Hurricanes

How Climate Change Is Making Hurricanes Worse According to Report

Climate change is having an impact on hurricanes; was Ida stronger as a result?

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Ida is the second major hurricane of the 2021 season. Grace become a major hurricane as it hit Mexico in July.

Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon as a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds leaving a path of catastrophic damage. Ida is the ninth strongest hurricane to hit the contiguous U.S and the second strongest to hit Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina had 125 mph winds when the storm made landfall in 2005.

A new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released this month stated that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. Ida’s strength and impacts were most likely made worse by this.

Here is what we know about how a warming world is impacting storms:

  • A warmer atmosphere leads to more heavy rain. For every degree of celsius the air heats up, it can hold 7% more moisture.
  • Warmer seawater leads to rapid intensification of hurricanes. Thursday, Aug. 26, Ida was a hurricane with 75 mph winds. By Sunday, Aug. 29, the peak winds were up to 150 mph. Rapid intensification gives residents little time to prepare and evacuate. 
  • Sea level rises leads to greater storm surge penetrating deeper inland. Seas in Louisiana are up 24 inches from 1950 levels.
  • Weather disasters are becoming more frequent. In the past four years, three category 4 hurricanes and one category 5 hurricane have hit the Gulf Coast.
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