Hurricane Michael Intensified Quickly, Taking Many by Surprise

The storm’s sharp increase in strength could be attributed in part to its low barometric pressure and warmer-than-average waters in the Gulf of Mexico.


Comments: 78

  1. This was in the company of Katrina, Andrew and Camille, which is awesome.

    It did that by surprise in just two days. That is shocking.

    This is more than a hurricane. It is a warning.

  2. @Mark Thomason Sadly, it's not a warning; it's what we were warned of. Selfishness, laziness and greed have all conspired to make many Americans ignore the consistent cries of 'danger, danger' from scientists as far back as the 1970's. We reap what sow; in this case we reap what the ignorant have sown.

  3. @Mark Thomason A warning? Like the boy who cried wolf? Every one of these warnings (Andrew, Camille, Michael, et al.) has been an actual wolf and no one cares, not even these Floridians.

  4. Manmade Gas Oil Pollution and coal consumption must drastically curtailed if the world wants to have a habitable earth instead of a Russian-Republican-Roullette climate of endless fatal hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, crop failures and the global immigration crises and massive property destruction that extreme fossil-fuel-infused weather causes.

    Solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, tidal and other evolving non-polluting forms of energy technology are the answer to this manmade global catastrophe.

    The answer resides in science, technology, education, awareness and the political will of the people to demand solutions.

    The non-answer and climate suicide reside in denying that the oceans are warming heat sinks that fuel fatal weather and climate events from too much carbon pumped into the atmosphere from cheap fossil-fuel energy.

    The answer is to vote for progressive problem solving candidates.....and to stop voting for Gas Oil Pollution and to stop voting for 'beautiful' fatal lumps of coal.

    Wake up, America.

    Vote for solutions; not right-wing denials of reality.

    November 6 2018

  5. Perfect and sensible if I ever read so myself.

  6. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone since we were warned to expect this level of intensity last year. Or are the climate change deniers feigning surprise?

  7. Since the ‘Weather Guessers’ knew about the warmer than average Gulf Stream, and the very low barometric pressure, why didn’t they do better at predicting the strength of Michael???

  8. “There’s still stuff we don’t know about hurricanes,” Dr. Klotzbach added.

    Before everyone jumps on the warming earth reasoning, I suggest you reread that quote again. I don't deny climate change but a number of factors affect the temperature of the gulf. The fact that the forecasters predicted it would weaken due to wind shear is another indication of our limited knowledge. Why, in fact, did it grow stronger when it was predicted to weaken? It is unknown. Yes warmer gulf temps will intensify a hurricane but why didn't the wind shear knock it down a bit as it historically does? It is always refreshing to see a scientist admit they just don't know.

  9. @dudley thompson,
    Thanks for the very welcome voice of reasonableness! Too many people these days seem to believe in the infallibility of science.

  10. @dudley thompson If you are so ready to believe there is stuff he doesn’t know, why are you then somreluctant to believe the stuff they do know, ie factors contributing to climate change, increasing weather extremes?

  11. I wonder how many more of these storms are we going to have to experience (and pay for) before people start wondering if climate change and the worldwide burning of fossil fuels might actually be causing them.

  12. @Bill boga

    Soon nobody will believe Trump.

  13. So there is nothing to this climate change issue?

    Not believing science on this issue is like believing the earth is flat. But believing in a flat earth does not result in the possible ruining of the ecological balance of the earth.

    And what I find amazing, it is always the rich who there is nothing to this. Who cares if Panama City is blown back to the 18th century, I can just move to where the weather is nice!

  14. Compared to Florence, and even Gordon, we heard very little about Michael before it struck the coast. I hope our weather scientists learn quite a bit from Michael, especially if this sort of fast intensification becomes more common. Please, Florida, start voting for politicians who take climate change seriously. I'd like to say it was nice knowing you, but, really, it was not, considering how much you continue to vote Republican.

  15. @Chip

    I doubt you heard much on your local Indiana media about the storm.

