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Hurricane Ian gets nasty fast, turbocharged by hot water – Lake Country Calendar

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

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

After growing 67% stronger in less than 10 p.m. from Monday to Tuesday, Ian is looking like a probable Category 4 hurricane that threatens to bring nightmarish storm surge to the Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida areas. .

Ian’s rapid intensification came after crossing Caribbean waters that are about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal, largely due to climate change. Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, said the warm water creates “a lot more rocket fuel for the storm.”

Climate change has other effects. The buildup of heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels makes storms slower and wetter. It exacerbates deadly storm surges from rising sea levels, worsens freshwater flooding and increases the proportion of Category 4 and 5 monster storms, like Fiona last week, according to multiple studies.

The current hurricane season had been unusually mild until about a week ago due to dry air in the Atlantic. Yet while the storms aren’t necessarily more frequent, they’re getting more severe as a result of global warming, experts say.

“In terms of impacts and climate change, yes, this season could be a harbinger of what’s to come,” said University of Albany hurricane researcher Kristen Corbosiero. “But it’s really hard to say that climate change is impacting a storm in terms of individual formation or intensity.”

The National Hurricane Center defines rapidly intensifying storms as those that gain 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 harm’s way.

In Ian’s case, the weather conditions were so obvious that forecasters warned days in advance.

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

“It’s a staggering statistic,” said Jim Kossin, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate and hurricane specialist, now with the private Climate Service, a risk analysis firm. “What was once a very, very rare event has obviously not been rare lately.”

A new study that has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal shows that as hurricanes approach the coast – a dangerous point for people – storms are intensifying faster than ever, says Pacific Northwest National Lab climatologist Karthik Balaguru. who conducted the study. “It’s more likely because of climate change,” he said.

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

“We light the burner of 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 weren’t enough, research also shows that storms now tend to move more slowly, allowing them to dump more rain in one place, like 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Louisiana and Texas.

While Ian is expected to slow down near the Florida coast and dump huge amounts of rain, he shouldn’t be near Harvey’s level by more than 50 inches.

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

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

“The time spent preparing for a storm is your best ally,” said Joseph Valiente, director of emergency management for Jefferson Parish.

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

—Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

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FILE – Lisa Bromfield and Mike Sernett work to place a sheet of plywood on the windows of a store in downtown Gulfport in preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Ian, September 26, 2022, in South Pasadena, Florida . Hurricane Ian is rapidly gaining monstrous strength as it moves over oceans partly warmed by climate change. (Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via AP, file)