The acting director of the National Hurricane Center cautioned CNN host Don Lemon against linking Hurricane Ian directly to climate change in a Tuesday night interview.
Jamie Rhome joined Lemon on his show “Don Lemon Tonight” to discuss the expected impact of Ian ahead of its landfall in Florida, when the liberal host questioned how climate change is impacting the hurricane.
“Can you tell us what this is and what effect climate change has on this phenomena?” Lemon asked in regards to the storm’s “rapid intensification.”
Rhome brushed the question aside.
“We can come back and talk about climate change at a later time,” he said. “I want to focus on the here and now. We think the rapid intensification is probably almost done.”
Lemon, however, didn’t let up on the issue.
“Listen, I’m just trying to get, you said you [don’t] want to talk about climate change — but what effect does climate change have on this phenomenon that is happening now?” he asked, doubling down. “Because it seems these storms are intensifying. That’s the question.”
Rhome then warned the news anchor against crediting climate change for any singular event — though he acknowledged the belief that climate change could be making storms stronger overall.
“I don’t think you can link climate change to any one event,” he replied. “On the whole, on the cumulative, climate change may be making storms worse. But to link it to any one event, I would caution against that.”
Here’s everything to know about Hurricane Ian:
Lemon seemed to rebut the expert’s answer.
“Listen, I grew up there [in Florida] and these storms are intensifying — something is causing them to intensify,” Lemon said.
He later said that he never witnessed storms of today’s strength when he was growing up on the Gulf Coast.
That same day, a colleague of Rhome’s at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — the parent agency of the National Hurricane Center — told Bloomberg that the reason hurricanes are getting more powerful is due to warmer ocean water caused by climate change.
“It’s a known effect of climate change,” NOAA oceanographer Greg Foltz told the outlet. “Increasing ocean heat is causing strong hurricanes to become stronger.”
Ian made landfall in the Sunshine State as a Category 4 monster with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour Wednesday. By the evening, it was downgraded to a category 3 storm.