WASHINGTON, D.C. — Like clockwork, every year, hurricanes become a part of life in the Atlantic basin.
Already this year, tropical storm Ana formed in May, marking the seventh year in a row the season produced a named storm, before the official start of hurricane season.
So, is it time to extend the season?
“We're still trying to figure out if it is a trend and what could be behind it,” said Falko Judt, a research meteorologist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
He said there may be several reasons behind the increase in named May storms.
“One reason is that our technology has gotten better, so we're detecting more systems. Another reason is that we've gotten a little bit more lenient in naming storms,” Judt said. “And the third reason is there actually is a trend that could be related to climate change.”
Climate change is also something that Susan Lozier said bears responsibility. She is an oceanographer and president of the American Geophysical Union, a nonprofit that studies earth sciences.
“The major factor is the warming of our planet and, in this case, particularly the warming of the ocean,” she said.
Lozier said a warming planet isn’t just impacting hurricane season in the East, but also wildfire season in the West.
“We've had extreme events way before we had global warming, but it's just the frequency of them,” Lozier explained. “Also, changes in precipitation patterns that bring extended droughts. Those events, those extreme events, impact the fire season or the frequency of fires.”
Already this year, a severe drought is gripping the West, prompting fears of a potential record-breaking and earlier fire season. Back East, the question of whether hurricane season needs to start earlier remains.
“It's really for us humans to be ready,” Judt said. “And so, if we extend that window, it kind of dilutes the process.”
Most storms that form in May in the Atlantic Basin, never impact land.
“Really, I think the over the more important message is for people in the coastlines to always be prepared,” Lozier said.
It’s a reminder to be ready for what Mother Nature can potentially bring.