Friday, March 14, 2008

Through the eye of the storm…

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began early in 2007, & by mid-December it was still going. The season officially begins June 1 & ends Nov. 30. That means that for the most part, storms have formed & fizzled between those dates, or they used to.

NASA satellites were watching & providing data from the beginning when Andrea kicked off the season on May 9 when she formed 150 miles northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida. On Dec. 10, 2007, Sub-Tropical Storm Olga formed to the east of Hispaniola.

The hurricane season produced 2 tropical depressions & 15 tropical storms, six of which became hurricanes. That's a little more than average. The storms that became hurricanes were: Dean, Felix, Humberto, Karen, Lorenzo & Noel.

Double Trouble With Category 5 Storms

Of special note, there were two Category 5 hurricanes which led to a "first." It was the first time two Category 5's made landfall in one season. Both storms, Dean & Felix, made landfall in Central America. Hurricane Dean made landfall near Costa Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula on Aug. 21, packing sustained winds near 165 mph. Dean then moved into the Gulf of Campeche to make a second landfall near Tecolutla, with 100 mph winds as a Category 2 storm.

Twelve days after Dean's first landfall, Hurricane Felix made landfall near Punta Gorda, Nicaragua on Sept. 2 with sustained winds of 160 mph. Dean was also noteworthy for another reason, it was the first Category 5 hurricane to make an Atlantic Ocean basin landfall since 1992, when Andrew hit south Florida.

Which Ones Affected the Mainland U.S.?

The mainland U.S. was hit by five storms during the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season. There was one hurricane, three tropical storms & one tropical depression that affected the U.S. Hurricane Humberto made landfall along the upper Texas coast on Sept. 13. Tropical storms that hit the U.S. were Barry, Erin & Gabrielle. Barry came ashore on June 2 near Tampa Bay, Florida. A weak Tropical Storm Erin hit southeast Texas on August 16. Tropical Storm Gabrielle made landfall along the Cape Lookout, North Carolina National Seashore on Sept. 9. Tropical Depression Ten made landfall near Fort Walton Beach, Florida late on Sept. 21.

Humberto Was the Season's Fastest Grower

It only took Humberto 24 hours to go from a tropical depression with sustained winds of 35 mph to a hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph. There were only three other storms in recorded history that strengthened from a depression to a hurricane in 24 hours: Celia in 1970, & Arlene & Flora 1963. Other storms have intensified faster if one considers the net intensity change over 24 hours. For example, Wilma in 2005 went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 storm in less than 24 hours. That may be the most rapid rate of intensification ever, but starting from tropical storm stage rather than tropical depression stage.

Noel Was Deadliest

Hurricane Noel was the deadliest storm of the 2007 season, as it killed 122 people in the Dominican Republic & Haiti when it passed through there as a tropical storm in late October. News reports indicated 664 homes were destroyed & an additional 15,600 were damaged in the Dominican Republic, while Haiti reported 4,850 houses damaged, 1,075 completely destroyed, & crop losses from floods & mudslides.



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