This past Wednesday, Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, causing devastation up and down the Nature Coast of Florida. This same hurricane also spun up some severe weather from Georgia to the Carolinas.

Right before landfall, Idalia’s winds intensified by 45 mph in just 24 hours which is a process known as “rapid intensification.” One of the main factors that causes hurricanes to undergo rapid intensification are warm sea surface temperatures. For Idalia, sea surface temperatures were in the high 80s, which created the perfect environment for the storm to strengthen. A big reason why sea temperatures were so warm was because of human-caused climate change.

According to NOAA, the Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures in August showed an increase of one and a half degrees Fahrenheit. If these waters are just one or two degrees warmer on average, it makes a huge difference in the development of hurricanes.

Rapid intensification has become more common recently because of the impacts of climate change. This intense strengthening has been noted in hurricanes like Ian, Harvey, Ida and Michael.

The Atlantic hurricane season still hasn’t reached its peak, so there’s still opportunity to experience more of these very intense storms. The hurricane season will come to a conclusion on November 30th.