How Did Irma Get So Strong? Hint: Not Global Warming

The Daily Caller | 9/9/2017 | Staff
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Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday morning after making its way across the Atlantic as one of the most powerful storms on record.

Irma’s sheer size and power had many asking, “what allowed it to get so strong?”

Dynamical - Atmosphere - Irma - Hurricane - Intensity

“The dynamical set up in the atmosphere was extremely favorable for Irma to develop into a major hurricane and maintain very high intensity,” climatologist Judith Curry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Irma formed off the African coast in late August and quickly became a hurricane strength event in sea surface temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Within hours, Irma became a Category 3 storm.

Hurricanes - Water - Wind - Shear - Lots

Hurricanes need warm water, low wind shear and lots of moisture to gain strength. Irma formed at the perfect time. Hurricane season usually peaks in September when the Atlantic Ocean sees its hottest temperatures and has a lot of moisture.

Curry said a major reason Irma intensified so quickly was because of weak wind shear. Wind shear takes away the heat and moisture hurricanes feed off, and it tilts a storm’s vortex, further weakening it. Irma was able to put warm water and moisture to use because of the low wind shear.

Fact - Dynamics - Sea - Surface - Temperatures

“In fact, the dynamics were probably more important than the warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean,” Curry said. “Irma reached Cat 3 status over temperatures in the Atlantic that weren’t all that warm.”

The storm reached Category 5 as it moved into warmer air and water near the Caribbean. Irma maintained wind speeds of 185 miles per hour for 37 hours — a record in the satellite era.

Irma - Landfall - Cuba - Category - Storm

Irma temporarily weakened after making landfall in Cuba, but strengthened to a Category 4 storm Sunday morning when it hit the Florida Keys.

Irma hit Florida has a Category 3 storm, bringing 142-mile-per-hour wind gusts and “catastrophic” storm surge, according to weather...
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