Global warming suspected of ‘supercharging’ Michael to a monster
Hurricane Michael exploded in intensity this week, from a rather nondescript tropical depression Sunday with winds of 35 mph to a Category 4 monster Wednesday with 155 mph winds.
Along with other weather factors, Michael’s intensification was fueled in part by unusually warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. Water of at least 80 degrees fuels hurricanes, and the water in the eastern Gulf this week was as much as 4 to 5 degrees warmer than normal.
Although random weather patterns certainly played a role, the warm waters in the Gulf have a “human fingerprint” of climate change, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate and hurricane expert Jim Kossin.
Weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue said “there’s no doubt the ocean water encountered by Michael was quite warm compared to the last three decades, especially near the coast.”
Several studies say hurricanes intensify more rapidly than in prior years.