Is Climate Change the Cause of Hurricane Nicole?

The aftermath of a violent storm in New Orleans, “Photo Courtesy of John Middelkoop/Unsplash”

Hurricane Nicole landed on the East coast of Florida in early November. The storm reached a level one status according to the Saffir Simpson Scale. It was accompanied by wind speeds ranging from 74-95 mph and one to three inches of rainfall in the Eastern and Northern parts of Florida. Hurricane Nicole was a leading cause of significant coastal erosion and flooding. 

While Hurricane Nicole was a relatively weak storm, it landed only six weeks after Hurricane Ian hit the same area in Florida. It is not unusual for hurricanes at this time of year, but both storms impacted the same area of Florida. This raises the question of what is causing such violent weather. Is climate change causing the increase? 

Attributing violent weather to climate change is easy, but the two have little correlation. 

“It is difficult to directly attribute any specific storm to the early influences of climate change,” said Gabriel Judkins, an Associate Professor in Residence in the geoscience department, “as the effects of global warming are distributed and increasing gradually over time with increased energy in the environment. What we would generally expect to see with global warming influencing hurricane activity is larger and stronger hurricanes.”

Hurricane Nicole was not a particularly intense hurricane and the storm landed during the Atlantic Hurricane season, meaning it is not out of the ordinary and is not a direct effect of climate change. 

“Additionally, while the Atlantic hurricane season was forecast to be above average in the number of hurricanes,” Judkins continued, “up till now, it has underperformed in both the number of storms and the total cumulated storm energy.” 

With or without climate change, Florida is a hotspot for hurricanes, which will continue to happen. The Atlantic hurricane season has yet to commence, so while another hurricane forming will be unlikely, another storm can still make landfall this November. 

Climate change is not a cause of hurricanes but can affect the hurricane’s impact. C2ES, the center for climate and energy solutions, said climate change is causing an increase in intensity and a decrease in the speed at which hurricanes travel. So hurricanes have become more costly in both physical damages and deaths. 

With hurricanes becoming more potent, it is crucial to be prepared for a hurricane, no matter where you live. Watching for incoming storms and their expected landfall is important, especially when traveling to parts of the world with high potential for hurricanes. Pack and store an emergency supply kit in a safe, accessible location. Having a plan to evacuate and find safe shelter in a potential emergency is also essential because evacuating early saves from traffic and allows for easy fuel access. 

In the end, climate change did not cause Hurricane Nicole, nor will it cause any hurricanes in the future. However, climate change is expected to increase the intensity of storms. This makes it increasingly necessary to become situationally aware of your surroundings when traveling to places like Florida with high hurricane activity.


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