Hurricane Ida smashed into Louisiana with winds of about 150 miles an hour, driving a wall of water inland and leaving more than a million people in the dark. Yet only 36 hours before it reached land south of New Orleans on Sunday, the storm’s winds registered at just more than half that speed. In those critical pre-landfall hours, the storm underwent a process that scientists term rapid intensification — and this is where warming temperatures plays a pivotal role in generating more powerful hurricanes.
“It’s a known effect of climate change. Increasing ocean heat is causing strong hurricanes to become stronger,” said Greg Foltz, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.