Less than a year after Hurricane Ian hammered Florida’s Gulf Coast, the region is bracing for another potentially major hurricane. Hurricane Idalia (pronounced ee-DAL-ya) was off the western tip of Cuba with sustained 75 mph winds early Tuesday morning and is expected to rapidly intensify into a Category 3 storm by the time it makes landfall with life-threatening storm surge Wednesday morning. Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, increases the likelihood of a hurricane developing into major (Category 3 or higher) storm, makes storm surge more widespread dangerous due to rising sea levels and other factors, and increases the likelihood of rapid intensification as extremely warm ocean temperatures supercharge storms. Rapidly intensifying storms, no matter their strength, are especially dangerous because make preparation and evacuation less predictable, thereby increasing the danger to those unable to do so and exacerbating underlying other societal inequities.
Spiking gasoline demand for evacuations and generators is also hitting constrained supply as fuel-carrying barges are being stopped ahead of the storm and — completely separate from the storm — a “human error” caused gasoline at some Citgo-supplied gas stations in Idalia’s path to be contaminated with diesel fuel. (New York Times $, Yale Climate Connections, Tampa Bay Times, Axios, AP, AP, CNN, Reuters, Axios, Tampa Bay Times, CNN, NBC, NPR, Weather Channel, Heatmap $, Gizmodo, Axios, Bloomberg $, AP; Gulf Coast water temps: Washington Post $, New York Times $; Fuel barges: Bloomberg $; Fuel contamination: AP, The Hill; Biden-DeSantis: Bloomberg $, Axios; Climate Signals background: Hurricanes)