Posted by Brian at 12:37 PM
Grandmama's Coming to Town
Not really--it's just that the latest freak hurricane shares my grandmother's name.
There has never been a hurricane like Wilma before. With an unbelievable round of intensification that saw the pressure drop 87 mb in just 12 hours, Wilma smashed the all-time record for lowest pressure in an Atlantic hurricane this morning. The 4 am hurricane hunter report put the pressure at 882 mb, easily besting the previous record of 888 mb set in Hurricane Gilbert of 1988. Since no hurricane hunter airplane has been in the eye since then, Wilma may be even stronger now. The eye diameter of Wilma during this round of intensification shrunk as low as 2 nautical miles, which may be the smallest eye diameter ever measured in a tropical cyclone. The only eye I could find close to that small in the records was a 3 nm one, the Category 4 Typhoon Jeliwat in 2000. It's amazing the hurricane hunters were even able to penetrate the eye--it's really tough to hit a 2 mile wide eye when you're flying crabbed over at a 30 degree yaw angle fighting horizontal flight level winds of 185 mph and severe turbulence. This is an incredibly compact, amazingly intense hurricane, the likes of which has never been seen in the Atlantic. The Hurricane Season of 2005 keeps topping itself with new firsts, and now boasts three of the five most intense hurricanes of all time--Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.
They're saying it won't be nearly as intense when it finally gets to where I am, partly because it will have crossed over a few landmasses by then--the Yucatan, Cuba, and the Everglades, none of which do much by themselves, but cumulatively can weaken it--and from the wind shear from the low pressure system which is supposed to make it essentially reverse course. That said, it could hit the Everglades as a strong 3/weak 4 and since it won't slow down that much, we could see some severe winds and rain even on the east coast of Florida.