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Hurricanes stay stronger longer after landfall than in past

Hurricanes are keeping their staying power longer once they make landfall, spreading more inland destruction, according to a new study.
Warmer ocean waters from climate change are likely making hurricanes lose power more slowly after landfall, because they act as a reserve fuel tank for moisture, the study found. With Eta threatening Florida and the Gulf Coast in a few days, the study’s lead author warned of more damage away from the coast than in the past.
The new study looked at 71 Atlantic hurricanes with landfalls since 1967. It found that in the 1960s, hurricanes declined two-thirds in wind strength within 17 hours of landfall. But now it generally takes 33 hours for storms to weaken that same degree, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature.
“This is a huge increase,” study author Pinaki Chakraborty, a professor of fluid dynamics at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan. “There’s been a huge slowdown in the decay of hurricanes.”
Hurricane Florence, which in 2018 caused $24 billion in damage, took nearly 50 hours to decay by nearly two-thirds after making landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, Chakraborty said. Hurricane Hermine in 2016 took more than three days to lose that much power after hitting Florida’s Apalachee Bay.
As the world warms from human-caused climate change, inland cities like Atlanta should see more damage from future storms that just won’t quit, Chakraborty said.
“If their conclusions are sound, which they seem to be, then at least in the Atlantic, one could argue that insurance rates need to start going up and building codes need to be improved … to compensate for this additional wind and water destructive power reaching farther inland,” said University of Miami hurricane…
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