HURRICANESHurricanes Are Getting Stronger

By Alexander Freund and Zulfikar Abbany

Published 8 July 2024

Atlantic hurricane seasons have only been getting worse. Ocean warming is creating stronger tropical storms. Hurricane Beryl strengthened to Category 3 as it approached Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

Atlantic hurricane seasons have only been getting worse. 

In late May 2024, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted “an 85% chance of an above-normal” season. 

When Hurricane Beryl formed as the first of a five-month season, the NOAA called it an “explosive start.”

After Beryl had struck Jamaica, causing widespread destruction, it moved to Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. 

At the United Nations’ weather and climate agency (WMO), scientists said Beryl had set “an alarming precedent for what is expected to be a very active hurricane season.” The season officially runs from June 1 to November 30 — it’s a year-on-year threat in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific.

Anne-Claire Fontan, a scientific officer at the WMO’s tropical cyclone program, told the AFP news agency, that Beryl had developed into a category 5 storm very early in the season. “It’s really very unusual. Hurricane Beryl really broke records,” said Fontan.

But these are new records, because it was only in October 2023 that Hurricane Otis broke a few records of its own.

Hurricanes Are Intensifying Faster
Extreme weather researchers say hurricanes are getting stronger because of climate change.

Tropical cyclones gain most of their energy from the evaporative heat of the water vapor they pick up over the ocean.

With ocean surface temperatures rising, hurricanes are absorbing more water vapor faster, according to an analysis recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.