Group: Super ModEARator
Joined: April 1992
||Posted: Oct. 18, 2005, 1:18 pm
Hurricane Wilma forecasted to hit Florida, become a Category 3 hurricane with winds exceeding 111 mph
The National Hurricane Center says that Wilma has grown to hurricane level, and the latest map shows its largest probability path as well as the surrounding "bubble" of potential landfall areas making landfall along the peninsula of Florida (including Walt Disney World) as well as the potential of the storm going across parts of the Florida panhandle. The Disney Cruise Line's ports of call (including home base of Port Canaveral and Castaway Cay) are also in the area where Hurricane Wilma could go.
One of the computer projections actually shows the eye of Hurricane Wilma going over Walt Disney World and the Orlando metro area!
Below is the latest map (as of 11 AM EDT Tuesday, 10/18/05) from the National Hurricane Center of Hurricane Katrina's predicted area of landfall, with all the computer models averaged into the white dotted line ...
Click here to see the map larger.
For the latest information and the latest forecast map information, click here.
From the Associated Press:
October 18, 2005, 11:01 AM EDT
Wilma strengthened into a hurricane today on a path that could threaten Florida, Cuba and Mexico, tying the record for the most hurricanes to form in an Atlantic season.
Wilma is the 12th hurricane of the season, a number reached once before in 1969 since record keeping began in 1851. At 11 a.m. EDT, Wilma had top sustained winds of near 75 mph, just above the 74 mph threshold to be a hurricane.
Long-range forecasts show Wilma could hit western Cuba or the Yucatan Peninsula before heading into the Gulf of Mexico by Friday. The storm could also spare those countries while passing through the narrow Yucatan Channel. Either way, computer models showed Wilma bearing down on Florida over the weekend.
It is forecast to become a Category 3 hurricane with winds exceeding 111 mph by Thursday. Conditions such as warm water and favorable atmospheric winds in the northwestern Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico indicate strengthening, forecasters said.
"It does look like it poses a significant threat to Florida by the weekend. Of course, these are four- and five-day forecasts, so things can change,'' said Dan Brown, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Six hurricanes have hit Florida since August 2004, causing more than $20 billion in estimated damage and killing nearly 150 people in the state. Another hurricane, Rita, brushed by the Florida Keys last month. Wilma was on a path that could threaten coastal areas hit by Hurricane Charley last year.
Wilma first entered the history books Monday, becoming the Atlantic hurricane season's 21st named storm before dawn, tying the record set in 1933 and exhausting the list of storm names.
At 11 a.m., Wilma's center was about 195 miles south-southeast of Grand Cayman and about 200 miles east-northeast of the Nicaragua/Honduras border. It was moving northwest near 7 mph.
The Gulf Coast was already battered this year by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Dennis, while Emily hit Mexico. The areas devastated by Katrina will likely be spared by Wilma.
"There's no scenario now that takes it toward Louisiana or Mississippi, but that could change,'' said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.
The Cayman Islands were under a hurricane watch, meaning those conditions could be felt within 36 hours. A tropical storm warning was posted there and for the Honduran coast, meaning those conditions were expected within 24 hours. The storm is expected to bring 2 to 6 inches of rain in the Caymans, southeastern Cuba, Haiti, Honduras and Jamaica, with as much as 12 inches possible in some areas, forecasters said.
Since 1995, the Atlantic has been in a period of higher hurricane activity. Scientists say the cause of the increase is a rise in ocean temperatures and a decrease in the amount of disruptive vertical wind shear that rips hurricanes apart. Some researchers argue that global warming fueled by man's generation of greenhouse gases is the culprit.
Forecasters at the hurricane center say the busy seasons are part of a natural cycle that can last for at least 20 years, and sometimes up to 40 or 50. They say the conditions are similar to those when the Atlantic was last in a period of high activity in the 1950s and 60s.
It's difficult to know whether the Atlantic was even busier at any time before record keeping began. And satellites have only been tracking tropical weather since the 1960s, so some storms that just stayed at sea or hit unpopulated areas before then could have escaped notice.
The six-month hurricane season ends Nov. 30. Wilma is the last on the list of storm names for 2005; there are 21 names on the yearly list because the letters q, u, x, y and z are skipped. If any other storms form, letters from the Greek alphabet would be used, starting with Alpha. That has never happened in roughly 60 years of regularly named Atlantic storms.
"We've got six weeks to go, so a lot of things can happen,'' Mayfield said, noting that there have been 10 late-season hurricanes Category 3 or higher since 1995.
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