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Earl’s path along northeast is not well-worn
“It’s just a question of timing. It happens,” Emanuel said.
Warm water, especially more than 80 degrees, fuels hurricanes. As a storm heads north, usually the water is cooler and the hurricane quickly runs out of steam.
But not this time. This summer, the water off the East Coast is about 2 to 3 degrees warmer than normal, allowing Earl to stay stronger longer, said Timothy Schott, tropical cyclone program director at the National Weather Service in Silver Spring, Md.
With global warming, water is likely to be warmer farther north than it is was for the past century.
Computer models show that warmer waters will mean more storms pushing north and staying north, said Florida International University professor Hugh Willoughby, who used to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane research division.
However, the same changes in weather with global warming _ most likely not too apparent till at least after 2030 _ will also mean fewer Gulf of Mexico and Florida storms, Willoughby said. The changes would bring an increase in winds that dampen and prevent hurricanes.
Still, most of the northern storms will curve harmlessly away like Danielle did, said MIT’s Emanuel. But more storms increases the chances that one of those will smack the Northeast like the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.
Hurricanes by regions: http://bit.ly/b5S607
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