All Weather News

Our First Cat 5?

13 Sep 2010, 3:18 pm
Visible satellite image of Hurricane Igor. Courtesy: CIMSS

So it seems that we may have the first cat 5 of this hurricane season. At the moment, Igor stands at 150 mph sustained winds, a very strong category 4 hurricane. If he reaches sustained winds of 155 mph, Igor will be a category 5. It’s not often you see cat 5 hurricanes–between 1924 and 2007, 32 hurricanes were recorded at category 5 strength. We average less than one category 5 hurricane a season. Only four times have multiple category 5 hurricanes formed: 1960, 1961, 2005 and 2007. 2005 was a historical year as it is the only year on record in which we’ve had more than two category 5 storms form. In 2007, it was the first time we’ve had more than one category 5 hurricane make landfall.

Keep in mind that our technology has improved greatly allowing for “early detection” of a cat 5 hurricane. Satellites are such an incredible tool. The image on your left gives us an amazing view of Hurricane Igor–just look at that defined eye! It is because of satellites that we are able to track hurricanes well before they make landfall. They also give us valuable information on the hurricane’s intensity. Vern Dvorak actually developed a technique to allow us to estimate a hurricane’s intensity based on the images we receive from satellite. You can learn more about it here: The Dvorak Technique. In fact, in using this technique, it is evident that Igor rapidly intensified from a category 2 to a category 5 hurricane in LESS than 12 hours.

Satellite animation of Hurricane Igor

While the United States may be dodging a bullet here, Bermuda might be a different story. Here’s Igor’s latest track:

Hurricane Igor's Track

This isn’t the only storm we’re watching. There’s also Tropical Storm Julia that has been dousing the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of mainland Africa:

Tropical Storm Julia's Track

And we may have Karl on our hands soon:

The low in the Caribbean has a 40% of tropical development in the next 48 hours.

It’s still looking very active in the tropics… We’ll keep watching!

Susie Martin
WeatherNation Meteorologist

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *