Extreme Temperature Diary- Thursday October 26th, 2023/Main Topic: Hot Seas Probably Played a Big Role in the Intensification of Otis.

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme, or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Hot Seas Probably Played a Big Role in the Intensification of Otis.

Dear Diary. Before Otis fades into history, we need to emphasize how much climate change played a part in its deadly role. As far as the Western Hemisphere goes, Otis was the deadliest and most destructive climate crisis event of this fall so far. Yesterday we indicated how a record warm Mexico influenced waters that fueled Otis to the tune of being a 165 mph CAT5 hurricane before landfall. Today I’m, doubling down on this claim since I’m seeing others coming to the same conclusion.

Here are water temperature anomalies worldwide:

Notice that Mexico is surrounded by some of the most anomalous warm water on the planet. As an aside, notice the two small blue colder than average areas west of Mexico. This is where Otis and Hurricane Norma that interacted with the Baja Peninsula produced upwelling in their wake, bringing cold water to the Pacific Ocean’s surface.

Here is more from the Washington Post:

How global warming led to Hurricane Otis’ intensification – The Washington Post

How hot seas may have fueled Hurricane Otis’s sudden intensification

By Scott Dance

October 26, 2023 at 11:44 a.m. EDT

A street is strewn with debris after Hurricane Otis ripped through Acapulco, Mexico on Wednesday. (Marco Ugarte/AP)

Off-the-charts warmth in the world’s oceans, so widespread and so far beyond anything ever observed, has stunned climate scientists and meteorologists for months. It set the stage for deadly floods and put Earth on track for a record-warm year.

Hurricane Otis stunned scientists anew. It intensified more quickly than any tropical cyclone ever observed in the eastern Pacific as it passed through 88-degree surface waters. The 165 mph winds it whipped into Acapulco were stronger than anything Mexico’s west coast is known to have endured from a tropical cyclone.

Again, a surge of ocean warmth likely provided extra fuel for a storm that probably would have hit anyway, but might not have transformed so dramatically — and so quickly that it gave communities little time to prepare.

“It was a bit of an extra boost,” said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach. “When you have waters that are this hot, it does load the dice for rapid intensification.”

Specifically, warm waters well beneath the surface of Otis’s path may have cleared the way for its development, scientists added. Cooler water at depths of 150 feet often inhibits tropical cyclones, as they churn it to the surface.

People walk along a road washed away near Acapulco after the passage of Hurricane Otis on Wednesday. (Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP/Getty Images)

People stand near street stalls damaged by Hurricane Otis near the entrance to Acapulco on Wednesday. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

But ahead of Otis, “It wasn’t just warm at the surface,” said Karthik Balaguru, a climate and data scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “You had high ocean heat content. Those are definitely favorable conditions for rapid intensification.”

Meteorologists define rapid intensification as a 35 mph increase in a tropical cyclone’s maximum sustained winds within 24 hours. Compared to a string of storms that rapidly intensified before striking the United States in recent years, Otis was almost in another category — its wind speeds increased by 110 mph within 24 hours.

That intensification occurred as Otis moved northward toward southern Mexico in waters with surface temperatures around 88 degrees.

That is only slightly above normal in that part of the eastern Pacific, while the development of a strong El Niño climate pattern means surface waters farther south, along the equator, are more anomalously warm. But it is still “super hot,” Klotzbach said, and plenty warm to fuel rapid intensification.

A growing body of research has linked warming oceans with an increasing likelihood of rapid intensification. A study published in 2017 modeled that rapid intensification would become more frequent and severe as the planet warms.

More recent research suggests that is indeed happening, at least with the most extreme storms.

Residents wait for aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Otis in the Mexican state of Guerrero on Thursday. (Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg News)

2018 study found that, among storms that strengthened most quickly, their rates of intensification increased by about 4 mph per decade from 1986 to 2015. Research published last year found that “extreme rapid intensification” of tropical cyclones is occurring more frequently. Researchers looked at storms that increased by 50 knots, or 57 mph, within a 24-hour period.

And in a study published last week, researchers said they found intensification has become more likely and is occurring more rapidly in the Atlantic basin.

The lead author of the most recent findings said Wednesday that while they do not apply directly to Otis and the Pacific basin, it is clear that warmer waters are conducive to faster-forming and faster-intensifying storms anywhere. In a hotter world, such overnight storm transformations are exactly what scientists have learned will be possible, said Andra Garner, an assistant professor at Rowan University in New Jersey.

“Actually seeing it happen like we did with Otis is a different thing,” Garner said. “It’s still a bit mind-blowing, I think.”

Exactly how the planet’s record warmth may have contributed to Otis’s rapid development will take months if not years to untangle, said Kerry Emanuel, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It’s possible record global heat in July, August and September helped contribute to warmth deep into the water column, he said.

In that part of the Pacific, a layer of relatively fresh water close to the surface acts as a cap on top of water that is saltier and typically cooler below. It could be that the surface waters were holding that summer warmth in place in Otis’s path, Emanuel said. But he added that he could not be sure until more data and analysis become available.

“You might find waters 40 to 50 meters down warmer than they would have been had we not had this hot summer,” he said.

Much More:

Here are some “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks, as well as any extreme precipitation reports:

More September 2023 Climatology:

Here is More Climate and Weather News from Thursday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Today’s News on Sustainable, Traditional Polluting Energy from Fossil Fuel, and the Green Revolution:

More from the Weather Department:

More on the Environment:

More on Other Science and the Beauty of Earth and this Universe:

If you like these posts and my work on record temperature ratios, please contribute via my PayPal widget on this site. Thanks in advance for any support. 

Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”

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