Climate Change: The Power Behind Hurricane Maria's Devastation

During the recent years, a strong hurricane by the name of Katrina have raged in the country, bringing one of the rainiest storms known to have hit some countries, especially Puerto Rico. And according to a new study, climate change is partly to blame.

A few years ago, Hurricane Katrina arrived with the worst of its rains dropping on Puerto Rico’s central mountainous part, starting from the Northwest to the Southeast. Usually, that part of the island is already rainy, getting around 150 inches of rain on an average year.

However, when Katrina struck back in 2017, that part got nearly a quarter of its annual rainfall in under one day.

Recently, a paper was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, where it had been stated that scientists from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Sonoma State University in California  studied and analyzed dates from all of the 129 hurricanes that fell onto Puerto Rico since the year 1956, when reliable record keeping started.

From the data, they were then able to find that compared to past hurricanes that passed by US territory, Katrina was a real force of nature, dropping an average of 15 inches of rain on a daily basis. This is 30 percent more than the previous record in 1985 by a tropical storm and dropped 66 percent more rain on average than 1998’s Hurricane Georges, which, before Katrina, was the biggest storm to ever lay waste on the island. The storm was very destructive, killing around 3,000 people.

So what does climate change have to do with any of this?

Well, according to the latest paper published about hurricane Katrina, today’s warmer air and ocean water makes storms as strong as Katrina five times more likely than it would have during the 1950s. Around that time, global warming was still in its infancy.

This coincides with a paper published last year, which stated that climate change is causing some storms to drop more rain than usual, around five to 10 percent more.