Political News

Fact check: Pence says there are no more hurricanes now than 100 years ago

Posted October 8, 2020 11:19 a.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2020 11:30 a.m. EDT

— Asked if the human-caused climate crisis made wildfires bigger and hurricanes wetter, slower and more damaging, Pence did not answer the question directly. Instead, he claimed that, "with regard to hurricanes, the National Oceanic Administration tells us that actually, and as difficult as they are, there are no more hurricanes today than there were 100 years ago."

Facts First: This needs context. Mike Pence is correct, based on the limited data we have on storms from that time period. The number of hurricanes generally are about the same as they were 100 years ago, according to historical records.

However, scientists also believe hurricanes today are becoming stronger and potentially more deadly as the planet warms due to the climate crisis, according to a 2020 study from the US government's own researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The scientists also said the data did not go back far enough for them to definitively link the strength of storms to human-induced global warming.

Researchers have found that the probability of storms reaching major hurricane status has increased decade after decade.

Hurricane Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. To be a "named storm" winds must reach at least 39 mph. Delta will be the 10th named storm to make landfall this year in the continental US -- the most in one year after 1916, which saw nine landfalls.

The stronger storms are largely due to the rapidly warming of the oceans, which scientists believe have likely warmed due to the climate crisis.

A warmer ocean causes sea levels to rise, bringing problems like dangerous coastal flooding. It leads to the loss of sea ice, heating the waters as the reflective ice layer disappears. With slower storms there is also more flooding and with the warmer air caused by global warming, there is more water vapor that leads to more rainfall and flooding.

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