InsideClimate News: Hurricane Season 2018: Experts Warn of Super Storms, Call For New Category 6

June 2, 2018

Climate Center Adaptation Program Manager Jessica Grannis spoke to InsideClimate News about the importance of buidling resilience to severe storms, and other extreme events, by preparing for future climate risks.

InsideClimate News reports that as the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season begins, scientists are worried that U.S. coastal communities could face more super storms with winds, storm surges, and rainfall so intense that current warning categories don't fully capture the threat. This year's forecast is about average and much more subdued than last summer's hyperactive season turned out to be, partly due to cooler ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, as well as a nascent El Niño pattern. But that doesn't mean an individual storm won't blow up to exceptional strength.
The question is how to prepare, and in many parts of the U.S., existing disaster recovery programs are resulting in infrastructure being rebuilt in harm's way, without consideration of how global warming will intensify impacts, said Grannis. "There are bad recovery decisions being made," Grannis said, using the impacts of Hurricane Irene in Vermont as an example.
Flooding from the 2011 storm destroyed big sections of the state's road system by washing out old culverts designed for a climate that no longer exists. Recovery included plans for replacing the old drainage systems with new "bottomless" culverts that can handle much more water, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency "denied them the cost of those culverts," she said. "Disaster recovery programs push people into replacing old systems with the same thing." During the Obama administration, the federal government had started shifting policies to consider climate risks, but now we are "back in scenario of putting in things we know won't be adequate," she said.

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