Will Events Like Hurricane Otis Become More Common?

Rapidly intensifying hurricanes are hard to predict. Research suggests that climate change may be making them more frequent.

Jonathan Lin and Suzana Camargo
November 02, 2023
Damage from Hurricane Otis at the Mexican port of Acapulco
Damage from Hurricane Otis at the Mexican port of Acapulco.

Hurricanes can sometimes undergo rapid intensification, which by definition is an intensification of 35 knots, or 40 miles per hour, in a 24-hour window. To give a sense of how fast this intensification is, 35 knots is the difference between a Category 1 hurricane and a Category 3 hurricane. Extreme rapid intensification can be particularly dangerous, especially if the rapid intensification occurs right before landfall, since there is not much time to evacuate coastal areas that are at risk for weather-related hazards.

Unfortunately, just last week, Hurricane Otis did just this, as Otis achieved Category 5 intensity right before it made landfall near Acapulco, Mexico. Otis had one of the most extreme intensification rates ever observed…

Visit Columbia News to read the full op-ed.