Friday, August 17, 2007

Major Hurricane Dean

Hurricane Dean became a Major Hurricane today (See post titled "TD-4 Forms, Saffir-Simpson Scale" 8/13) as it achieved category 3 status. It has winds of 125mph, which means its already half way to category 4 status. Dean is expected to continue to strengthen. Right now, Dean is in the eastern Caribbean Sea, south of Puerto Rico.

Here is the current radar out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on which I pointed out the Eye of Dean, its movement, and Puerto Rico.

Dean is expected to head west before turning a bit more northwest. As you can see in the image below, this would take Dean over the Yucatan Peninsula, then towards Southern Texas.

This is a particularly bad situation for a number of reasons. First off, the Gulf of Mexico is a breeding grounds for hurricanes. With water temperatures often in the upper 80's, storms can rapidly intensify. Katrina is a perfect example. Katrina was a weak hurricane as it moved over Florida. Within 24-36 hours, it blew up into a category 5 storm. Interacting with the Yucatan Peninsula will probably weaken Dean some to counteract this, but Dean could still explode, especially if it misses the Yucatan.

Texas also just got hit with torrential rains from Erin and many places have had a record breaking summer for rain anyways. A powerful hurricane would only intensify these problems. Stay tuned for more as the days go on!

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