Chris White | Energy Reporter
Sen. Bill Nelson said Thursday that man-made global warming is partially to blame for Hurricane Michael smashing into portions of the state’s panhandle.
“The Gulf of Mexico was four degrees hotter than is usual … Listen to the scientists … and they’ll tell you that the earth is heating up and the ferociousness of these storms is as a result, in part, of that heating up,” Nelson, a Democrat, said on CNN.
Michael is the fourth most powerful hurricane to ever hit the U.S, according to wind speed measurements, and it is one of the strongest October storms to ever hit the country.
Michael “picked up in a short period of time, that extra strength fueled from that hot water of the Gulf of Mexico, and then that was what was so surprising to everybody and so deadly as it approached the coast,” Nelson added.
Warmer water and air temperatures, as well as extremely low air pressure systems, can produce the energy needed for any storm to become a massive hurricane in the Atlantic. Without that dynamic, hurricanes would be nothing more than large storms.
Scientists have urged caution about drawing any kind of conclusions from the processes at work.
Many of them are asking media talking heads and journalists to avoid making any direct links between global warming and the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, along with other natural disasters. Some are still pushing the idea, including politicians who argued Hurricane Florence was also due, in part, to climate change.
But an analysis of Florence’s path from meteorologist Ryan Maue showed ocean temperatures were “abnormally cool” for most of the storm’s September trek through the Atlantic Ocean. Some climate scientists agreed.
Maue’s analysis not only showed that Florence formed, then strengthened, over relatively cool waters, but rapidly weakened once it reached warmer waters near the U.S. coast, University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Michael Bastasch in September.
Forecasters expected the storm to strengthen, but it was torn apart by wind shear, he added. (RELATED: Scientists Throw Cold Water On Claims Linking Hurricane Florence To Global Warming)
Nelson is running for re-election in November against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.