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Climate change could drive natural disasters

Posted at 9:10 AM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 12:10:07-04

SAN DIEGO — In the wake of Hurricane Ian, experts say climate change puts costal communities like ours in the crosshairs of natural disasters.

Meteorologist Alex Tardy said we've seen historic heat this past decade, fueling power storms like Hurricanes Ian and Kay.

"When you add warmer temperatures to the atmosphere, warmer temperatures in the ocean, you're basically adding more energy to the atmosphere," said Tardy. "It doesn't necessarily mean you get more storms. But the magnitude of those storms, when they do occur, can be more intense."

That's far from the only consequence of rising temperatures.

"The warmer atmosphere creates glacier melt, and that contributes to higher sea levels," said Tardy. "You'll see more flooding because that water doesn't have anywhere to go, and it piles up along the shoreline."

Meantime, Santa Ana winds could send hot, dry desert air rushing through San Diego County as fast as 70 miles per hour, as early as October. Tardy said windy weather is becoming more common, but not always guaranteed.

"There's not a lot of predictors of the amount of Santa Ana winds, or even the intensity, beyond two weeks," said Tardy.

But in the middle of our historic drought, Tardy added, "Santa Ana winds could potentially be a problem. The actual forecast for fire potential this fall is above average. If you do get a fire start, the fire will have a potential ... especially if it's wind-driven like Santa Ana ... to grow really large and rapid."