Strong Association Between West African Rainfall and U.S. Landfall of Intense Hurricanes

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Science  14 Sep 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4974, pp. 1251-1256
DOI: 10.1126/science.249.4974.1251


Intense hurricanes occurred much more frequently during the period spanning the late 1940s through the late 1960s than during the 1970s and 1980s, except for 1988 and 1989. Seasonal and multidecadal variations of intense hurricane activity are closely linked to seasonal and multidecadal variations of summer rainfall amounts in the Western Sahel region of West Africa. The multidecadal nature of West African precipitation variations and their association with variations of intense Atlantic hurricane activity can be observed in data going back nearly a century. The apparent recent breaking of the 18-year Sahel drought during 1988 and 1989 suggests that the incidence of intense hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. coast and in the Caribbean basin will likely increase during the 1990s and early years of the 21st century to levels of activity notably greater than were observed during the 1970s and 1980s.

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