Publication Date February 4, 2016 | International Research Institute for Climate and Society

International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Hurricane Patricia. Image: NOAA
Hurricane Patricia. Image: NOAA

In October 2015, Hurricane Patricia became the strongest storm ever measured by the National Hurricane Center. But what really worried authorities was the speed at which Patricia amassed her strength. The storm’s sustained winds increased from 85 miles per hour to 200 in 24 hours– the greatest 24-hour rise in intensity ever observed in the satellite era...

Now, a new study in the journal Nature Communications shows that Patricia is the rule rather than the exception—the most intense storms are those that undergo rapid intensification during their lifetime. Moreover, the study shows that tropical cyclones which undergo rapid intensification are responsible for extreme storms being more frequent than expected.

Exploring this relationship is going to be important, says [Chia-Ying Lee, a postdoctoral research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society]. The vast majority of intense storms, like hurricanes Patricia and Katrina, Typhoon Haiyan and Cyclone Nargis, are rapid intensifiers and ones we worry about most from a risk perspective, she says