Researchers predict above-average Atlantic hurricane season

Researchers predict above-average Atlantic hurricane season
Researchers predict above-average Atlantic hurricane season(North Carolina Coastal Federation / WITN)
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 3:13 PM EDT
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N.C. (WITN) - The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is less than a month away and researchers predict it will be yet another above-average season.

Scientists say new climate change data shows more areas need to become resilient against projected stronger, wetter, and slower-moving storms.

“This hurricane season is expected to be another active one,” Dr. Rick Luettich, UNC Institute for Marine Sciences director said.

Scientists say the dangerous effects of hurricanes are not just coastal concerns anymore. Rather, the entire state needs to address the changing climate that will ultimately bring more intense impacts from storms.

“It’s a community effort, it’s a statewide effort. We may be spatially distant from inland but we are all connected within these watersheds,” Dr. Chris Baillie, Eastern North Carolina Sentinel Landscape resilience and climate adaptation coordinator said.

But how do we better equip our state to deal with these storms? The coast already has some protections in place, like sand dunes, barrier islands, living shorelines, and salt marshes.

Experts say salt marshes often go unnoticed in their ability to act as speed bumps and slow down large storm surges and waves that hurricanes can bring.

Our forests and inland wetlands also play a critical role in fighting the elements.

“When we see hurricanes like Florence that aren’t a glancing blow, the ones that dump tens to up to 30 inches of rain, as it sat as a system over our coast,” Baillie said. “That is where our natural lands, particularly our wetlands, are so important, so an acre of wetland can store up to 330,000 gallons of water.”

Governments are looking at how they can implement resiliency strategies now and in the future.

“People are moving to coastal North Carolina all the time and so more people [and] worse storms create a potential for a problem if we can’t figure out ways to be resilient and if we can’t figure out ways to live with these storms,” Luettich said.

Being more resilient to storms isn’t just something governments can do. Adding a rain barrel or creating a rain garden can dramatically reduce flooding and the amount of stormwater runoff in your own yard and neighborhood.

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