Over a massive region of southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina, Florence produced an extraordinary rainstorm that statistically has a 1-in-100 chance of occurring each year. Over substantial areas, the deluge had a 0.1 percent chance of happening, what is known as a 1,000-year event.
But these exceptional rainfall events keep happening and appear to be part of a trend toward more extreme tropical rainmakers, probably connected to climate change.
Since August 2017, two other hurricanes besides Florence have set rainfall records for tropical weather systems in four US states:
– First came Harvey, which dumped an unheard-of five feet of rain in Texas last August. No storm in recorded history had produced so much water in the United States.
-Then came Lane in August, which bombarded the Big Island with more than 50 inches, becoming Hawaii’s rainiest tropical storm.
– Florence’s rainfall in North Carolina was the most for any tropical weather system north of Florida along the East Coast on record, and fourth most for any state.
Records like these may only be the beginning as Earth continues to warm. Recently published research has shown hurricanes are slowing down, taking in more water and growing bigger.