24 October 2013

Hurricane history: Sandy and Wilma

SANDY

One year ago this morning, Sandy intensified to a hurricane just south of Jamaica.  By the morning of October 25th, it rapidly intensified to a Category 3 hurricane with 115mph winds as it made landfall on the southeastern coast of Cuba.

Visible satellite image of Hurricane Sandy on the morning of October 24, 2012.
Model guidance was coming into better agreement on a track that would bring Sandy into the New Jersey coast as a very large cyclone on October 29th, possibly not tropical, but still very potent.  Below is a clip from my blog post one year ago:
"The ominous forecast by last night’s ECMWF deterministic run places an incredibly strong cyclone off the New Jersey coast on Monday evening... with tropical storm to hurricane force winds covering every state between Virginia and Maine. A scenario such as this would be devastating: a huge area with destructive winds, extensive inland flooding, possibly heavy snow on the west side, and severe coastal flooding and erosion."
To read the rest of that post, see Sandy strengthens to hurricane on approach to Jamaica; odds of East Coast impact grow

WILMA

Another significant hurricane anniversary is that of Hurricane Wilma in 2005.  On the morning of October 19th, Wilma smashed rapid intensification AND intensity records in the Atlantic when a reconnaissance plane found a central pressure of 882mb.  It went on to hit the Cozumel/Cancun area of the Yucatan peninsula as a high-end Category 4 hurricane, then turned sharply to the northeast with a bullseye on the Florida peninsula.

Wilma's track... intensity is color-coded, and dates are marked at 0000 UTC (the "24" marker is  0000 UTC on Oct 24, or 8pm EDT on Oct 23).
Eight years ago today, Wilma plowed into the southern tip of Florida as a Category 3 hurricane.  I have several long radar loops of Wilma available at http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/tropics/radar/index.html#wilma05, and a satellite image from shortly after landfall is shown below.


Nearly all of south Florida (west and east coasts) was without power after Wilma went through, and wind gusts over in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area were in the 100mph range.  It left a swath of destruction and flooding from the Keys up to north of Lake Okeechobee.

Not only is it the 8-year anniversary of Wilma's landfall on Florida, it's also the 8-year anniversary of the last time a major hurricane made landfall ANYWHERE in the U.S.!  For a more detailed description of just how odd this major hurricane landfall "drought" is in the U.S., see my blog post from nine days ago: Tropics extremely quiet in Atlantic; record drought in major U.S. hurricane landfalls

As always, thanks for reading and sharing!


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