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Hurricanes now more likely to intensify rapidly

by Daria Blackwell 22 Oct 2023 04:41 UTC
Hurricane Tammy in the Atlantic © NOAA

With warmer oceans serving as fuel, Atlantic hurricanes are now more than twice as likely as before to rapidly intensify from minor hurricanes to powerful and catastrophic storms.

A study published this week examined 830 Atlantic tropical cyclones since 1971. It found that in the last 20 years, 8.1% of the time storms powered from a Category 1 minor storm to a major hurricane in just 24 hours. That happened only 3.2% of the time from 1971 to 1990, according to a study in the journal Scientific Reports.

When storms rapidly intensify, it makes it difficult for people in the storm's path to decide what they should do — get out of the way or hunker down.

This as Hurricane Norma threatens the west coast of the US and Mexico, while Hurricane Tammy approaches the leeward islands of the Caribbean.

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