With the news of the destruction from powerful Category 4 Hurricane Ida still ringing in our ears, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that hurricanes are becoming more frequent, more powerful and more destructive and to presume the warming climate is causing the changes. Based on actual scientific research, this is only partly so.

There is no evidence that hurricanes are more frequent. More complete news coverage probably makes it seem so, but the decadal pattern of up and down frequency of hurricanes appears unchanged. Likewise, it is not certain that the number of extreme, Category 4 and 5 storms is increasing. The dramatic increase in coastal population is likely a major contributor of increased damage. What has changed is the frequency with which hurricanes are able to rapidly intensify. Also, tropical storm systems are producing extreme rainfalls greater than 20 inches with increased regularity.

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