NORTH CAROLINA – Devastating flooding from hurricanes is expected to become more likely in the coming years and decades.


What You Need To Know


  • Southeastern North Carolina experienced catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018

  • A recent study found that Hurricane Florence's rainfall was enhanced by a warming climate

  • The North Carolina Climate Science Report published earlier this year stated that the potential for freshwater flooding from hurricanes will likely increase in the future

It seems that North Carolina is already experiencing that trend. Some communities in the southeastern part of the state are still recovering from catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018.  

Hurricane Florence produced over 30 inches of rain in some locations near Wilmington.

A study by Dr. Kevin Reed of Stony Brook University, recently published in Science Advances, found that Florence's extreme rainfall was enhanced by a warming climate.

Climate scientists have shown that a warmer atmosphere will lead to more frequent heavy precipitation events even in nontropical systems.

 

The North Carolina Climate Science Report published earlier this year stated, "Heavy precipitation accompanying hurricanes that pass near or over North Carolina is very likely to increase, which would in turn increase the potential for freshwater flooding in the state."

Heavier rainfall is just one of the ways a changing climate is expected to affect hurricanes in the future. A rising sea level will add to the storm surge created by the storms.  

While research has not indicated that a warmer climate will increase the number of hurricanes, the North Climate Climate Science Report and other studies have shown that the intensity of strong hurricanes will increase.

There is near unanimous agreement among peer-reviewed climate research that our warming climate around the globe is human caused through the increase in greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide.

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