The summer of 2004 seemed like a major wake-up call: an unprecedented four hurricanes
hit Florida, and 10 typhoons made landfall in Japan—four more than the previous record in that region. Daunted, scientists offered conflicting explanations for the increase in these tropical cyclones and were especially divided about the role of global warming in the upsurge. Then Mother Nature unleashed a record-breaking 2005 season in the North Atlantic, capped by the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But in 2006, as insurance rates in the southeastern U.S. soared, the number of North Atlantic storms dropped well below predictions. If global warming was playing a role, why was the season so quiet?