Between Saturday and Sunday, Hurricane Ida went from a 105-mph Category 2 to a high-end Category 4 in an escalation enabled by bad luck, climate change and seasonal timing.
As Axios reports, diving deeper into what and how this storm gained strength so quickly is critical to learning how to better protect coastal communities.
That the storm rapidly intensified was not a surprise to hurricane forecasters, who had been predicting this since the storm moved off the coast of Cuba on Friday. But even the most bullish forecast did not call for the rate or peak of intensification that ended up occurring.
Winds shot upwards by 65 mph, exceeding the National Hurricane Center’s definition of rapid intensification over a 24-hour period.
Hurricane Ida’s explosive intensification was due to three main factors, with climate change mainly affecting the first two of these three:
• An ample supply of warm water, with the warmth extending deep into the water column. This was heightened by the storm’s timing: Gulf temperatures tend to be at their hottest at this time of year. This year, though, the waters have been even hotter than average.
• Abundant moisture in the atmosphere, since dry air can get entrained into storms and disrupt their intensification process.
• A lack of wind shear or any other atmospheric factor that could stifle the storm’s towering thunderstorms from organizing and forming a concentric ring around the eye. Read the full story.