Wilma confirmed as strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded

by reposted Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005 at 6:45 AM • www.indybay.org

Wilma's top sustained winds reached 175 mph early Wednesday in the most rapid strengthening ever recorded in a hurricane, said Hugh Cobb, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. At the same time Tuesday, Wilma was only a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph.

Its confirmed pressure readings Wednesday morning dropped to 882 millibars _ the lowest minimum pressure ever measured in a hurricane in the Atlantic basin, according to the hurricane center.

Forecasters said Wilma was stronger than the devastating Labor Day hurricane that hit the Florida Keys in 1935, the strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall on record. Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 was the previous record holder for lowest pressure at 888 millibars, but it weakened before making landfall in Mexico.

But Wilma wasn't expected to keep its record strength for long, as higher disruptive atmospheric winds in the Gulf of Mexico around the hurricane should weaken it before landfall, Cobb said. Gulf water temperatures are about 1 or 2 degrees lower than those in the Caribbean, which should inhibit its strength more, he added.


Wilma threatens US in record hurricane season

by more Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005 at 7:04 AM

The southern coast of the US is bracing itself for another hurricane at the end of a storm season as busy as any on record.

Wilma, which yesterday strengthened from a tropical storm to a category 1 hurricane, with winds of around 75mph, was moving east through the Caribbean between Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and western Cuba. Prediction models suggested it would strike Florida's Gulf coast as a category 3 hurricane this week.

Authorities in the Cayman islands urged residents to be on alert as Wilma's system moved nearer, delivering heavy rains and strong winds. In Jamaica, heavy rainfall flooded several low-lying communities, blocked roads with mud and forced 100 people to move to emergency shelters.

Officials said that a 35-year-old man drowned in central Jamaica after he was swept away by a rain-swollen river while trying to rescue some goats. Wilma is the Atlantic hurricane season's 12th hurricane and its 21st named storm, tying the record set in 1933, and last equalled in 1969.

It has also exhausted the available list of storm name letters, since q, u, x, y and z are not used. If any more storms form this season letters from the Greek alphabet would be used. That has never happened in the 60 years that Atlantic storms have been named.

Read More http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article320559.ece

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