Human-caused climate change and El Niño have heated ocean waters to record levels, giving tropical storms a boost, scientists say…
For the first time on record, storms have reached top-tier Category 5 strength in every tropical ocean basin in the same year.
A combination of human-caused climate change and El Niño have heated ocean waters to record levels in 2023, setting the stage for this meteorological feat. The Copernicus Climate Service of the European Union confirmed that the global ocean reached its warmest level on record in August.
This week alone, two tropical cyclones leaped to Category 5 intensity in two days — Hurricane Jova in the northeastern Pacific on Wednesday, closely followed by Hurricane Lee in the Atlantic on Thursday. The pair of storms intensified with astonishing haste, their peak winds increasing 90 mph and 85 mph, respectively, in 24 hours.
Brian McNoldy, a tropical weather expert at the University of Miami, confirmed that 2023 marked the first instance of Category 5 storms in all seven and linked it to the warm waters.
“I think it’s reasonable to hypothesize that the abnormally warm ocean temperatures around the world made this more likely to happen,” McNoldy said in an email. “Gives everything a boost…”