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Science File | In Brief

Number of Hurricanes Could Be on the Rise

July 23, 2001

The next 10 to 40 years could be filled with damaging Atlantic hurricanes packing winds of 100 miles per hour or more, according to a new analysis of weather data.

The analysis, published in the journal Science, suggests that ocean and air conditions that spawn strong hurricanes occur in 15- to 40-year cycles. The period from 1971 to 1994 was a relatively calm one, with cooler waters and strong winds that disrupted the cyclones that build during storms.

Since 1995, the waters have been warming, providing more energy to fuel tropical storms. And storms have occurred at twice the rate they did previously. Researchers at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Miami who led the study said they are concerned because many Atlantic coastlines have become densely populated.

Other researchers questioned the study, noting that there may not be enough years of data available to predict long-term trends.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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