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Hurricane Nicholas hit the Texas coast yesterday as a category 1 storm, bringing heavy rains and 75 mph winds. Rapidly intensifying from a tropical storm to a hurricane before making landfall, Nicholas gained 35 mph in wind speeds in a single day. There have been six Atlantic hurricanes so far this year, and five of them—including Nicholas—have met the National Hurricane Center’s definition of rapid intensification: a 35 mph wind speed increase within 24 hours. Nicholas has since weakened into a tropical storm, but is projected to bring heavy rain and flooding from the Upper Texas Coast through central and southern Louisiana.
Why This Matters: Even when a storm is downgraded from a hurricane, it can still cause serious damage, such as flooding and power loss.. This is especially true in Louisiana, where Hurricane Ida made landfall just two and a half weeks ago and nearly 100,000 people still remain without power, and the area’s soils haven’t yet recovered, making them susceptible to flooding. Nicholas is projected to bring at least 36 hours of heavy rain along the Gulf Coast.
Both rapid intensification and heavier rains are connected to climate change — a warmer Gulf of Mexico fuels intensification and warmer air holds more precipitation.
Storm Intensification, Ranked: While a 35 mph increase in wind speed in 24 hours is the threshold for “rapid intensification,” many storms this year have blown past that number, including:
Nicholas: 35 mph
Larry: 45 mph
Ida: 65 mph
Grace: 55 mph
Elsa: 35 mph
Hurricane Henri is the year’s only hurricane that didn’t rapidly intensify. With 2021’s hurricane season only halfway over, it’s on track to have more named storms make landfall than the 2020’s record-breaking season.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Days after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, energy company Entergy can’t say when New Orleans residents will get power back. In addition to the direct health harms that can come from losing AC when the heat index is over 100, the lack of power has also made it harder to […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer Tens of thousands have evacuated Lake Tahoe as the Caldor wildfire charges towards the resort town. The raging Caldor Fire has burned 277 square miles since it began in early August and has threatened 20,000 structures, burning 600 to the ground. The fire has stagnated at less than 20% containment. […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer As now Tropical Storm Ida moves inland, Louisiana residents are surveying Sunday’s damage. More than one million people are still without power as of Monday afternoon, and 25,000 workers from 32 states have mobilized to provide relief. Officials are celebrating the success of New Orleans’ updated levee system but still lament “catastrophic damage” caused by 150 mph […]
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