Hurricane Ida made landfall last weekend near New Orleans as a Category-4 storm, lashing the region with winds of up to 150mph (240kph), heavy rains and several feet of storm surge on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Several factors linked to the climate crisis are helping to fuel more powerful, destructive storms like Ida, scientists say.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science, found that storms with sustained higher wind speeds – in the Category 3-5 range – have likely increased in the past 40 years.
The ocean absorbs over 90 percent of excess heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and that warm water feeds hurricanes.
“There is more energy available, so intensification of these hurricanes is expected,” Dr. Susan Lozier, president of the American Geophysical Union and an expert on the interaction of oceans, hurricanes and climate change, told The Independent. “And intensification brings more winds.”
More than a million people lost power when Ida toppled thousands of transmission lines and knocked 216 substations offline. Utility companies warned that thousands could remain in the dark and without air conditioning or running water for several weeks amid stifling heat and humidity.