A shift in the climate has taken place that has brought about an increase in major hurricanes. The period of heightened activity could last for decades, and unleash a catastrophic storm anywhere along the U.S. coast from Texas to Maine.

Since the climate shift began six years ago, the number of hurricanes that have formed in the Atlantic basin has doubled, said scientists at the U.S. Hurricane Research Division.

Major hurricanes, which produce winds in excess of 110 miles an hour, have also increased during the period by 250 percent, and the increased activity will continue for the next ten to 40 years, which could mean trouble for the United States.

?Most seasons we are going to get a hurricane hit the U.S. and probably more than half the time we will have a major hurricane hitting the U.S. as well,? says meteorologist Chris Landsea. The United States has simply been lucky so far, scientists warn.

?With the increased number, if it starts pounding the U.S., as we feel like it is going to happen, there?s bound to be a major city impacted and we could be talking about a real disaster of epic proportions on our hands,? says hurricane meteorologist Stanly Goldenberg.

Landsea agrees and says that a hurricane causing $50 billion in damage and hundreds to thousands of deaths is quite possible in the next ten or 20 years. ?I think at this point the U.S. is so developed and there?s so many people along the coast that just about anywhere is a major disaster ready to happen.?

Scientists say the Earth?s climate goes through cycles, but they don’t know why. Right now, Atlantic water temperatures are warmer than usual, although by just half a degree Fahrenheit. And in general, there is less wind.

The current conditions resemble those in 1900 when Galveston, Texas, was nearly destroyed by a hurricane, as well as the 1920s and 1960s when hurricanes repeatedly slammed into Florida and a hurricane hit New York.

The period from 1965 to 1995 saw opposite conditions, with cooler water and more wind, neither of which fosters hurricane development.

Storms form when warm surface air rises and collides with cold air at high altitudes. Because the average temperature of the atmosphere above the stratosphere has been dropping due to the fact that the surface air mass is retaining more heat, the possiblity exists that very warm surface air will come into contact with very cold air at altitude, forming storms that will be of unprecedented intensity.

Because the stratosphere has also been getting w

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