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This week, we discuss the latest climate change-driven disaster to hit the U.S., and what Hurricane Ian can tell us about the electric grid’s fate — and solar’s potential — as extreme weather becomes even more common.

Crews work to clear a tree that fell on power lines on Cole Mill Road following Tropical Storm Ian on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Durham, N.C.
Crews work to clear a tree that fell on power lines in Durham, North Carolina, this weekend. Credit: Kaitlin McKeown / The News & Observer via AP

Hurricane Ian hit Florida last week as a Category 4 monster, knocking out power for nearly 2.7 million customers before causing more damage through the Carolinas. In all, Ian left behind a death toll of at least 100 people — and its full impact isn’t even clear yet.

What is clear is that superstorms like this one will only become more common as climate change warms ocean waters. Karthik Balaguru, a climate scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, tells the Washington Post that Ian is the latest in a string of hurricanes that rapidly gained power as they approached the shore, catching residents and forecasters off guard with their intensity.

And while it’s likely not a welcome message for anyone who just lost their home, federal aid to Ian victims has come with a word of caution from FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell: “Make informed decisions” before rebuilding in a disaster-prone area.