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Title:Warming climate makes extreme hurricane rains more likely for Puerto Rico

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Get the latest hurricane news, analysis, and unique perspectives from Yale Climate Connections meteorologists Jeff Masters, Ph.D., and Bob Henson.

Yale Climate Connections

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria hit the southeast coast of Puerto Rico as a category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds, making it the strongest hurricane to make landfall on the island since 1928. Maria dumped up to 37.90 inches (962.7 mm) of rain, resulting in unprecedented flooding and mudslides. One study estimated the excess death toll at close to 5,000 (Kishore et al., 2018), whereas an independent assessment produced by George Washington University and the University of Puerto Rico calculated what would become the official excess death toll as 2,975. Both studies had large uncertainty ranges.

A 2019 study by Keellings and Ayala, Extreme Rainfall Associated With Hurricane Maria Over Puerto Rico and Its Connections to Climate Variability and Change, concluded that Hurricane Maria brought the largest maximum rainfall event of any of the 129 tropical cyclones to pass within 500 km of the island between 1956 and 2017 (Figure 1), and also the greatest island-averaged rainfall event (not shown).

Tropical cyclones (and precursors) with the largest single-location storm-total rainfall amounts observed in Puerto Rico history (according to NOAA):

41.68” (1058.7 mm) Tropical Depression 19, 197037.90” (962.7 mm) Hurricane Maria, 201734.12” (868.7 mm) Hurricane Fiona, 202233.29” (845.6 mm) Tropical Depression Eloise, 197531.67” (804.4 mm) Tropical wave that became Tropical Storm Isabel, 198530.51” (775.0 mm) Hurricane Georges, 1998

Here's a loop of the 5-day rainfall accumulation in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Fiona, which brought persistent heavy rain & wind to the Caribbean island, resulting in catastrophic flooding and damage. The average was 15.8 inches, with the max...

Organization:Yale Climate Connections - Weather
Date Added:9/23/2022 6:38:55 AM