Sunday, October 25, 2015

More about Hurricane Patricia

I have been thinking about the explosive nature of Hurricane Patricia and what this means in a context of the most powerful storms in history.  There is a little bit of blur when it comes to defining what the most powerful storm actually was.  Some of this has to do with the way that storms are classified and differences in storm wind measurement methods, but lest break it down.

Hurricane Patricia had maximum winds of 200 mph.  This is an obscenely huge number and it beats out the previous record held by Gilbert at 190 mph quite handily.  These winds are 1 minute sustained wind speeds.

There are other storms, notably the Labor Day hurricane that came close, and if we had the technology to look at what the storm was doing before it laid waste to the Florida Keys there is a possibility that it was comparable if not stronger, but we cannot extrapolate that data from what we have.

In the Western Pacific the strongest storm is generally listed as Super-Typhoon Tip in 1979.  Tip has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, but this was also a 10 minutes sustained wind speed, which is a much different measurement than the 1 minute sustained winds of Patricia.  The normal conversion factor from 10 minute to 1 minute sustained winds is an increase of 14%, although I am guessing there should be some fudge factor in there, so lets add 20%.  This would give a 1 minute conversion of 192 mph.  This is a ridiculous speed, but still less than the 200 of Patricia.

Tip did have a much lower central pressure, and was also not observed (because of technical limitations) as closely as Patricia was.

Another factor that has to be taken into account, although Tip may not have been, at its peak, as intense as Patricia was Tip was HUGE.  This is a HUGE with all caps huge.  At its peak Tip was 1380 miles across!  This is near the size of the United States west of the Mississippi river from Mexico to Canada.

So even if Tip was not as intense in its core the total energy across that immense expanse was orders of magnitude greater.

Oh well, my two cents.

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