    Since I have friends down south, I keep track via the National Hurricane Center website. They knew, and kept their forecasts updated long before the storm came north.

    A problem is that Trump has cut funding for NWS, as well as his trend toward installing partisan administrators that do not regard climate as a science. After all, these scientists continue to predict global climate change due to man-made influences on our atmosphere.

    Remember who and what groups continue to deny science. Shout their names loudly; let no one ever forget what they do to our planet for their own aggrandizement and profit.

  16. Many canaries in the coal mine singing this summer here in Florida. Unusually warm gulf waters, toxic red tide and risks to health, and now a hurricane for the ages popping up in 2 days. Something is off.

  17. Earth, we are just a temporary species on this planet. It won't be long before we cause our own demise.

  18. We have a decade to change the trajectory of this and if our leaders do not heed the call we are all in for a world of hurt. We have given the current leaders a chance and they have failed miserably. Vote for people who understand climate change and are willing to enact major policy to reduce emissions on a grand scale and to mitigate the coming damage. There is no bigger issue in the country or the world right now and it's stunning we have a gov't so daft and corrupt that it is ignoring it. Vote this November like your lives depend upon it; because they literally do.

  19. The problem isn't the leaders, they are doing what they were elected to do: to be media savvy smart alecks.
    The problem is that the people have a hard time electing the right leaders who will do what needs to be done, and then pay the price for that.
    It's always going to be an uphill climb because cheap easy answers are always so much more palatable, and the salespeople selling them so very smooth and skillful.

  20. I’m betting that Trump will do much better in Florida this week than the cheap paper towels he tossed at the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

    This time, along with the paper towels, there’ll be batteries, candy and gum.

    Puerto Rico was brown people and there’s an election coming you know.

  21. "Hurricane Michael Intensified Quickly, Taking Many By Surprise"

    Really? Are we still at the stage where our new climate realities surprise us? In denial much?

    How many seasons of out-of-control wildfires, how many 'record-breaking' summer heat waves, how many 'flash floods of the century events', 'how many never-before-seen hurricanes and tornados, will it take for people to finally accept climate change?

    Scientists have been saying for years - though not loudly enough, since political bosses were ordering them not to - that just one of the results of climate change would be intensifying 'everything' relative to weather.

    This is the new norm, folks. I have a feeling that we haven't seen anything yet. It's going to get worse still. Can we get past the 'shock and surprise' and finally accept what we have wrought?
    Oh, wait. No. No it's no surprise, since Floridians accept a politician that has outlawed terms like global warming and climate change. Guess, we'll continue to be shocked, surprised and wonder, 'What in tarnations is Mother Nature doing...'

  22. Here we have yet another reason for the US to fund science and stop attacking it. If we want scientists to better predict these rapidly intensifying storms, money needs to be put into research and education for just that.

  23. Years ago I looked to retire to Florida but between the bugs, humidity, storms I decided on the Southwest. Never regretted it.

  24. I think of the map of all of the flights in the air diverted around the hurricanes. It is dense with airplanes which fly their routes around the clock, consuming enormous amounts of jet fuel. All of us driving Pruises and Teslas tomorrow will hardly compete with these jets which fly unseen overhead spewing CO2, Who will be willing to give up air travel for the sake of the climate? There are no solar powered air travel alternatives.

  25. While air travel contributes, it simply isn’t close to what’s caused by cars and energy generation. Or air conditioning, for that matter.

  26. @Michael

    At least they can become vegan and save more fuel than selling their SUV's would. They can pay for carbon trades on their flights. And they can stop flying on their private jets, and fly commercial.

  27. this is our future. Human overpopulation and global warming = a devastating combination and we won't do anything about it! We will just push our double strollers and stare at our smart phones and eventually go extinct.

  28. @Zenster Earth's population will stabilize and fall, stop spreading nonsense and go look up the demographic-economic paradox.

    As for global warming, yeah, we are screwed...

