Hurricane Ian quickly becomes annoying, turbocharged by hot water – Victoria News

Hurricane Ian is rapidly gaining monstrous strength as it moves across oceans that have been warmed in part by climate change, as have 30 other Atlantic tropical storms since 2017 that became much more powerful in less than a day.

This turbocharging of storms is likely to become even more frequent as the world warms, scientists say.

After gaining 67% strength in less than 22 hours Monday to Tuesday, Ian is headed down as a likely Category 4 hurricane that threatens to trigger a nightmarish storm surge in the Tampa Bay and southwest Florida regions.

Ian’s rapid intensification occurred after it traveled over Caribbean waters that are about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal, due in large part to climate change. Hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University said the warm water “creates a lot more rocket fuel for the storm.”

Climate change has different effects. The buildup of heat-trapping gases from fossil fuel combustion makes storms slower and wetter. It exacerbates deadly storm surges from sea level rise, exacerbates freshwater flooding and increases the proportion of monstrous Category 4 and 5 storms like Fiona last week, several studies show.

The current hurricane season was unusually mild until about a week ago due to dry air in the Atlantic. But while storms aren’t necessarily more frequent, they’re getting worse because of global warming, experts say.

“In terms of impacts and climate change, yes, this season could be a harbinger of things to come,” said University of Albany hurricane scientist Kristen Corbosiero. “But it’s really hard to say that climate change has an impact on a single storm in terms of its formation or its individual intensity.”

The National Hurricane Center defines rapidly intensifying storms as storms that reach at least 35 mph in wind speed in less than 24 hours. Sudden changes can cause major problems for forecasters and emergency planners trying to help residents get out of danger.

In Ian’s case, meteorological conditions were so clear that forecasters warned about them days in advance.

While hurricane seasons fluctuate from year to year, looking at 10-year intervals, there are now about 25% faster intensifying storms in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific than 40 years ago, according to an analysis of data from the National Hurricane Center by The Associated Press. From 2017 to 2021, there were 30 rapidly intensifying storms in the Atlantic and 32 in the Eastern Pacific.

“That’s a staggering statistic,” said Jim Kossin, a former climate and hurricane scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, now with the private Climate Service, a risk analysis firm. “What used to be a very, very rare event has clearly not been rare lately.”

A new, yet-to-be-published study in a peer-reviewed journal shows that near-coastal hurricanes — a danger to humans — are intensifying storms faster than ever before, said Karthik Balaguru, a climate scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Lab who studies the study conducted. “It’s more likely because of climate change,” he said.

As the water warms at ever-deeper levels, the rapid intensification of tropical storms will only accelerate.

“We’ll turn up the burner on a stove,” Kossin said.

More powerful hurricanes hold more moisture, making them more explosive in the form of torrential rains and storm surges, experts say.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, research also shows that storms now tend to move more slowly, allowing them to dump more rain in one place, like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which devastated parts of Louisiana and Texas.

While Ian is expected to slow down near the Florida coast and dump massive amounts of rain, he is not expected to get close to Harvey’s level of more than 50 inches.

As storms increase faster and more frequently, forecasters and emergency planners have less time to help communities prepare for the worst.

Jefferson Parish, a region of 430,000 people west of New Orleans, was hit by Hurricane Ida last year. Winds from that storm went from 80 mph (130 kilometers per hour) to nearly 140 mph (220 kilometers per hour) in 24 hours, leaving little time to evacuate residents.

“Time to prepare for a storm is your full ally,” said Joseph Valiente, the director of emergency management for Jefferson Parish.

Evacuating people before major storms helps relieve pressure on city services, ultimately helping a city recover faster, Valiente said.

—Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

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FILE - Lisa Bromfield and Mike Sernett are working to install a sheet of plywood on the windshields of a downtown Gulfport store in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Ian, Sept. 26, 2022, in South Pasadena, Fla.  Hurricane Ian is rapidly gaining monstrous strength as it moves across oceans partially warmed by climate change.  (Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File)

FILE – Lisa Bromfield and Mike Sernett are working to install a sheet of plywood on the windshields of a downtown Gulfport store in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Ian, Sept. 26, 2022, in South Pasadena, Fla. Hurricane Ian is rapidly gaining monstrous strength as it moves across oceans partially warmed by climate change. (Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File)

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