Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Hurricanes are intensifying more quickly now » Yale Climate Connections

Last year, a cyclone named Otis was set to hit Mexico as a tropical storm.

But over the 24 hours before it made landfall, the storm strengthened. And by the time it hit near Acapulco, it was a powerful Category 5 hurricane that killed more than 40 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Morales: “People were not prepared. People were caught off guard and the destruction and the loss of life was significant.”

John Morales is a meteorologist for NBC 6 in Miami. He says this storm was an example of what scientists call rapid intensification.

Rapid intensification can happen when warm ocean temperatures help supercharge a storm in mere hours.

And warm ocean conditions are becoming more common as the climate warms, so Morales wants people to prepare for storms that quickly become dangerous.

Morales: “I want people to realize that they need to be wary of every tropical storm that’s out there and every low-end hurricane that’s out there because rapid intensification, which is happening more frequently because of climate change, has changed the speed limit on these hurricanes. Things are different now, things are more dangerous now, and I need people to not be caught off guard by these extremes that the climate crisis is producing.”

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman / ChavoBart Digital Media

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