Uncovering Prehistoric Hurricane Activity
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Category-1 hurricanes strike sufficiently often that one can
estimate their frequency by consulting the historical record. But
large, truly catastrophic hurricanes (Category 4 or 5) take place so
seldom that meteorologists cannot accurately gauge the likelihood
that such a storm will occur in any particular spot. One way around
this difficulty is to examine the geological record for evidence of
these devastating tropical storms. The author and his colleagues
have done so using sediment cores extracted from coastal lakes at
various places in the United States. Examination of this material
shows that the last millennium has been a relatively quiet time for
the Gulf coast and an especially active period for the Northeast.
Paleotempestologists are also examining other forms of evidence as
well in an effort to chart ancient storm activity for sites
throughout the world.