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Hurricane Delta's Rapid Intensification Is Fueled by Climate Change

Hurricane Delta's Rapid Intensification Is Fueled by Climate Change
NHC Director Ken Graham provides an update on Hurricane Delta. NOAA

Hurricane Delta is set to batter southwest Louisiana later today, as residents there prepare to be hit once again by a storm that has rapidly intensified, experts say, largely because of global warming.

Hurricane Delta, the sixth storm so far to meet scientists' threshold for rapid intensification, exploded from an unnamed storm into a 140 mph monster in just 36 hours.

"It's more likely that a storm will rapidly intensify now than it did in the 1980s," NOAA climate and hurricane scientist Jim Kossin told the AP.

The proportion of storms rapidly intensifying in the Atlantic has nearly doubled since 1982, according to a study published last year by Kossin and Princeton climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi, who both told the AP climate change, caused by burning gas, oil, and coal, is clearly playing a major role.

The increase in storms' rapid acceleration is fueled by oceans heated by climate change.

For Louisiana residents, the danger — and trauma — of repeated storms in such close succession is visceral.

Hurricane Laura slammed two trees through Janice Duren's Lake Charles home less than two months ago, "And we're fixing to get hit again. You might as well hang it up," Duren told the New York Times from the New Orleans hotel to which she evacuated.

"It looks like somebody put a bomb off down there [in Lake Charles]," she said. "And you turn around and put another hurricane on top of that? … It'll be double the trouble, but we don't have half the help we need."

For a deeper dive:

AP, New York Times, CBS, CNN, National Geographic, The Guardian, E&E; Climate Signals background: Hurricanes; 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

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