  29. Once again, after basically "crying wolf" in advance of recent hurricanes the weather industry and their guessers missed the big one. After a week or more of breathless updates from the Carolinas and massive evacuations for what turned out to be basically a rain event . . . nary a peep about Michael.

  30. @Bill Beaulac - Speaking as someone who lives in the Carolinas, with our "rain event" of Hurricane Florence, let me suggest you have no idea what you're talking about. Parts of NC and SC still haven't seen flood waters reside from that, and now we get Michael. At least it was fast moving, unlike Florence. There will be many hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars of damage from both Florence and Michael when all is told, and it will take years to rebuild. Think that's crying wolf? Why don't y'all come down here and lend us hand, bless your heart.

  31. Hey, could you do the bit where you swear up and down that only one rain gauge showed more than an inch of rain? I love that one; comedy gold.

  32. What is truly surprising is that disasters like Hurricane Michael are no longer surprising. Every year brings new weather records. That we've come to expect these things relates directly to the hubris, greed, ignorance, and sheer stupidity of those, like President Trump, who deny the incontrovertible facts of climate change and work to maintain the status quo.

  33. God Bless and have mercy on the citizens of Florida's coast.

  34. I’m sure this article will not be on Alfred E. Trump’s reading list this morning. “What, me worry?”

  35. It is tragic that such destruction occurs, especially when the immediate and long-term causes are known. The immediate cause is the overall unprecedented and RAPID rise in global temperatures (especially of the oceans) due to the heat-trapping effects of the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy. This is referred to as global warming and it is most definitely NOT a "hoax." The long-term cause of this situation is the capitalist economic-political system. Capitalists, in their continuous and UNAVOIDABLE competition to be the one(s) that are most wealthy because they are the one(s) who are "in-control," cannot cooperate in any meaningful way over any meaningful length of time.

    (I had to leave out a whole paragraph due to length restrictions).

    Voting for Democrats will NOT solve the problems that capitalism creates (racism, poverty, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, etc.) because the Democrats support capitalism just as the Republicans do. The only "difference" between the two parties is that the Democrats are not as openly racist and anti-science as the Republicans. But if you ask the Democrats for their plan to end the use of fossil fuels, the "best" they can produce is a way to MILDLY slow down the rate of rise of global temperatures. But slowing down the rise is NOT enough. The use of fossil fuels MUST be eliminated. And this the Democrats will NOT do. In short:

    IT'S NOT JUST TRUMP - IT'S CAPITALISM
    [email protected]

  36. @John Jaros It's not capitalism per se, it's the unregulated, gilded age, greedy form now ascendant in trump Inc.

  37. @John Jaros, another important contribution is industrial animal agriculture which some have estimated to be as much as 30%.

  38. @John Jaros
    We can go vegan, drive a Prius or a Tesla, make fewer airline flights and buy carbon trades for the airline flights we make, mount solar panels, plant trees. It isn't Trump,it isn't capitalism. As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and it is us."

  39. Sending my thoughts and prayers to Rick Scott, Climate Change Denier.
    VOTE in November.

  40. @Phyliss Dalmatian: @Phyliss Dalmatian: My thoughts and prayers will be reflected in my votes for 100% D's!!

  41. The distinction between storm path and storm intensity is important. The path is more or less baked. The storm is going to hit wherever it hits. You can give people warning. However, as in South Carolina, storm frequency is a more determinant factor effecting peoples' lives. How often does a hurricane hit your home? Once a century doesn't sound bad. Twice in a season sounds really bad.

    Intensity on the other hand has two potential outcomes. You can have slow moving storm like Florence. Wind damages are minor but the storm stalls over land and dumps tons of water. Conversely, you can have a storm like Michael which blows out quickly but shreds everything in its path. Both scenarios are expected to get worse with climate change. This while storm frequency in the Atlantic diminishes slightly. Fewer storms, more damage. That's the future.

