Natural Disasters

How Hurricane Otis became the second fastest-intensifying hurricane

Otis encountered water surfaces as warm as 31 degrees Celsius, right before its devastating encounter with Mexico

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 01 November 2023

On October 25, 2023, a category 5 storm hit the beach town of Acapulco, Mexico with winds reaching 266 km per hour. The storm, named Hurricane Otis, ravaged the city and the state of Guerrero, killing at least 45 people while another 47 people remain missing.

The storm also caused flooding, tore down rooftops, submerged vehicles and messed up communications as well. But the worst part of it all is that Mexico couldn’t foresee the disaster and had little to no time to set up defences.

So, how did that happen? Within a mere 12 hours, Otis rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to the area’s strongest storm on record. The wind speed of Otis also soared by 185 kilometres per hour (kmph) in just 24 hours, making it the second fastest-intensifying hurricane in recent history.

This sudden increase in storms is termed ‘rapid intensification’, a phenomenon that is getting more common in specific global regions. Rapid intensification is defined as an increase in maximum sustained winds of at least 55 kmph in 24 hours.

As per various reports, the warming planet is directly contributing to more intense and erratic storms. As the ocean surface experiences unprecedented warming, it also intensifies the formation of hurricanes.

For context, Hurricane Otis encountered water surfaces as warm as 31 degrees Celsius, right before its devastating encounter with Mexico. Authorities stated that more than 220,000 homes and 80 per cent of the resort city have been affected.

Apart from this, 513,000 people have lost power. The cost of devastation The cost of damage from the hurricane could climb as high as $15 billion according to estimates. Around 10,000 armed forces have also been deployed to rescue and aid those stricken by the catastrophe.

Several people have claimed that the government has not done enough to aid the people of Acapulco as the city’s population of nearly 900,000 became increasingly desperate for food and water.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador accused his critics of trying to capitalise on the situation, just ahead of the presidential election. As climate change warms the surface of the oceans, more and more intensified hurricanes can be expected in the near future.

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