On Thursday, Hurricane Lee rapidly intensified to a Category 5 before being downgraded to a Category 4. The storm is expected to fluctuate in strength as it continues its track through the Atlantic Ocean.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as of Friday Hurricane Lee was located 550 mi. (885 km) from the Lesser Antilles and over the weekend is expected to bring dangerous surf and rip currents to the Caribbean — including the British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.
Since 1990, 88% of hurricanes in the North Atlantic have undergone rapid intensification, and some experienced an extreme level of this phenomenon. Some scientists will attribute these astronomical numbers to better scientific tools for observation, but the truth is our climate is changing. As the planet warms, simmering sea surface temperatures are fuel to feed these super-intense and enormous storms that have and will continue to threaten the life and property of rapidly growing coastal communities.
While the rapid intensification of hurricanes is happening and the phenomenon is on the rise, we can't ignore the fact that tropical cyclones are a necessary natural process for the planet. A cyclone simply pulls heat from the oceans in an upward motion and distributes it outward into the atmosphere toward the poles. The purpose of these storms is to regulate the planet's temperature. Without them, the weather systems we're used to would go unregulated — ultimately humanity must also appreciate the importance of these powerful storms.
There's a 50% chance that there will be at least 8 hurricanes in the North Atlantic in 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.