    I'm simply wondering when government policy will shift to reflect this reality. At what point does the tax payer stop throwing good money after bad? First, we need federal and state governments to acknowledge the problem. However, we then need a fair measurement for assessing environmental risks. The government is the assurance agent of last resort. Are we adopting a universal coverage policy against climate change?

    I'd rather have universal health care than repeatedly paying to bailout environmental catastrophes. I think the country needs to answer the question of where we draw the line.

  42. @Andy To get Floridians to force governments "to acknowledge the problem", the first thing is to send Florida's climate change denying Republican governor Rick Scott into private life by voting to re-elect Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut who understands climate science and votes and acts to support measures to mitigate damage and slow the progression of global warming.

    Michael's terrible visit is a prophesy of worse to come. Having come of age in north Florida, I know how innately conservative the Panhandled is. After Michael, however, any resident of the Panhandle who votes for Scott or Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate for Governor, is voting for their own destruction.

    In South Florida. where I live, rising seas have led conservatives to accept the reality of climate change. They remain pioneers, a small minority Florida's Republicans.

    The climate wolf is at our door. To wrestle more adequately with climate change which threatens all, physically and financially, Floridians must clean house, defeating climate denying conservatives and replacing them with representatives who recognize and are prepared to struggle with Florida's greatest challenge.

    Some day conservatives will come to their senses but that day is post-Trump. This November self-preservation requires a Blue Wave in Florida.

  43. We should start naming hurricanes after Republicans: Chuck, Donald, Mitch, Orrin, Paul, etc.

  44. meteorologists are highly trained scientists and made accurate forecasts based on current tools. but. they all also said, as with all huuricanes, changes can occur immediately. and they also pointed out extra-warm gulf and falling pressure. people need to pay attention.

  45. "Warmer sea surface temperature are consistent with climate change." What a genteel way of putting the catastrophes that await a country that is so STUPID. We have a senator who brings a snowball into the senate and a president in denial for the shabbiest political reasons. And we will pay a price. Just the beginning folks. And Republican Florida is red hot in the denial parade. Karma is a Mitch.

  46. It’s a scientifically-accurate way to say it, actually. I expect this sort of guff from Trumpists, but I do continue to hope that others learn a few simple bits of the language.

    Also be good if we all learned when the eddicated types are saying, “It’s obvious, you idjits. Wake the heck up.”

  47. @rocky vermont Who KNEW hurricanes were so complicated?! While climate change mitigation is off the table for this ignorant administration they are at least happy to rush in aid to look good and save votes - unless you happen to live in PR.

  48. warmer than average waters - huh?

  49. Huh?

  50. I've lived on the Gulf coast in St. Petersburg for awhile and am hoping for the best outcomes in all the towns along the coast.

    Here in the Southwest we are encountering an increase in wildfires due to drier seasons, a similar effect of climate change to the warmer Gulf waters' contribution to more severe hurricanes.

    I can only hope that the current administration or after November, a more rational Congress will return to addressing this devastating trend by returning to the world forum and help not hinder the attempts to combat global climate change.

  51. This is NOT political! I've lived on the gulf coast for 40 years including Florida and seen many hurricanes come and go - when you are in the path of the eye or the wet side then it's bad - it always has been, there's nothing new about this. Certainly Michael intensified quickly but the gulf is warm and that's to be expected - there was plenty of warning that this was going to be bad - the rapid drop to a very low pressure over a couple of days predicted an intense impact.

    But look on the bright side, it was not a very large hurricane and looking at the initial pictures of the damage it's impressive how many structures appear to have survived CAT4+ winds and surge. Clearly Florida's building regulations are working - that's very good news!

  52. @Edmund Cramp Exactly, it's not political, it's about addressing climate change.

  53. @Edmund Cramp Compared to the nearly two weeks that the media saturated us with news about Florence's approach, Michael gave little advance warning as it seemed to pop up from out of nowhere. But as you mentioned, Michael's one saving grace was its speed which kept rainfall amounts from being Biblical.

