Now You Know

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:16 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This year’s hurricane season could tie for the highest number of category four and five hurricanes on record for one season, said Anthony Lupo, associate professor of atmospheric science at MU. This may indicate the early stages of a 20- to 30-year trend during which hurricane seasons will be more active.

How it works: Lupo’s research suggests that the global climate cycles every 20 to 30 years, leading to alternating dry spells and high activity periods for hurricanes. From 1947 to 1976, hurricane seasons were active and steady in the Atlantic Ocean; but from 1977 to 1998, the Atlantic was much quieter. Since 1999, Lupo has noted an upswing in activity. The cycles are related to changes in ocean temperatures, but Lupo does not think this is indicative of global warming.

Why it matters: Hurricanes coming inland along the Gulf Coast can potentially travel northward to Missouri, causing torrential rainfall in an otherwise dry season. This happened last year when tropical storm Grace moved inland via Texas and dumped 12 inches of rain in Kansas City and 4 inches in Columbia.

Lupo said many people bought beachfront property in hurricane territory during the last quiet spell. This means there is a greater chance for hurricane-related property damage during this active cycle.

— Jenn Fields

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