Hurricane Dean at Landfall

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Hurricane Dean had the third lowest landfall central pressure of any Atlantic Hurricane. This is after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935.

Maximum winds were 165 mpg with gusts reaching 200 mph with a centeral pressure of 906 mb.

The 1935 Labor Day hurricane (892 mb) which hit the Florida Keys.
Hurricane Gilbert (900 mb estimated) hit Cancun, Mexico in 1988.

Only 8 other Category 5 Hurricanes have hit land in recorded history: Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (165 mph winds at landfall) and Hurricane Camille in 1969 were two others.

Hurricane Wilma (2005) remains the strongest Atlantic hurricane with 882 millibars while the strongest Pacific storm was Typhoon Tip (1979) with 870 mb and 190 mph winds.

Hurricane Dean is now a Major Hurricane

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After watching Hurricane Dean all week, Hurricane Dean has strengthened significantly today. As of the 11pm advisory Dean has 145 mph winds and a 937mb central pressure. Models and the NHC forecast continued strengthening over the next 24 hours. No matter how you slice it an extremely dangerous storm.

Currently the model consensus has Dean passing directly over Jamaica. Several things should be noted. If the eye of Hurricane Dean does pass directly over Jamaica, the high elevations of Jamaica should disrupt the storm significantly. Simiarly, if the eye passes near enough to Jamaica the mountainous terrain will likewise disrupt Dean, the question is how much of an impact the mountains will have.

All that said, it will be interesting to see how accurate the models are. Given that we are still around 40 hours away from a potential Jamaica impact, much can changed based on the speed that Dean continues to move westward. Dean’s westward speed will determine how much various features (e.g. the high over the SE US right now) move Hurricane Dean around. A slowing Dean (now 18 mph speed) will probably lead to a more southerly track whereas a faster moving Dean would lead to a more northerly track the farther out you go.

Up to 72 hours models are generally pretty accurate (some exceptions such as Hurricane Erin in 1995 when bad data was entered) so take precautions now. For more than 48 hours, everyone from Florida, through the Gulf Coast down to Central America should watch this storm and be prepared to take action as directed by local authorities. As you can see (as of 11pm, August 17, 2007), the NHC has a large area still in the 5% Tropical Storm Force Wind Speed Probabilities.

Preparation is key.