Wilma Now Most Intense Atlantic Storm Ever
Gathering strength at a fierce pace, Hurricane Wilma swirled into the most intense Atlantic storm ever recorded Wednesday, a Category 5 monster packing 175 mph wind that forecasters warned was "extremely dangerous."Yeesh.
And just yesterday - less than 24 hours ago - this storm was barely a hurricane.
Wilma's top sustained winds reached 175 mph early Wednesday in the most rapid strengthening ever recorded in a hurricane, said meteorologist Hugh Cobb of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. At the same time Tuesday, Wilma was only a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph.Should weaken. That's good news. Still, it amazes me how fast these storms intensify.
Its confirmed pressure readings Wednesday morning dropped to 882 millibars — the lowest ever measured in a hurricane in the Atlantic basin, according to the hurricane center. The strongest on record based on the lowest pressure reading is Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which dipped to 888 millibars.
Typically, the lower the pressure, the faster the air speeds. But because the pressure around each storm is different, lower pressure doesn't always correspond to a specific wind speed.
Forecasters said Wilma was more powerful than the devastating September 1935 hurricane that hit the Florida Keys, the strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall on record. 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.
It is expected to hit Florida this weekend.
Oh - and hurricane season doesn't end until November 30th.
P.S.: Check out this tidbit:
The hurricane is the record-tying 12th of the season, the same number reached in 1969. That is the most for one season since record-keeping began in 1851.1969 is the same year Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast - the most destructive storm to hit there, until 2005's Katrina took that dubious honor.
National Hurricane Center