Bill McKibben warned us three decades ago that climate change would create a series of devastating phenomena that we have never before seen, and we are already starting to see that prediction come true. On Saturday evening, for the first time in recorded history, three category 4 hurricanes were churning in the central and eastern Pacific basins at the same time as illustrated in the above satellite image. Two of the hurricanes have since subsided, but the incident should be a major wake-up call for anyone still insisting that climate change is normal.
Eric Blake, a specialist with the National Hurricane Center tweeted on Saturday: “Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak- 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record!” It is also the first time three storms larger than a category 3 have appeared in those basins at the same time. The tweet was accompanied with a rather ominous gif of Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena brewing in the Pacific, each with maximum wind speeds of 130-156 mph.
NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center knew in May that we could expect an above normal season in the Central Pacific Basin this year.
“For 2015, the outlook calls for a 70% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season, and a 5% chance of a below-normal season. We expect 5 to 8 tropical cyclones to affect the central Pacific this season. An average season has 4-5 tropical cyclones, which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes,” according to a press release published at the time.
The group attributes this season to El Niño’s decreasing the vertical wind shear over the tropical central Pacific, resulting in an increase of stronger tropical cyclones. NOAA adds that “El Niño also favors more westward-tracking storms from the eastern Pacific into the central Pacific. This combination typically leads to an above-normal Central Pacific hurricane season.”
Climate change and El Niño make formidable foes for the rest of us. In his most recent post on Medium, McKibben says of President Obama’s visit to the Arctic, where he has authorized Shell to dig for yet more oil:
“Now, presidents can’t do everything physics demands on climate change. For one thing, Republicans get in the way. And for another we obviously can’t shut down all use of fossil fuels overnight, though in terms of climate change that would be smart. All we can do is move as quickly as possible towards a renewable future. Which is precisely why we shouldn’t even consider opening up a vast new pool of oil, one that we won’t even be able to tap for 10 or 20 years. When you’re in a hole the first rule is stop digging — and yet we’ve just given Shell a giant shovel.”
Via Earth Sky
Lead image via NASA