Hurricane Julia Shatters Seasonal Records

By Chris Mooney | September 15, 2010 7:12 pm

There’s a reason Jeff Masters stands unrivaled as our top hurricane blogger. Let me just quote his analysis of Hurricane Julia, after the storm surprisingly reached Category 4 intensity yesterday:

This morning’s unexpected intensification of Hurricane Julia into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds has set a new record–Julia is now the strongest hurricane on record so far east. When one considers that earlier this year, Hurricane Earl became the fourth strongest hurricane so far north, it appears that this year’s record SSTs have significantly expanded the area over which major hurricanes can exist over the Atlantic. This morning is just the second time in recorded history that two simultaneous Category 4 or stronger storms have occurred in the Atlantic. The only other occurrence was on 06 UTC September 16, 1926, when the Great Miami Hurricane and Hurricane Four were both Category 4 storms for a six-hour period. The were also two years, 1999 and 1958, when we missed having two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes by six hours. Julia’s ascension to Category 4 status makes it the 4th Category 4 storm of the year. Only two other seasons have had as many as five Category 4 or stronger storms (2005 and 1999), so 2010 ranks in 3rd place in this statistic. This year is also the earliest a fourth Category 4 or stronger storm has formed (though the fourth Category 4 of 1999, Hurricane Gert, formed just 3 hours later on today’s date in 1999.) We’ve also had four Cat 4+ storms in just twenty days, which beats the previous record for shortest time span for four Cat 4+ storms to appear. The previous record was 1999, 24 days (thanks to Phil Klozbach of CSU for this stat.)

WHEW. Here’s an amazing picture (again, from Masters) of the two Category 4s over the open Atlantic earlier today:

Two Category 4s

Comments (3)

  1. Yale W.

    The areas in the North Atlantic not normally favourable for developing major hurricanes are now opening up to increased activity as a result of changes in ocean currents and the effects of global warming. The area east of the Azores to the Iberian Peninsula, the southern Mediterranean, areas northeast of Newfoundland and parts of the South Atlantic will all likely become open to hurricanes in the decades to come. Places not used to seeing tropical cyclones will suddenly get them, as Brazil did in 2004 with Cyclone Catarina, and even that occurred more than half a century ahead of schedule as predicted by projections of climate warming.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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