Summary: Twenty-two major hurricanes have struck the east coast of Florida (including the Keys) since 1871. It is shown that the observed increase in intensity of these storms at landfall due to SST warming over the years has been a statistically insignificant 0.43 knots per decade (0.5 mph per decade). Thus, there has been no observed increase in landfalling east coast Florida major hurricane strength with warming.
In the news reporting of major Hurricane Dorian which devastated the NW Bahamas, it is commonly assumed that hurricanes in this region have become stronger due to warming sea surface temperatures (SSTs), which in turn are assumed to be caused by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Data - Question - Hurricanes - Coast - Florida
Here I will use observational data since the 1870s to address the question: Have landfalling major hurricanes on the east coast of Florida increased in intensity from warming sea surface temperatures?
The reason I am only addressing landfalling hurricanes on the east coast of Florida is three-fold: (1) this area is a hotbed of major hurricane activity; (2) the record is much longer for landfalling hurricanes, since before the early 1970s the intensity of major hurricanes well offshore was much more uncertain; and (3) the coastal population there is now several million people, the region south of West Palm Beach is historically prone to major hurricane strikes, and so the question of whether hurricane intensity there has increased due to ocean warming is of great practical significance to many people.
First - Let - Start - Record - Hurricane
First let’s start with the record of major hurricane strikes on the east coast of Florida, including the keys. There have been 22 such storms since 1871, occurring quite irregularly over time.
While there has been a slight increase in the intensity of these storms over time, amounting to +0.8 knots per decade, the correlation is quite low (0.21) and the quantitative relationship...
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