Hurricane Amanda Blows All Other Storms Out of the Water
As of 8am Friday morning, an area of low pressure in the Eastern Pacific had strengthened into Tropical Storm Amanda. This seemingly innocuous storm began to churn faster, and became the first hurricane of the 2014 season by 8am Saturday. And by 8am Sunday, Amanda had grown into a monster storm just shy of Category 5 strength.
This makes Amanda the strongest May hurricane ever on record.
Impressive Strengthening. This storm is a great example of “rapid intensification”. The National Hurricane Center previously defined a tropical cyclone as having rapidly intensified when the minimum central pressure decreased by 42 millibars over a 24 hour period. Amanda dropped from 989mb to 932mb in the 24 hour period between 8am PDT Saturday and 8am PDT Sunday. That’s 57mb of change!
However, rapid intensification it is now defined using an increase in the maximum sustained winds of a tropical cyclone, not decreasing pressure. This is the official definition from the National Hurricane Center:
Amanda’s wind speeds increased from 75mph to 155mph in the 24 hour period between 8am PDT Saturday and 8am PDT Sunday. That’s an increase of 80mph in 24 hours — more than double the threshold for rapid intensification!
(FYI – to be a Category 5 storm, sustained winds would only need to reach 156mph — so close!)
Maximum Strength? Amanda has likely reached peak intensity, but it will take some time before it weakens to a lesser hurricane or even back to tropical storm status. This is the forecast track, which weakens the storm gradually throughout the next few days.
We’ll have continued updates on Amanda and plenty more weather across the nation throughout the day. Tune in and watch! And have a safe and happy Memorial Day. -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers
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