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Was Hurricane Ian Caused by Climate Change?

Khadija Boufous Khadija Boufous
30th September 2022
Was Hurricane Ian Caused by Climate Change?
Climate change can make hurricanes move more slowly (Getty).

Social media users posted shocking videos of flash floods and storms as Hurricane Ian struck Florida with high winds and heavy rain destroying residential areas and dragging debris away. Misbar has been monitoring the hurricane narratives and has addressed numerous false claims and clips that have been posted in relation to the disaster.

Other social media users are spreading posts claiming that the hurricane was caused by climate change. Misbar investigated the claim and discovered no scientific evidence proving that climate change is the primary cause of Ian. "Ian is a climate change hurricane," wrote one verified Twitter account.

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Conspiracies Spark Following a CNN Interview

During an interview with Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center, CNN anchor Don Lemon inquired about the extent to which climate change contributed to the hurricane.

“Well we can come back and talk about climate change at a later time. I want to focus on the here and now,” Rhome said.

Anchor Don Lemon asked a follow-up question: “What effect does climate change have on this phenomenon? It seems these storms are intensifying. That's the question.” However, he did not get a satisfying answer after the expert said: “I do not think you can link climate change to any one event.” 

“On the whole, on the cumulative, climate change may be making storms worse, but to link it to any one event, I would caution against that,” the expert added.

The interview clip went viral on social media, and users alleged Don Lemon was blaming Ian hurricane on climate change and pushing “the climate change narrative.” 

Others suggested different conspiracy theories approaching the media’s response to the climate change issue and its threats.

Our previous blog about climate change media denialism stated that many activists insisted that political lobbies and stakeholders were working to deny climate change in order to serve their interests and agendas without regard for the planet Earth or future generations.

Does Climate Change Cause Hurricanes?

Experts have confirmed that climate change can contribute to warmer waters, which in turn contribute to stronger storms. 

However, scientists are unsure whether climate change has an impact on the number of hurricanes that form each year.

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Photo Description: Experts confirmed to Reuters that climate change makes hurricanes wetter.

As Hurricane Ian hits Florida with a rapid intensification, scientists told CBS News that the hurricane process getting very strong and fast became more frequent and connected to the impact of human-caused climate change.

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Photo Description: A screenshot from The Washington Post article on Hurricane Ian’s strength.

“Rapid intensification happens when a tropical cyclone that already has some organization moves over very warm water and within an atmospheric environment of calm surrounding conditions and a moist, unstable air mass,” Dr. Richard Knabb, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida told CBS News.

“All of these factors were clearly in play before the rapid intensification of Ian, which is why rapid intensification was anticipated fairly far in advance. Not every storm that encounters these conditions strengthens, sometimes due to internal structural changes that are hard to anticipate, but Ian did.”

The experts agreed that climate change is a factor in hurricane intensification because warmer ocean water fuels stronger storms but did not confirm that climate change is the principal cause of the Ian hurricane.

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“Climate change is likely also contributing to hurricanes moving more slowly, increasing the duration of winds, storm surge and rainfall that leads to flooding near the coast as well as inland,” the report concluded.

Hurricane Ian Hits Florida With Strong Wind and Rain

Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States' mainland, wreaked havoc on southwest Florida with high winds and rain. 

At least ten people have died in the state, buildings have been damaged throughout the state, and more than 20 Cuban migrants have gone missing.

Strong 150mph winds knocked out power to over 2 million homes and businesses on Wednesday afternoon.

The storm was downgraded from a category four to a category one as it moved slowly northeast, causing major flooding, according to the Guardian. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, President Biden declared a state of emergency.

The White House announced that federal assistance would be dispatched to supplement local response efforts. At the same time, the National Hurricane Center issued a warning for "life-threatening flooding, storm surge, and strong winds" in the Carolinas, according to the Washington Post.

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Users on social media have shared dramatic and shocking videos of high winds and heavy rains. Weather forecasters who have covered dozens of storms said they had not seen anything like Hurricane Ian in more than 30 years.


Misbar’s Sources


The Guardian

Fox News

CBS News

The Washington Post



The Washington Post