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Tropical Storm Elsa is the latest evidence climate change is happening now

Tropical Storm Elsa is the latest evidence climate change is happening now

Tropical Storm Elsa became the earliest fifth named storm on record Thursday, the latest weather-related record this year that climate scientists warn is linked to climate change.

While Elsa, whose maximum sustained winds are 45 miles per hour, is unlikely to inflict the same amount of damage as a stronger hurricane if and when it makes landfall, its formation on July 1 — following Ana, Bill, Claudette and Danny — fits into a pattern in which the changing climate makes conditions for life-threatening storms more favorable.

For the past seven years, named storms have arrived ahead of the official June 1 start of hurricane season, including this year with Tropical Storm Ana, which formed on May 23. In 2020, which tied 2016 as the hottest year recorded by humans, a record 30 named storms formed, including six major hurricanes.

While the continued rise in global surface and water temperatures has expanded the parameters of hurricane season, factors such as stronger wind shear can impede the formation of storms that might have otherwise been named, the New York Times reported. Still, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast 13 to 20 named storms this year, and Elsa’s early arrival means the season is well on its way to fulfilling that prediction.

It has already been a year of unprecedented weather events. Two record-breaking and deadly heat waves in the Western U.S.; record rainfall in Michigan, which overwhelmed Detroit’s aging storm water system; a record-breaking winter storm in Texas, which disabled the state’s power grid; the historic drought gripping nearly the entire western part of the country; and an unusually early start to so-called wildfire season in California — all of these events have been linked to climate change.

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