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Major Hurricane Season Ahead

So far, 2005 has set a new record for hurricane activity. Never before in recorded history have four tropical storms formed in the Atlantic so early in the hurricane season, and this is caused by global warming, which doesn't just heat things up?it increases extreme weather activity.

Tropical storm Dennis could hit Florida on Friday. Hurricane Cindy is already causing torrential rains in Louisiana. This is the earliest date on record for four Atlantic hurricanes to have hit. Arlene, the first hurricane of 2005, formed on June 8, which is unusual: in some years, there are no hurricanes at all in June. August and September are the busiest hurricane months. Meteorologists predict there will be twelve to fifteen tropical storms this year. Three to five of these could become major hurricanes, with wind speeds of 100 mph or more.

Warmer oceans and more moisture in the atmosphere are some of the things that lead to not only global warming, but to hurricane activity. Climatologist Kevin Trenberth says, "Trends in human-influenced environmental changes are now evident in hurricane regions. These changes are expected to affect hurricane intensity and rainfall."

Most hurricanes that strike the US coastline begin in the tropical North Atlantic, where sea-surface temperatures over the last decade have been the warmest on record. Water vapor over oceans worldwide has increased by about 2% since 1988. The warmer sea surface and moister atmosphere furnish potential energy for the showers and thunderstorms that fuel hurricanes.

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