Saturday, December 3, 2005

Hurricane Epsilon

The National Hurricane Center has released its final summary on the 2005 hurricane season, in which it calls this year "the most active on record." Meanwhile, the Onion has this bit of news on an upcoming storm to hit the area.

In an update to this story, Tropical Storm Epsilon, the record-breaking twenty-sixth named storm of the 2005 Hurricane Season, became Hurricane Epsilon on December 2 when its maximum sustained winds reached 120 kph (75 mph), just one notch above the threshold for a serious tropical storm being considered a Category-1 hurricane.

Hurricane Epsilon is the record-breaking fourteenth hurricane in an official storm season. A few weeks ago Hurricane Beta, the first hurricane ever to have a Greek letter, had broken 1969's prior record of twelve hurricanes in one season. The twenty-six storms of this season shattered 1933's prior record of twenty-one storms and had us going, for the first time ever, into the Greek alphabet.

2005 now also holds the record (three: Rita, Wilma, which was briefly the most powerful hurricane ever recorded, and of course, Katrina [see article on problems still facing Katrina victims]) for the greatest number of Category-5 storms, the top rank on our current scale with winds of 250 kph (155 mph), almost as fast as the KTX and Shinkansen bullet trains we have in these parts.

The storm season officially ends on November 30, but Epsilon was already a named storm by then. Hurricane Epsilon is only the fifth December hurricane recorded in the past 120 years (the latest ever was on December 30, in 1954). Even if this trend continues, there is no word on extending the official season, which is meant to encompass 97% of major storms. [The National Hurricane Center website has a great FAQs page, which includes myth debunking info. This could be useful information for us here in typhoon territory.]

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