By Jason Samenow
20 April 2016
(Washington Post) – In the past six months, the Earth has witnessed several of the freakiest, most intense storms in recorded history.
Spurred by the highest ocean temperatures observed to date, record-breaking tropical cyclones — the class of storms that includes hurricanes and typhoons — have explosively developed in three regions: the northeast Pacific Ocean, the south Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
These storms may be a harbinger of increasingly severe tropical cyclones in future decades as the Earth continues warming.
The most recent vicious storm, Tropical Cyclone Fantala, attained peak winds of 173 mph north of Madagascar this past weekend. According to meteorologist Bob Henson at Weather Underground, it became the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Indian Ocean. Fantala has since lost some steam and is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm over the southern Indian Ocean by early next week. Fortunately, it has avoided any land areas.
Just two months before Fantala, Tropical Cyclone Winston became the fiercest storm on record in the South Pacific, with peak winds of 185 mph. This storm devastated parts of Fiji.
And four months before Winston, Hurricane Patricia (October 2015) became the strongest storm measured to date by the National Hurricane Center in the Northeast Pacific. Its peak winds reached 215 mph before it slammed into Mexico’s west coast.
Patricia was just one of 25 Category 4 or 5 tropical cyclones in 2015 in the Northern Hemisphere, the most on record by far. [more]