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Global climate change

Increased risk for more intense hurricanes along the U.S. East Coast late this century

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
6/11/2019, 9:34:21 AM

New research suggests that the continued, steady increase of greenhouse gas emissions may increase the risk of rapidly strengthening tropical storms and hurricanes along the East coast of the United States by the final decades of the 21st century.

New computer model simulations show strong consensus that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions (based on the the business-as-usual scenario) will lead to a decrease in vertical wind shear off the U.S. East Coast.

Strong vertical wind shear can significantly inhibit the development of hurricanes by causing the tops of thunderstorms to be blown away from the center of the storm and thus exposing the low-level center.

The NOAA map below shows the projected changes in vertical wind shear for the 2070-2099 time period compared to 1971-2000. The blue areas show where the vertical wind shear is expected to be reduced by late this century.

The combination of reduced vertical wind shear and further warming of the ocean waters would create an environment that is much more favorable for rapid intensification and a higher probability for major hurricanes reaching farther north than what they typically do today.

In addition, rising sea levels along the East coast will lead to even higher storm surges that penetrate farther inland along the coast.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Global climate change