How Hurricane Michael Became a ‘Worst-Case Scenario’

Professor Kerry Emanuel speaks on Hurricane Michael’s climate-addled rapid intensification with The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and more.

Hyper Hurricanes: Warm waters fueled Michael’s sudden strengthening, and that fits a recent pattern

The Washington Post – 10/11/2018

In fact, according to hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michael could have become even stronger if not for some adverse wind shear, potentially reaching full Category 5 strength. That’s what happened in a model of the storm that Emanuel ran in real time. “With no shear, Michael would have intensified substantially faster,” he said.

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How Hurricane Michael Became a ‘Worst-Case Scenario’

The Atlantic – 10/10/2018

Meteorologists have lately seen a number of storms that acted like this. Last year, Hurricane Harvey rapidly intensified in the hours before it made landfall near Houston. As the climate warms, more hurricanes are projected to undergo a similar process. Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at MIT, has worried that climate-addled rapid intensification will make hurricanes increasingly difficult to predict. This would present a major problem, as the National Hurricane Center has struggled to improve its forecasts of hurricane intensity over the past three decades. While the government’s forecasts of hurricane storm track—that is, where a storm is going—have significantly improved since 1990, its forecasts of hurricane strength have not improved much at all in that time.

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The Hurricanes, and Climate-Change Questions, Keep Coming. Yes, They’re Linked.

The New York Times – 10/10/2018

The theory, largely the work of Kerry Emanuel, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holds that the temperature difference between ocean and upper atmosphere determines how much a storm intensifies. A bigger temperature difference leads to the release of more energy into the storm.

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From ‘Disturbance’ to Historic Monster in Just Four Days

The Wall Street Journal Online – 10/10/2018

The center began issuing notices on Michael on Saturday, first as a “disturbance” in the northwestern Caribbean. Four days later, “it’s one for the record books,” said Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “In some sense it’s a matter of chance that a hurricane happens to hit land just when it’s peaking like this one,” he said. “That’s just bad luck.”

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How to talk about hurricanes now

CNN Online – 10/10/2018

“The phrase ‘natural disaster’ is an attempt to lay blame where blame really doesn’t rest,” said Kerry A. Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT and a global expert on hurricanes….”The best scientific info we have now is that the probabilities of these intense hurricanes — from the point of view of both wind and water — are going up in many places because of global warming,” Emanuel said.

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Opinion | The ‘Greatest Hoax’ Strikes Florida

The New York Times – 10/10/2018

“There is strong consensus among scientists who study hurricanes and climate that warming temperatures should make more intense hurricanes possible,” Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at M.I.T., told me. He said that the probability of Hurricane Florence-magnitude rains in North Carolina has roughly tripled since the middle of the 20th century.

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Reporters trying to reach Hurricane Michael’s worst-hit areas

CNNBusiness – 10/11/2018

Notice how news outlets tend to call hurricanes like Michael a “natural disaster?” CNN’s John D. Sutter points out that we continue to use that term, “natural,” but “doing so — especially in the era of climate change — is misleading if not dangerous.” He spoke with several disaster experts and climate scientists about this. “The phrase ‘natural disaster’ is an attempt to lay blame where blame really doesn’t rest,” Kerry A. Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT and a global expert on hurricanes, told Sutter.

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