New models predict epic “grey swan” hurricanes

An alarming new study shows that certain coastal cities face a heightened risk of experiencing a 10,000-year hurricane, which many scientists are now calling “gray swans.”

The United States and friends all around the world remembered the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans last week, a solemn reminder of the destruction that can be brought by a storm. Things aren’t looking up for hurricane season. According to a report from the Washington Post, a new study from MIT climatologists shows exactly which cities face the highest risk of a destructive hurricane.

According to models in the study, Tampa, Florida, Cairns, Australia, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates could experience a storm stronger than any other hurricane witnessed in recent history. The climate scientists involved in the study, however, stress that the odds of a storm wiping out a coastal city are low. Elevation, drainage, and proximity to open ocean are all factors that could influence the level of damage caused by a hurricane.

Since the chances of a storm occurring that is destructive enough to damage large amounts of coastal property are low, the researchers have named the possible storms “gray swans.” The name refers to a “black swan” event, one so rare and unexpected that it can change the world in unexpected ways. The researchers say the storms that they are modeling are the type that only happen once every 10,000 years.

It may be a long time before a storm ever wipes Tampa off the map, but the study was intended to raise awareness of present hurricane safety methods and strategies that can reduce damage from coastal flooding and storm surges.

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