Skip to main content

Zombie storms are rising from the dead thanks to climate change

Potential tropical storm Paulette captured on Sept. 23. after it returned from the dead.
Post tropical storm Paulette captured on Sept. 23. after it returned from the dead.
(Image: © NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-East Band 13)

Wildfires are burning the West Coast, hurricanes are flooding the Southeast — and some of those storms are rising from the dead. 

"Zombie storms," which regain strength after initially petering out, are the newest addition to the year 2020. And these undead weather anomalies are becoming more common thanks to climate change.

"Because 2020, we now have Zombie Tropical Storms. Welcome back to the land of the living, Tropical Storm #Paulette," the National Weather Service wrote on Twitter on Tuesday (Sept. 22).

Earlier this month, Tropical storm Paulette formed in the Atlantic Ocean and made landfall in Bermuda as a Category 1 hurricane, according to CNN. It then strengthened over land into a Category 2 hurricane, before weakening and dying off five and half days later. 

Related: The reality of climate change: 10 myths busted

But then, Paulette opened her frightening eye once again. She wasn't gone. 

Paulette regained strength and became a tropical storm once more about 300 miles (480 kilometers) away from the Azores Islands on Monday (Sept. 21), according to CNN. The term "zombie storm" is new, and though the phenomenon has been recorded before, it is thought to be rare. 

But zombie storms are going to happen more often, said Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And as with other natural disasters that have been intensifying in recent years, such as wildfires and hurricanes, climate change and rapid global warming are to blame. 

There has been an "extreme amount of heating of the Gulf (of Mexico), particularly in some of the ocean areas off of the Carribean," Wuebbles told Live Science. The Gulf of Mexico, where many hurricanes gain strength before hitting the U.S., is particularly vulnerable to global warming because the gulf waters are very shallow — and thus heat up easily, Wuebbles said.

Atlantic Ocean storms typically form in warmer parts of the ocean near Africa, due to a combination of atmospheric and ocean conditions. They then "race across" the ocean toward the Americas, Wuebbles said. Hurricanes need warm water and moist air to form, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Storms grow if there's a continuous supply of energy from warm water and air, and they weaken when they move over cooler waters or over land.

"If they're not so strong, in the past, they would just die out," over the Atlantic, Wuebbles said. But now, they reach warm water in the Carribean region and pick up energy again, he added. This is also true for storms that haven't died out yet. For instance, about a month ago, Hurricane Laura strengthened overnight from a Category 1 storm to a Category 4 storm because it picked up energy from warm water in the Gulf, Wuebbles said. 

With a warming globe, "storms are likely to become more intense," he added. That means the idea of "zombie storms" may be here to stay. 

Thankfully Paulette seems to have become a post-tropical cyclone once more and will die out soon, according to the National Hurricane Center

Originally published on Live Science.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

  • Lovethrust
    Maybe but...
    We have less than 40 years of wx satellite data.
    No mention of how they arrived at this conclusion. What was their source of data?
    You won’t get funding if you don’t say there is a link.
    I don’t doubt the climate is changing but there are too many weak or baseless claims always coming out.
    Reply
  • Ken Fabian
    Lovethrust said:
    Maybe but...
    We have less than 40 years of wx satellite data.
    No mention of how they arrived at this conclusion. What was their source of data?
    You won’t get funding if you don’t say there is a link.
    I don’t doubt the climate is changing but there are too many weak or baseless claims always coming out.
    If you preferentially get your information about climate change from leading science institutions rather than filtered through media you will find fewer baseless claims and better coverage of the numerous well based claims. We observe - a strong trend of surface temperature warming, ocean heat content rise, ice sheet loss... every indicator that could and should shows clear evidence of global warming. If tropical storms are showing indications of change - of being more likely to rebuild in strength and persist longer, that is worth investigation.

    "No link, no funding" is, in my view, a baseless claim - and deeply insulting to all the scientists who work professionally, in good faith. It is because global warming is shown to be true that widening the scope of science based investigations into what that will mean is legitimate and worthwhile focus of ongoing research. Withdrawing support and funding in the face of such overwhelming evidence that we have a problem looks like an attempt to make it "no funding = no science supporting a link".
    Reply
  • Truthseeker007
    Admin said:
    Wildfires are burning the West Coast, hurricanes are flooding the Southeast — and some of those storms are rising from the dead.

    Zombie storms are rising from the dead thanks to climate change : Read more

    I think it is a multiple array of things like for starters Geoengineering and Marxist.
    160576183View: https://vimeo.com/160576183
    156020957View: https://vimeo.com/156020957


    “Global warming is a sham, perpetuated by a network of dirty government officials, greedy corporations, and bought-off scientific organizations.”
    John Casey
    Climate Consultant – NASA/NOAA

    There is also the little known fact of Milankovitch cycles.
    https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2948/milankovitch-orbital-cycles-and-their-role-in-earths-climate/
    The utter contempt for actual historical science vs. political and corporate weaponization of climate for monetary plunder is astounding. The lies we are expected to believe defy logic, yet it has been repeated ad nauseum until the uninformed accept it as truth.
    Dr. Sal Martingano, FICPA
    Reply
  • Truthseeker007
    Ken Fabian said:
    If you preferentially get your information about climate change from leading science institutions rather than filtered through media you will find fewer baseless claims and better coverage of the numerous well based claims. We observe - a strong trend of surface temperature warming, ocean heat content rise, ice sheet loss... every indicator that could and should shows clear evidence of global warming. If tropical storms are showing indications of change - of being more likely to rebuild in strength and persist longer, that is worth investigation.

    "No link, no funding" is, in my view, a baseless claim - and deeply insulting to all the scientists who work professionally, in good faith. It is because global warming is shown to be true that widening the scope of science based investigations into what that will mean is legitimate and worthwhile focus of ongoing research. Withdrawing support and funding in the face of such overwhelming evidence that we have a problem looks like an attempt to make it "no funding = no science supporting a link".
    Lovethrust said:
    Maybe but...
    We have less than 40 years of wx satellite data.
    No mention of how they arrived at this conclusion. What was their source of data?
    You won’t get funding if you don’t say there is a link.
    I don’t doubt the climate is changing but there are too many weak or baseless claims always coming out.

    353573665View: https://vimeo.com/353573665
    Reply