow-down is caused by global warming, which is both increasing rainfall and decreasing wind currents. That's mostly because data before the 1970s is not reliable so it is hard to make such conclusions, according to University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

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"The slower a storm goes, the more rain it's going to dump in any particular area", Kossin told the Associated Press.

"Still, it's entirely plausible that local rainfall increases could actually be dominated by this slowdown rather than the expected rain-rate increases due to global warming".

"What we're seeing nearly certainly reflects both natural and human-caused changes", Kossin said.

The storm affected 4.7 million people in and around Houston directly or indirectly during the flood and resulted in 68 fatalities, the largest number from a landfalling hurricane in Texas since 1919, according to a report released Wednesday by the Harris County Flood Control District.

Although commending the study for its findings, she said it is not without its limitations.

But there are probably more variables at play than a warmer climate putting the brakes on tropical cyclones.

"These trends are nearly certainly increasing local rainfall totals and freshwater flooding, which is associated with very high mortality risk", he said. "And when you start getting more and more lines of evidence that all point in the same direction, you get more confident in the answers".