Extreme Weather

Are hurricanes becoming more frequent?

October 31, 2023

No, but they are getting more dangerous.

About 80 tropical cyclones form annually and that rate has held steady. However, researchers have high confidence that both the global average of tropical cyclone intensity and global proportion of very intense tropical cyclones (Category 4 or 5) will increase due to climate change.

A study that looked at tropical cyclones from 1971 to 2020 in the North Atlantic found that peak intensification rates have already increased as anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have warmed the planet. Additionally, the number of storms that become major hurricanes within 36 hours has more than doubled in the modern era relative to the historical era.

Key Takeaways

  1. 1.

    While hurricanes are not becoming more frequent, they are becoming more dangerous.

  2. 2.

    Due to climate change, hurricanes are intensifying quicker.

Additional Resource

American Geophysical Union: Hurricane Research