Changes in environment cause storms

This year hurricane Katrina and Rita shocked those living off the Gulf of Mexico.

Since 2004, hurricanes have rocked the southeast region of the United States.

Last year hurricanes slammed Florida: Charley a category four, Frances a category two, Ivan a category four and Jeanne a category three-all storms hitting within weeks of the other.

The dramatic increase in strong hurricanes this season has shocked many Americans, leaving some to question what has brought the change.

“The Atlantic Basin for the last 10 years has experienced above normal water temperatures,” said John Fournier a Forecaster at the National Weather

Service located on Florida State University’s campus.

A hurricane is caused by tropical waves and disturbances and must be 5 to 10 degrees above the equator in order to rotate.

Warmer waters help create stronger hurricanes and water’s ability to hold heat is higher than solids, which explains why hurricanes decrease in power upon hitting land.

“The temperature of the Atlantic Basin increases and decreases in a cycle of decades,” Fournier explained. It is called multi-decadal oscillation.

Fournier said1995 though 2005 has been an active decade.

Fournier doesn’t believe global warning has an effect on hurricanes and more research should be done to prove that the hole in the ozone layer has increased the number of hurricanes.

Nancy Dignon, Chief meteorologist at WTXL agrees with Fournier.

“If global warming were responsible, then we would have more hurricanes globally. And we haven’t seen that,” Dignon said.

In contrast, William Tucker a physics professor at Florida A&M University believes global warming affects the increase in strength of hurricanes.

“The green house effect occurs when we put carbon dioxide into the air. We put pollution in the air causing it to increase, that’s a factor,” Tucker said.

The hurricane of Galveston, Texas, the deadliest in U.S. history, occurred in1900 and was the last time a storm as big and powerful as Rita hit the nation.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the storm killed over 8,000 people with winds of 130 mph and 15 feet waves.

After Katrina and Rita many Florida residents cannot recall any recent hurricanes with tremendous strength except for Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

“To have two Andrews in a year is unheard of,” Tucker said.

Andrew is the most well-known hurricane at the beginning of the active cycle. Andrew, a category four, trampled south Florida accumulating $25 billion in damages.

Davarius Sharpe, 20, a third year pharmacy student from Miami, said he still remembers Andrew.

“I stayed in Richmond Heights. My mama’s car had branches in it like the hurricane was playing darts,” Sharpe said of the past storm.

Some students are concerned whether next year will be the same. According to the experts this cycle has a couple more years to cause damage.

“I think we will have a couple more active seasons,” Dignon said. “After a couple more years we will have peaceful seasons.”

Fournier said every year will not be like this year.

He offered advice concerning the future of active hurricane seasons.

People should assume the possibility that they may be affected by a hurricane and everyone should own a hurricane kit in his or her home.

According to the NOAA the kit should consist of water, food, flashlights and batteries.

It is also important for people to review insurance policies and make sure flooding is covered. College students should be prepared to go home and if that is not an option be prepared to get information from school officials about shelters. Above all Fournier said people should remove the mentality that it “can’t happen to me.”

Contact A’sia Horne-Smith at