AUSTIN (KXAN) — The 2023 hurricane season is approaching. The Eastern Pacific’s season starts May 15. For the Atlantic, which includes the Caribbean and the Gulf, the tropical season commences on June 1.

Studies show that climate change is affecting hurricanes by making them more intense. Experts have also reported that hurricanes are traveling a little slower leading to an increase in the amount of rain that accumulates.

Experts will be making their predictions coming up on how many named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes will occur. Their research will include taking a look at water temperatures along with sea levels. And, this includes the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf has seen an increase in the sea level of about one-half inch each year since 2010. This rise extends from the western Gulf to the North Carolina coast in the western Atlantic. Researchers suggested this is due to both man-made and natural factors.

Things like burning coal and oil and cutting down tropical forests have led to the planet’s warming by 1.4°F since 1880.

Sea level rises in the Gulf lead to more intense hurricanes

This should be alarming news for the entire Texas coast inland. The increase in sea levels means hurricanes will be more intense. As the hurricanes do see that increase in intensity so, too, will there be an increase in the storm surge. Storm surge is a change in the water level from a storm. The storm surge is often above that of the predicted astronomical tide and leads to extraordinary flooding in coastal communities.

A 12-foot high sand barrier was washed away when Hurricane Ike hit the barrier island.
Courtesy: Getty Images

The study also concluded the Gulf of Mexico sea level increases “have been three times higher than the global average”. The conclusion was reached by looking at satellite images and field measurements going back many years.

Fortifying the coast by building barriers is something that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been planning for since the U.S. Senate voted to authorize such a project in Galveston.

It’s called the Ike Dike Coastal Spine, a coastal barrier that would protect the Galveston-Houston region from such a storm surge. It’s a lengthy project that will take as long as 18 years to complete. It is part of a much larger coastal project that includes other coastal infrastructure from artificial barriers to dune restoration.

A project to protect the upper Texas coast

Named for the hurricane that struck Galveston Island on Saturday, September 13, 2008 (with Category 2 winds of 110 mph sustained), the Ike Dike gate portion of the project would cover a two-mile span from Galveston Island to the Bolivar Peninsula.