A fast storm can distribute its water across a wider surface area, decreasing the chance of extreme flooding.
Looking at data since 1949, a government climate scientist calculates that storms in the last few years are moving about 10 percent slower globally than they were 60 years ago.
The unusually slow-moving Hurricane Harvey was a recent example. Slowdowns over land were higher in some regions (a 20 percent slowdown over land for Atlantic storms, a 30 percent slowdown over land for western North Pacific storms and a 19 percent slowdown over land for storms affecting the Australian region).
According to the study by Dr Jim Kossin from the National Centers for Environmental Information, tropical cyclones have slowed in both hemispheres and in every ocean basin except the Northern Indian Ocean.
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Kossin published his findings Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Experts believe that continued global warming will increase the severity of tropical storms, but they also believe this anthropogenic warming will increase rainfall.
That's the real risk of a slower storm.
Harvey dumped 60.58 inches of rain in Nederland, Texas, from August 24 to September 1.
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Unhurried hurricanes also mean strong winds blowing more often over the same place and possibly more storm surge, Kossin said.
Christina Patricola, a scientist with the climate and ecosystem sciences division of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, called Kossin's work "important and new" and says she found it "pretty convincing".
But there are probably more variables at play than a warmer climate putting the brakes on tropical cyclones. Instead, it means the tracks of the storms have slowed, allowing them to hover in one location for longer periods of time. So it isn't clear just how much of the change that Kossin found is actually attributable to human-induced climate change.
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