Ida's heavy rains are a harbinger of future storms, experts say

The effects of Hurricane Ida will be felt far from where it made landfall on Sunday in southern Louisiana. As it moves through the Uppe...


The effects of Hurricane Ida will be felt far from where it made landfall on Sunday in southern Louisiana. As it moves through the Upper Ohio Valley and northeasterly later in the week, it is likely to cause heavy showers, including up to 10 inches of rain in parts of central Atlantic. More … than 80 million Americans were under flood watch or warning, with the majority associated with heavy rains in Ida.

Although scientists are not yet certain how climate change affects all characteristics of tropical cyclones, there is a broad consensus that global warming will lead to more extreme and more abundant precipitation during storms. Warming increases the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, which in turn can produce more rain.

“We tend to think that once tropical storms move across land, they run out of fuel,” said Rosimar Ríos-Barríos, research meteorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. But the winds of a tropical storm can extend thousands of kilometers from its center. In this case, even as Ida moves inland, said Dr Ríos-Barríos, she will continue to suck very hot and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and wrap it around her cyclone. This air can contribute to increased precipitation.

“We are seeing this increase in extreme precipitation for all types of events,” said Suzana Camargo, climatologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “But with hurricanes, we would expect more intense precipitation. This is what happened with Ida.

The amount of precipitation associated with a tropical cyclone has to do with the strength of the rain and its duration, which itself depends on the speed of a cyclone. Precipitation from Hurricane Harvey, the wettest tropical cyclone on record, fell more than 60 inches in east Texas in 2017. Heavy rains and subsequent flooding were caused in part by the hurricane stagnating near the coast.

Ida continued to move at around 10 to 15 miles an hour, “an expected pace,” Dr. Ríos-Barríos said. The main weather system in the United States moves in a general V-shaped pattern. Winds from the west of the United States move south toward the Gulf of Mexico, then turn to the North Atlantic. But other weather systems can bring currents in opposite directions, changing the direction of a storm or altering its speed.

As a tropical cyclone moves inland, its path is determined by a temperature contrast. Dr Ríos-Barríos said this could be one of the reasons central Pennsylvania and West Virginia are expected to experience such extreme precipitation, up to 10 inches in some places. There, the cyclone can develop a warm front, which will lift air, create clouds and produce more precipitation.

Many of those areas in the storm’s path have already received exceptional rains this summer, leaving some rivers taller and soils more saturated, increasing the risk of flooding. The middle valley of Tennessee, which experienced flash floods earlier this month which killed at least 20 people, can see up to four inches of rain Tuesday and Wednesday.

Whether climate change made Ida and the extent of its flooding more likely, and if so, by how much, will not be known until scientists can perform an attribution study, a type of research that quantifies the links between climate change and specific extreme weather conditions. events.

But scientists agree that Ida is a harbinger of future hurricanes. “If our planet continues to warm at the alarming rate it is warming, then Ida is an example of what we might expect in the future,” said Dr Ríos-Barríos. “It’s very scary.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: Ida's heavy rains are a harbinger of future storms, experts say
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