31 July 2020

Hurricane Isaias Will Be Wetter and Stronger Because of Climate Change

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Hurricane Warnings were just posted for much of Central/South Florida, from the Kennedy Space Center southward to Boca Raton and it looks more and more likely that Isaias will track near the coastline as far north as Delaware. Make no mistake about it, the storm will be worse because of climate change in a myriad of ways. The storm surge and any coastal flooding will be higher because the sea level is higher. The storm will produce more rainfall than it would because the air is warmer and so are the oceans. This means more water vapor can evaporate into the air and fall as rain.

One more factor for this storm is the extremely warm water temperatures all the way up the eastern seaboard to New Jersey. Ocean waters off Delmarva and New Jersey are as much as 5 degrees F above normal. That is a LOT of extra energy to a hurricane. This means a storm staying just offshore will have more energy available to it and could stay stronger than a storm from the earlier 20th century would. Water temperatures are way above the 30-year average along entire East Coast of the U.S. tonight and that will make a difference in Isaias.

Climate change is a slow-motion disaster and us humans have a horrible track record of dealing with them. Too many would rather listen to people with little or no expertise who tell them what they want to hear instead of those with great expertise who tell them uncomfortable truths. This leads to bad outcomes, whether it be a virus or a hurricane, and Isaias may end up being yet another example of this. I live in Eastern Maryland and I may be dealing with Isaias as well next week.

One final note. There will be a lot of misinformation about Isaias on social media. Check that the information you are getting is from a meteorologist and not just someone drawing lines on a map. Oh, and remember that all computer models are wrong, but they sometimes give you good information.