  54. Climate models are different from weather models and there is a potential to confuse the model input and output. The two sets inputs and outputs are unlikely to have much in common to model a hurricane life-cycle (weather) and model climate change. The hurricane has a life-time of days or week and climate change has a time scale of decades, centuries and millenia. Hurricane models assemble and combine current weather patterns (water temperature, winds etc) to predict hurricanes for a day or two. Climate models combine atmospheric composition, sunlight etc. to predict long term weather averages, aka climate over decades.

    Assuming there are at a few hurricane models capable of predicting a hurricane's life-cycle, Monte Carlo statistical sampling of the output from a climate model used as input to hurricane models yield estimates of hurricane frequencies, intensity and the like for the assumed climate conditions.

    To read "stuff we still don't know about hurricanes" is entirely reasonable and that leads to being surprised by what a hurricane does and can mean we are surprised by climate change consequences to hurricane frequency, intensity and life-cycle. Surprises are not a failing of either model nor are surprises a condemnation of the idea there is a connection.

    What continues to dismay is the hostility to science and political undermining of the research to resolve some of the unknowns and minimize our surprises to what happening with both weather and climate.

  55. Leading American hurricane specialists are right now furthering their research in France, with president Macron's support, because the Trump administration belittles their efforts to understand and predict more accurately. We cannot afford to be rudderless any longer. We must mobilize to defend science, facts, and competence. Before it's too late.

  56. Warmer than usual Gulf waters?

    Sorry folks, this is now the “usual”. And there is no reason to expect Gulf Waters to cool any time soon.

  57. The storm’s quick intensity taking many by surprise, is not a surprise at all to those scientists who have been warning us all along about global warming, which is getting worse. I believe that the intensity of the weather is directly related to the exponential growth of humans on this planet and the only way we may stop, and reverse the course of these intense weather conditions, is to stop the exponential increase of human growth, which is difficult if not impossible because, only humans know what's the right thing to do but do the opposite.

  58. And when it happened, Donald was further dividing America at one of his hate rallies. He couldn’t stop his hatred and division, even as Americans died.

  59. The entire planet is a biome? No way!

    Next thing I know, someone's going to tell me that '2 + 2 = 4'.

  60. No natural phenomenon should take people by surprise. They should always expect the worse. Now they will start to rebuild in the same spot so it can happen again next year. People never learn from mistakes until it kills them. Sad. Nature is more powerful than humans.

  61. I wanted to check to see how many people blamed or negatively mentioned Trump in the comments. Three. We live in incredibly stupid times indeed. How many tropical storms did we blame on Mr Obama? Looking on the bright side, however, no one appears to be blaming George Bush for things of this nature any longer.

  62. @Americus
    We didn't blame President Obama because he took active measures to counter climate change. the dump is doing everything he can to exacerbate it.

  63. When human beings cooperate, we can do extraordinary things (e.g., the moon landing). When human beings hate each other, we can ruin everything (e.g., the last century's two world wars). What's worse -- to grab the hands of strangers and pull together, away from a looming threat, or to fight with each other even as the threat begins to swallow us? Climate change is what it is. But we can choose -- do we unite and work together to subdue the challenge, or point fingers, shout and throw stones while our world collapses?

  64. There was no surprise, we were warned for days, people in Florida have to assume the worst when it come to these storms and to assume otherwise is foolhardy. Prepare for the worst and if it does not materialize, kiss your derriere that you were lucky and no one suffered anything but an inconvenience But to assume nothing or it will just blow over , and it hits and you are destroyed. Well you are the fool. I live here too and have no mercy or pity on those who chose to sit it out when they could have boarded up and hightailed it to better climes for a few days..

