Here’s how climate change is intensifying hurricanes


Hurricane Ian made landfall on the west coast of Florida as a powerful Category 4 storm, with near-record winds of up to 155 mph. Officials said the storm wreaked havoc and “decimated” neighborhoods.

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Fiona, also a Category 4 storm, knocked out power across the country of Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Ian circles off the west coast of Florida in a satellite image taken at 9:26 a.m. ET, September 28, 2022.

GOES/NASA

Even though this year’s hurricane season got off to a calmer start than most, so far there have been nine named tropical storms, four of them upgraded to hurricanes, and last month only two reached major hurricane status, creating widespread damage across the Atlantic, according to NOAA data.

Scientists said the intensity of these storms will increase as the Earth’s climate warms, NOAA reported. Intensified hurricanes bring stronger winds, heavier rains and devastating storm surges, which means walls of water can swell up to 12 to 18 feet. As sea levels rise, devastating storm surges also increase.

The Gulf Coast — particularly Florida — is particularly vulnerable to storm surge, according to ABC News reporting.

PHOTO: A tree is uprooted by high winds as Hurricane Ian tracks south in Sarasota, Florida on September 28, 2022.

A tree is uprooted by high winds as Hurricane Ian tracks south in Sarasota, Florida on September 28, 2022.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

“The Gulf of Mexico waters just aren’t that deep, much of Florida’s coastal waters just offshore,” said Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist at Weather Tiger, a weather management and consulting firm. risks, to ABC News. “If there’s wind pushing the water in that direction, it’s shallow, it has nowhere to go. So it amplifies and goes further inland.”

More recently, Hurricane Ian broke Florida’s storm surge record as it moved onshore.

PHOTO: Technicians monitor Hurricane Ian inside the National Response Coordination Center at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, September 28, 2022, in Washington, DC, as the hurricane is heading towards the southwest coast of Florida.

Technicians monitor Hurricane Ian inside the National Response Coordination Center at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, September 28, 2022, in Washington, DC, as the hurricane rolls heads for the southwest coast of Florida.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Global warming not only causes sea levels to rise which increases the risk of coastal flooding, but also creates more humidity in the atmosphere which is more likely to cause more intense rainfall when hurricanes make landfall. , according to NASA researchers.

“In a hurricane, spiraling winds pull moist air toward the center, fueling the towering thunderstorms around it,” according to Dr. Angela Colbert for NASA’s Global Climate Change Initiative. “As the air continues to warm due to climate change, hurricanes can hold more water vapor, producing more intense precipitation rates during a storm.”

Hurricane Ian has since upgraded to a Category 3 storm since making landfall on Wednesday. It is expected to move away from northeast Florida before reappearing as a tropical storm hitting the Carolinas.

For people who live in hurricane-threatened areas, officials said the best thing to do is be prepared.

“If you plan ahead, you don’t have to panic,” Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson told ABC News of Hurricane Ian’s impact.

ABC News

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