Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two Cat 4 Hurricanes At Once

After rapid, unexpected, explosive intensification late Tuesday into early Wednesday, Hurricane Julia reached Category 4 strength this morning, making it the most intense hurricane to ever occur so far to the east in the Atlantic Ocean. Julia is only a little weaker than Hurricane Igor, also at Category 4 strength today. Having two hurricanes of similar, major intensity at the same time is incredibly rare. This situation has only happened once before (on record). September 16, 1926 is the only other time we know of since 1900 that had two Category 4 hurricanes occurring simultaneously in the Atlantic basin (Hurricane #4 and the Great Miami Hurricane). In fact, getting two major (category 3 or stronger, if only briefly) hurricanes at the same time is rare to begin with. It's only happened nine previous times on record:

1933 (Storms #11 & #12)
1950 (Dog & Easy)
1951 (Easy & Fox)
1955 (Hilda & Ione)
1958 (Helene & Ilsa)
1961 (Carla and Debbie)
1964 (Dora &Ethel)
1969 (Camille & Debbie)
1999 (Floyd & Gert).
(Archive data released by the National Hurricane Center)
What is going on in the Atlantic right now is incredibly rare and noteworthy. (It is important, though, to also mention that we didn't have reliable satellite information on storms until after the space age, of course...meaning there may have been hurricanes well into the Atlantic like Julia that were missed or not properly recorded the first half of the 20th century). Both of these powerful hurricanes, Igor & Julia, will remain well away from the U.S. However, Bermuda is poised to receive a direct hit from Igor, which may still be at major hurricane strength when it passes over the tiny Atlantic island this weekend.