Science

How climate change is helping hurricanes like Hurricane Ian to intensify more quickly

As Hurricane Ian moved toward Florida, it experienced a phenomenon known as rapid intensification—very strong, very strong. Scientists say that the process storm getting faster and faster more frequentand the effects of human-caused climate change.

Tuesday morning Hurricane Ian a chief. fast in grade 3 The storm was packing winds of about 125 mph before hitting western Cuba. The storm was expected to strengthen as it passed over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico en route to the west coast of Florida. Some forecasters warned Ian was approaching Category 4 with strong winds of about 140 mph before making landfall in Florida on Wednesday.

What is intense intensity?

According to the US National Hurricane Center, an intensification is defined by meteorologists as an increase in a tropical cyclone’s maximum sustained winds of at least 30 knots (about 35 mph) over a 24-hour period.

Dr. Richard Nabb, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, told CBS News that Hurricane Ian has experienced twice the intensity since Sunday.

Hurricane Ian hits western Cuba
Strong winds and heavy rain affect the countryside following the arrival of Hurricane Ian, in Consulación del Sur, Cuba, in Pinar del Río Province on September 27, 2022.

Stringer / Reuters


“Rapid intensification occurs when a tropical cyclone that already has some organization moves within an atmospheric environment of very warm water and cool ambient conditions and a moist, unstable air mass,” Nabb said. “All of these factors were clearly at play prior to Ian’s rapid intensification, which is why the rapid intensification was predicted significantly in advance. Not every storm that encounters these conditions is strong, sometimes due to internal structural changes. Cause that’s hard to guess, but Ian did.”

He added that Hurricane Ian’s higher intensity was anticipated for several days as forecasters have become more efficient in recent years, but it still remains a challenging forecasting problem.

“Historically, rapid intensity has been difficult to predict, and it is particularly problematic when it occurs just before landfall,” Nabb said. “Watches and warnings for various hurricane hazards — winds, storm surge and inland flooding — account for the likelihood that a storm will be stronger than forecast.”

What are the signs of an uptick in Hurricane Ian?

Knabb tells CBS News that Hurricane Ian packed two days’ worth of rapid intensity in less than 36 hours, as it progressed from a 45 mph tropical storm on Sunday evening to a 115 mph category early Tuesday. 3 Went into the storm.

And that’s not all: The storm is forecast to strengthen further off the west coast of the Florida peninsula because the strong upper level winds that normally weaken the storm are not expected to affect it in time.

“Ian has unfortunately taken advantage of warmer-than-average waters over the northwestern Caribbean and southeastern Gulf of Mexico to rapidly intensify during the past few days,” Nabb said. “The wind scale now uses both hurricane hunter aircraft and satellite imagery to determine the intensity of a major hurricane.”

What role does climate change play in intensity?

Experts from NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, point out that climate change is a factor in hurricane intensity because warmer seawater fuels tropical Storm,

“Warming sea surface temperatures are playing a role, as they provide fuel for hurricanes, which also depend on a moist and unstable environment – ​​all of which are more conducive to strengthening storms in our changing climate. are happening,” Nabb said. “The storms appear to be getting a little stronger than before, and they appear to be intensifying somewhat more often at a faster rate. We’re not seeing more tropical storms and hurricanes overall, but the proportion of storms that get bigger. And that peak seems to be getting a little stronger which is growing.”

Climate change is also contributing to hurricanes move more slowlyincrease in duration of winds, increase of storms and Rain Which leads to flooding near the coast as well as inland.

“This has resulted in the impact of large waters in recent tropical storms and hurricanes, even with a major hurricane — Category 3 or stronger — on the wind scale,” Naab said. “Furthermore, sea level rise will only continue to increase the magnitude and inland extent of flooding already due to storm surge, when salt water is pushed from the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean to normally dry land. “

Knubb says Hurricane Ian is a prime example of a dangerous slow-moving storm that can cause damaging winds for up to two days in some places, and rain-induced flooding with storm surge in coastal areas for many people. can force them out of their homes.

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