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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Cyclone numbers 'average for year'

The Philippines typhoon was an exception in an average year for the storms (AP)
The Philippines typhoon was an exception in an average year for the storms (AP)

Apart from Typhoon Haiyan, which has devastated the Philippines, it has been an average year for tropical cyclones, according to the UN weather agency.

In its annual climate report The World Meteorological Organisation counted 86 tropical storms so far this year, just three short of the annual average since 1981. They were unevenly spread across the globe.

The Atlantic saw its quietest season since 1994 in terms of the intensity and duration of tropical storms, according to the report, which was released as UN climate talks continued in Warsaw. Of the 12 named storms only two - Humberto and Ingrid - reached hurricane strength. Both were Category 1 hurricanes, the lowest level.

The Western North Pacific, however, had recorded 30 storms by early November, above the annual average of 26. Thirteen of them were typhoons, including Haiyan, which struck the Philippines last week.

Storms that reach 74 mph are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the north west Pacific.

Typhoon Haiyan is one of the most powerful storms to make landfall anywhere, and it is feared to have killed thousands of people and affected more than nine million.

"Although individual tropical cyclones cannot be directly attributed to climate change, higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

The global sea level reached a record high in March this year, according to the report. Since satellite measurements began in 1993, seas have been rising annually by about 3.2 millimeters or just over one-tenth of an inch. Scientists believe it's a result of global warming.

The report also said 2013 is on track to become one of the top 10 hottest years on record. The first nine months of the year were about 0.48 C warmer than average, meaning 2013 so far is tied with 2003 as the seventh hottest year since the start of measurements in 1850, the WMO said.

The hottest year on record is 2010.

-AP

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