  65. I'll be darned. Al Gore was right afterall.

  66. Temperatures rising, daily records being set all over the world. Oceans rising, coral reefs bleaching out, storm surges and flooding worse everywhere. Michael is third worst to hit US in history. Wild fires worse and more often; Calif. fire season now year round. But hey big Don (the scientist ya know) says it's all a Chinese hoax. Our Fla governor forbids state employees to even use the term climate change. People dieing and economies hit for repairs and clean up. GET OUT OF THE WAY lame self serving corrupt politicians before you ruin the world for our children and grandchildren.

  67. The " Chinese Hoax " is NEITHER. Wake up, People.
    VOTE in November. And vote wisely.

  68. Meanwhile on Fox news there is no mention of global warming or the new UN report

  69. I see that the deniers are out, and trying the old tricks.

    1. The “weather guessers,” told us, and keep telling us, that warming the planet and its oceans will have consequences.

    2. Among these consequences are a) bigger, wetter hurricanes; b) more powerful hurricanes.

    3. Sea temps in the Gulf were far warmer than usual. For all their complexity, hurricanes are basically turbines, fueled by heat. That same heat also increases evaporation, which loads the storm with water.

    Oh, well. They’ll rebuild in much the same ways in much the same places, and we’ll help pay. I mean, it’s not like we can pretend they’re P——- R——, a far-off foreign land that holds no Americans. There’re votes to be grabbed.

    And cheer up, deniers. With Trump as President, you’ll get your bellowing denial of reality. You’ll have your “we’re white people/ and we don’t care.” You’ll keep rewarding the wealthiest and most irresponsible. For a while.

    Please vote.

  70. Wait and see how Don the Con and the GOP will spin that they are the ‘Real Victims’ of Hurricane Michael and climate change/global warming.

  71. That the scientific consensus on climate change is correct is more and more frequently illustrated, with record-breaking heat waves, drought, floods, and storms (hurricanes and typhoons). This is the new "normal", and just a sign of what we are leaving future generations if we do not act NOW. The latest report on climate change is sitting on Trump's desk, but no worries--he hasn't got the attention span or intelligence to read it. GOP climate change deniers are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. Floridians put a governor in office who is just like the rest of his GOP ilk. VOTE in this next election for representatives who will work to protect us from climate change. With funds for education and research and support for truly sustainable energy, the US could be the leaders in this effort. Nature sure will have a devastating effect on your children and grandchildren, if not us in the next few years.

  72. Gulf warmer than usual. I wonder why?

  73. “There’s still stuff we don’t know about hurricanes,” Dr. Klotzbach added.

    My God, what would we do without 'experts'?

  74. @Plennie Wingo
    Ridiculous. You live in Switzerland, and I know that there are Swiss people who get killed all the time in avalanches. You'd think Swiss would know everything there is to know about avalanches, and yet you people still manage to go out and die in them. So why can't your avalanche experts prevent that?
    Your comment is a reflection in how little people know and understand about science in general. It's not a cut-and-dry, right-left, right-wrong thing. There's a hypothesis, there's experimentation, there's analysis, further experimentation, observation, more observation and more observation that goes into it. Of course there are things that we don't know about hurricanes.

  75. "escalated on Wednesday into the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental United States in decades."

    Did you forget about Hurricane Maria?

  76. @Matt Kuzma
    Maria hit Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles. They're not part of the "continental United States."

  77. “...to hit the continental US in decades.”

    See, there have been stronger storms before. Just another made up reason by the fake news media to support the climate change hoax. Once upon a time it was hotter, then colder (it was called an Ice Age), now it’s hotter. Anyway, how do they know the temperatures 10,000 years ago? They didn’t have computers. The reason this storm seems so bad is because they have more cameras and TVs to make it seem worse. Just look at pictures of old hurricanes and you’ll see it was worse back then. And there are more people now so the impact is more felt and more important, so they’re paying attention more now.

    <break...>

    Ok — I wanted to feel what it’s like to be a climate change denier. It feels like a bunch of non sequitors cobbled together in an erratic fashion. Now that that’s over, scratch everything I said above!

  78. Not nice to mess with mother nature.