Are Cat 5’s the ‘New Normal’?
Hurricane Dorian was the fifth Category 5 hurricane in the past four Atlantic hurricane seasons, joining other monsters like Matthew, Irma, Maria, and Michael, each of which left its own trail of death and destruction. But this isn’t the first onslaught of Category 5s. Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach explains, “In 2005 alone, we had four Category 5 hurricanes (Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma). And we had seven Category 5 hurricanes from 2003-2005.”
It is unclear if Category 5 storms will be the new normal, but Penn State University meteorologist Michael Mann says, “Warmer oceans lead to hurricanes with greater potential intensities.” Globally, oceans have warmed up about a degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), he says, and they’ve warmed up a bit more in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean, which is where hurricanes that affect the United States come from. However, other research indicates that as the climate warms, some hurricanes slow down, and others occur earlier in the hurricane season.