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Hurricane Epsilon strengthens against all odds

As of the 4PM EST Public Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Epsilon has strengthened as a Category One hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph and a central pressure of 985 mb. The eye of the hurricane is 930 miles west of the Azores and moving to the east at 12 mph.

Hurricane Epsilon is maintaining a narrow ring of convection surrounding the eye. The ring remains moderately deep and wraps around the whole eye forming a solid eyewall. Beyond that, outflow remains week but present and the storm is remarkably symmetric. This is a very impressive hurricane for the central Atlantic in December. NHC's advisory strength of 80 mph winds is actually selling Epsilon short. Recent satellite estimates are placing the hurricane's winds near 90 mph. Epsilon is truly an amazing storm considering its strength and location.

It is amazing that Epsilon has strengthened given its location. NHC notes that the only factor that should physically be contributing positively towards Epsilon's strength is the upper level temperature. Beyond that, cooler sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and an increasingly hostile environment should have caused Epsilon to weaken by now. Especially considering the cool water below Epsilon, the hurricane was expected to transition to an extratropical storm by now. However, there are no signs of that transition occurring. In fact, the GFDL model is maintaining Epsilon as a warm-core system for the foreseeable future.

Seeing no physical processes capable of continuing to support Epsilon as a hurricane, the forecast does continue to call for Epsilon to weaken. However, this has been the forecast for days now. This hurricane, like Vince before it, seems to have no concern for precedent and the laws of physics. The models are no longer tracking Epsilon towards the northeast and instead are pushing Epsilon due east in the short term. The result of this is that Epsilon will not be traveling over as dramatically cooler SSTs. In a few days in Epsilon is still intact, which is expected at least as a remnant low, the models are now turning the system to the south. This will bring whatever is left of the storm back over warmer waters. Things just keep getting more interesting. This is a truly unusual hurricane!
0:Track Map
1:Visible Satellite
2:Infrared Satellite
3:Microwave Satellite
4:Computer Models
5:Model forecast track and SSTs
6:Cyclone core temperature forecast

Posted by Bryan Woods | Permalink