Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wilma A 'Monster' Cat 5 - Updated

In a matter hours overnight, Hurricane Wilma climbed the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale from Category 1 to 5, the maximum. As of 5 am EDT, the National Hurricane Center was saying, "Wilma is near its maximum potential intensity and further strengthening is not anticipated."

The forecast track has again been nudged westward, but not significantly. NHC experts continue to forecast that once it enters the Gulf "weakening should begin" and the storm should turn east toward the Florida peninsula "with an increase in forward speed."

There is substantial uncertainty, however. As the Naples Daily News {free registration required) reports this morning, "Hurricane Wilma may hit Collier County directly as a Category 3 storm over the weekend. It also might miss the area by 300 miles."

5 am Update

The Pensacola News Journal's storm commentator, Derek Ortt, observes early this morning that:
"Wilma has become the most intense hurricane, ever. This will be confirmed after the season, pending a calibration of the data. Minimum pressure recorded by the aircraft was recently reported to be 884mb, 4mb lower than the minimum pressure recorded in Hurricane Gilbert."
He also advises that, "Residents of Pensacola should continue to monitor the progress of this, in case the track changes."

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