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Throwback Thursday – A look back at the strongest pre-August hurricane

Well, let’s start with some good news! All is quiet in the tropical Atlantic right now, and nothing appears like it’ll develop over the next few days as a layer of dry Saharan dust likely caps any potential development.

July is typically when we first start seeing tropical systems develop, usually in the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico, but tropical systems are usually not particularly strong at this point of the season. That’s what made Hurricane Emily an incredible storm in the middle of an incredible season.

Nine years ago (2005, if you’re bad at math like me), Emily developed in the central Atlantic and tracked westward, tearing through the Lesser Antilles of the eastern Caribbean before twice plowing into Mexico, even impacting extreme south Texas after her final landfall.

What makes Emily special, however, is that on July 16th of 2005, the storm achieved Category 5 status with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles an hour and saw its central pressure drop to an astonishingly low 929 millibars, officially making it the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever before the month of August (and besting Hurricane Dennis’ record, set just six days before!).

A look at Emily at peak strength, just south of Jamaica, courtesy of the Navy:


Emily went on to make three landfalls- along the northern part of the island nation of Grenada, then along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, then in the Tamaulipas Province of northern Mexico (just to the south of Texas), causing a billion dollars in damage and killing 17 people over five countries.

Hurricane season typically peaks in late August through September, so while nothing’s imminent now, we’ve got a long way to go, and as always, we’ll keep you posted with all the latest right here on WeatherNation.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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