Hurricanes are getting stronger. Here’s why

Hurricane Otis is on a path north-northwest through Mexico

Louise Boyle
Friday 27 October 2023 10:47 BST
Infrared satellite shows 'extremely dangerous' Hurricane Otis make landfall in Mexico

Hurricane Otis slammed into Mexico early on Wednesday as the strongest ever storm to make landfall on the country’s west coast.

Otis went from a Category 1 to Category 5 hurricane in just 12 hours — the fastest rate ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The storm made landfall near Acapulco and is moving north-northwest through the country.

As global temperatures increase and sea levels rise, tropical cyclones - the catch-all term for hurricanes and typhoons - are expected to become more powerful and destructive, scientists say.

The ocean hit record high temperatures this year, driving marine heatwaves around the world. This heat is being caused by a fossil-fuel driven climate crisis with El Nino, a cyclical weather pattern, layered on top.

Scientists have calculated that about 90 per cent of the excess heat in the atmosphere has been absorbed by the ocean.

Ocean heat is supercharging tropical cyclones with more heavy rainfall and powerful storm surge. While the number of hurricane is not increasing, they have become stronger in the past 40 years.

Sea-level rise is also making these storms more dangerous. As the oceans rise, due to melting polar ice sheets and increased heat expanding seawater, coastal cities will be more likely to be inundated during storms.

Since the late 19th century, global sea level has risen by eight inches.

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