The Death Toll of Hurricane Maria

Op-Ed: Hurricane Ian and the coming climate crash The last time Hurricane Ian pounded the Caribbean, global warming was not yet taking effect. In August of 2016, Hurricane Matthew devastated Barbuda; Hurricane Irma devastated…

The Death Toll of Hurricane Maria

Op-Ed: Hurricane Ian and the coming climate crash

The last time Hurricane Ian pounded the Caribbean, global warming was not yet taking effect.

In August of 2016, Hurricane Matthew devastated Barbuda; Hurricane Irma devastated the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico; and Hurricane Maria, a category 5 storm, slammed on Puerto Rico, bringing the island’s power grid and infrastructure to its knees. Each of these hurricanes, along with a series of other storms over the past two-three years, was caused by climate change.

Hurricane Maria caused Puerto Rico to endure one of the highest death tolls in U.S. history. At least 3,975 people died as a result of Maria, a death toll that is now surpassed by Hurricane Katrina as the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Hurricane Maria took the lives of at least 3,975 people, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Hurricane Maria caused Puerto Rico to endure one of the highest death tolls in U.S. history. At least 3,975 people died as a result of Maria, a death toll that is now surpassed by Hurricane Katrina as the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

How has climate change played into the disaster?

Hurricane Maria’s death toll is likely a result of four distinct causes.

First, as the planet continues to warm, sea levels are rising and the storm surge is becoming more unpredictable. These two factors combined to produce extremely dangerous hurricane conditions for the island’s population.

Second, the storm’s deadly winds, surge and flooding were all tied to climate change.

Third, Hurricane Maria was one in a series of hurricanes that were the result of unusually warm sea surface temperatures, especially in the eastern Caribbean. These warm waters combined with unusually strong storms pushed the storm to its maximum intensity, generating the storm’s immense amount of rain.

Fourth, the extreme weather events were tied to climate change, but only indirectly. As climate change continues, more storms like Hurricane Maria will be hitting the Western Hemisphere and causing even more deaths.

In 2016, the world was more than twice as concerned about climate change as it was in 1985. At the same time, the global community has not done

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