Hurricane Dean Becomes Third Strongest Atlantic Storm To Ever Make Landfall

Good morning everyone. I’m in a bit of a rush since I have to go to work in a bit, but I’m going to try and hurry a blog entry through before I leave. With Hurricane Dean strengthening prior to its first landfall along the Yucatan Peninsula near Chetumal early Tuesday morning, it became not only the seventh Category Five Hurricane in the last five years as well as the ninth most powerful of all time in the Atlantic Basin, but also it became the third strongest Atlantic Hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the region. Dean’s minimum central pressure dropped to 906 millibars prior to coming ashore, which placed it behind the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 (892 mb), and Hurricane Gilbert (888 mb), another storm to make landfall in the Yucatan back in 1988.

When I first hear this on the radio while driving to work on Tuesday morning, I immediately reacted by saying that was wrong. The reason I felt that way was because the way the person on the radio referred to it, which is similar to the headline in the Yahoo article that I’ve linked to above. The headline stated that Dean was the third most intense hurricane ever, which is not correct. While it is still one of the most intense storms ever in the Atlantic, it is not the third most intense. As mentioned above, it is the ninth strongest behind Hurricane Camille (1969) and Hurricane Mitch (1998). It is also ahead of Hurricane Ivan (2004). The strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin was Hurricane Wilma back in October, 2005 with a minimum central pressure of 882 millibars. Wilma is then followed by Gilbert, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Rita (2005), Allen (1980), Katrina (2005), Mitch, and Camille.

Another interesting statistic is that six of the top ten most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic have occurred within the last ten years or so Mitch (1998), Ivan (2004), Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005), and now Dean (2007). Looking at the top twelve, you then have all seven Category Five Hurricanes in the last five years, and all eight in the last ten when you add Hurricane Isabel (2003) to the mix. This can be further proof that the recent trend in hurricanes has seen increased intensity according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and can be fuel to the fire for the debate about the relationship between Global Warming and Hurricane Intensity.