Climate Change’s Hand in the Cause of Hurricane Laura and the California Wildfires

by Kaushal Kumar

In August of 2020, the United States has faced some of the most powerful weather systems that it has ever run into. Hurricane Laura struck the Southern Coast with storm surges over 20 feet tall, with reports claiming that in hotspots the storm would be “unsurvivable.” On the other side of the United States, we see roaring wildfires displacing thousands and covering the Silicon Valley with a thick layer of smoke. All of this while the world faces the Coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of more than 180,000 Americans in less than a year. Climate scientists believe these patterns are here to say and the growing impact of climate change is partially to blame for the unprecedented wildfires and hurricanes.

When Hurricane Laura touched ground in the US it was classified as a Category 4 hurricane, with the potential of storm surges of over 20 feet and winds over 150 mph. It is expected to be one of the 10 greatest hurricanes to ever reach American land according to CNN. Hurricane Laura forced the evacuation of thousands of residents living on the southern coast and left another 400,000 Americans in the Southern Louisiana-Texas region without power.

With the increasing temperature of our globe scientists expect record-setting storms like Laura to become more common. The warmer weather and water are like “recharging batteries” for hurricanes and will cause future storms to be stronger than the ones in the past. Scientists also believe that the change in climate will cause more rain during the storms, which could lead to increased flooding and damages.

But climate change is not only affecting hurricanes, it also may be partially to blame for the extent of the wildfires scorching Northern California, which have burned close to a million acres of forest and still are not close to being fully contained.

Wildfires have always been a part of the Californian ecosystem, but recently fires have been becoming stronger and creeping into areas where fires rarely go. This is due to the heat and reduced moisture that we are seeing in the air and the forests in the state, greatly due to global warming. Becky Bolinger, Colorado’s assistant state climatologist explained, “When you have warmer temperatures and you’re lengthening the warm season, you’re also lengthening the time when wildfires have a chance to start and grow.”

These unusual and dangerous weather patterns seem to be just the tip of the iceberg on what may become the new normal if the world does not begin to take serious action against climate change.