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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hurricane Felix Cat. 5- A New Record Looming?

As a weather dork, I have of course been following this system since it was a tropical wave in the Eastern Atlantic. In 40 hours, Felix has gone from a 35mph unnamed tropical depression to a 165mph Category 5 hurricane. Even more impressive, Felix has strengthened from 75mph to 165mph in 18 hours due to the almost non-existent wind shear and high ocean heat content. The only thing that will effect Felix's intensity now until landfall are eye wall replacement cycles. The minimum pressure is very high for a storm of this intensity at 930mb, but since the surrounding atmosphere is also at a higher pressure, the gradient is sufficient to generate winds of this magnitude (for comparison, in 2005 when Wilma reached 150mph winds, she was at 901mb).

This is an interesting snippet from the Hurricane Hunters investigating the storm this evening:
It is heading still mostly west, and northwest. It apparently is still strengthening, Recon ran into enough turbulence and graupel (hail) to abort the mission after the last drop, which is rare event for the hurricane hunters. (I'm sure it's an interesting story -- a note from the Special discussion says, "A dropsonde released in the southwest quadrant landed in the northeast quadrant." -- lightning was also found in all four quadrants of the hurricane. Which is reserved normally for extremely rapid intensifying systems that still aren't done intensifying.)
Right now hurricane force winds only extend 15 miles from the center, but this will change as the storm evolves. There is no reason why this storm should not impact Central America as a Cat. 5 storm.


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