A few weeks back, I focused a "storm pundit" entry on 2007's Hurricane Felix, a powerful September Atlantic storm that had been officially deemed more powerful still thanks to a post-season data analysis by the National Hurricane Center.
Felix, according to that reanalysis (PDF), sported 150 knot (nearly 175 mph) winds at its peak. And the storm intensified super fast to reach that point. A relatively small hurricane, Felix leapt from a minimal Category 1 storm into a Category 5 in just 24 hours, intensifying by 85 knots over the course of that period. In the archives of Atlantic storms, only 2005's Hurricane Wilma strengthened faster.
All of which makes Felix sound pretty impressive but now the hurricane center has come out with its final report (PDF) on 2007's other Category 5 Atlantic storm, August's Hurricane Dean. Just as was the case with Felix, Dean too has seen some upgrades, all of which have tended to make the storm even stronger and more fearsome than initially supposed.
First, Dean rapidly intensified itself, strengthening 60 knots in 24 hours. Second, the storm re-intensified to reach its peak strength of 150 knots just before landfall a strength equal to that of Felix, but one that was actually felt by a coastline in this case.
Indeed, the new report from the National Hurricane Center depicts an ever-strengthening Dean during the final hours before this monster smacked the Yucatan Peninsula and estimates that Dean's pressure dropped as low as 905 millibars before landfall. That means the storm is now officially tied with 1969's Hurricane Camille and 1998's Hurricane Mitch for the seventh-lowest pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic.
Jeff Masters, perhaps our top hurricane blogger, has some insight into all of this. He points out the following with respect to Dean and Felix:
It is remarkable that half of the globe's Category 5 storms in 2007 occurred in the Atlantic basin, which normally has only about 11% of the globe's tropical cyclones. The globe's strongest tropical cyclone was an Atlantic storm (Dean, 175 mph winds), which is also unusual.
Actually, Dean and Felix now seem to have tied for the globe's strongest ... which, of course, is still unusual.
All in all, the 2007 global hurricane season was pretty average, according to Masters. But Dean and Felix, both of which took their place alongside top record-holding storms for the Atlantic region, were the kind of anomalies that make you sit up and pay attention.
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