Warm Gulf waters spawned Hurricane Michael's intensity: scientists




  • In US
  • 2018-10-10 21:47:12Z
  • By By Jon Herskovitz

By Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) - When Hurricane Michael barreled into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday with 155-mph (249-kph) sustained winds, it defied forecasts made just two days beforehand, its wind speeds doubling since Monday and coming in just short of the highest category of intensity.

Michael was not the only tropical cyclone in recent years to undergo what scientists refer to as "rapid intensification," defined as an acceleration of wind speeds of at least 35 mph (56 kph) in 24 hours or less. The phenomenon has become more serious as sea waters have warmed with climate change.

"It is most likely that the very warm water in the Gulf ... is likely contributing to the intensity and the intensification that we have seen," said Jim Kossin, an atmospheric scientist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Rapid intensification is dangerous because it gives businesses, industry and people on the ground less time to take appropriate precautions ahead of hurricanes like Michael that hit shore with far more furious winds than originally expected.

Several factors can contribute, but warmer waters increase the potential for a storm becoming stronger, climate scientists have said.

Climate change means that warmer ocean temperatures are being seen more often, said Jennie Evans, a professor of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University.

"Since we've got warm temperatures in the Gulf now, a hurricane has a much better chance to reach its maximum possible intensity, which appears to be what Michael is doing," she said.

In some cases, high-altitude winds can put a cap on a storm's ability to draw power from moist sea air. But in Michael's case, that brake was not in place.

Rapid intensification happens about 5 percent of the time and is difficult to predict. Last year, in the Atlantic basin, forecasters correctly forecast six of 39 such instances, according to Michael Brennan, branch chief of the hurricane specialist unit at the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The NHC said last year it failed to adequately predict the rapid intensification of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 to a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph (270 kph). Matthew was directly responsible for 585 deaths, including more than 500 people in Haiti, the NHC said.

While the science of tracking a storm relies heavily on data about conditions on its periphery, predicting intensity relies on measuring what is happening in the middle of it.

Typically, that means flying a hurricane hunter aircraft inside the storm, recording wind speeds from a weather buoy as a storm passes overhead or relying on satellites that may fly over once every other day.

Collecting consistent data through the storm is difficult and limits the ability to predict intensity, hurricane experts have said.

In recent storms that have intensified quickly, the phenomenon has been more exaggerated than in the past, according to a recent research paper co-authored by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher Karthik Balaguru.

"At the end of the day, deep warm water, what we call ocean heat content, that's really the fuel supply for these storms," said J. Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia.


(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Additional reporting by Gabriella Borter and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney)

COMMENTS

More Related News

More dogs are getting sick as climate changes pushes diseases into new parts of the US
More dogs are getting sick as climate changes pushes diseases into new parts of the US

From heartworms to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to Lyme disease, climate change means more dogs are getting sick.

CBS Host Confronts Steve Scalise: Your Solution to Climate Change Is to Drill More?
CBS Host Confronts Steve Scalise: Your Solution to Climate Change Is to Drill More?

During a climate change discussion on CBS This Morning on Friday, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) responded to questions about man-made climate change contributing to erosion of land in his home state by claiming Louisiana is using Gulf of Mexico oil drilling revenues to rebuild land, prompting host Tony Dokoupil to hold his feet to the fire.Noting that scientists have found that Lousiana is losing the equivalent of a football field of land to the Gulf of Mexico every hour, Dokoupil asked Scalise if he accepted the science of man-made climate change and, if so, where's his plan to address it.Scalise, who was making the morning show rounds to hawk his new book, replied that his state's land loss...

Climate Change Is All Most of Us Have Ever Known
Climate Change Is All Most of Us Have Ever Known

"Undeniable" might be a useful descriptor, but let's frame climate change differently: how this reality manifests itself within the human experience, and how politics are being shaped by that experience. In 2015, the global median age was just below 30, so a changing climate is the only thing most people on Earth have known. Different age groups have contrasting views of a climate of constant change and volatility. A recent Gallup poll separated Americans into three climate change cohorts: "Concerned believers" are highly worried about global warming, think it will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, believe it's the result of human activity, and think news reports about it are...

Pope warns oil execs of need for "rapid" energy transition
Pope warns oil execs of need for "rapid" energy transition
  • US
  • 2019-06-14 14:55:59Z

Pope Francis warned oil executives on Friday that a "radical energy transition" to clean, low-carbon power sources is needed to stave off global warming as he pressed his environmental message in a closed-door Vatican summit. Francis also told industry leaders from the likes of Britain's BP and Italy's Eni that carbon pricing and science-based transparent reporting of carbon risks were essential to ensure the poorest don't suffer any more from the effects of climate change. The meeting marked the second year in a row that Francis has invited oil and financial sector executives to the Vatican to impress upon them his concern that preserving God's creation from global warming is one of...

Pope backs carbon pricing to stem global warming and appeals to deniers
Pope backs carbon pricing to stem global warming and appeals to deniers

Pope Francis said on Friday that carbon pricing is "essential" to stem global warming - his clearest statement yet in support of penalising polluters - and appealed to climate change deniers to listen to science. In an address to energy executives at the end of a two-day meeting, he also called for "open, transparent, science-based and standardised" reporting of climate risk and a "radical energy transition" away from carbon to save the planet. Carbon pricing, via taxes or emissions trading schemes, is used by many governments to make energy consumers pay for the costs of using the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming, and to spur investment in low-carbon technology.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.