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Hurricane Lorenzo

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Lorenzo has traveled further north and east than any other Category 5 hurricane, according to Andrew Latto, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. A Category 5 storm is the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Hurricane Lorenzo has reached a peak of sustained winds of 160 mph and has reached roughly 1,420 miles southwest of the Azores, a group of islands home to about 250,000 people in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Within a few days, it lost strength, becoming a Category 2 hurricane. It still had a broad range, with tropical force winds spanning about 500 miles. It reached Ireland, becoming an extratropical cyclone and was renamed as Storm Lorenzo with winds of 80 mph. The Irish Meteorological Service warned of heavy rainfall, fallen trees, and possible flooding on October 3. Storm Lorenzo is expected to turn towards Great Britain and continental Europe, although the weather effects will not be as severe. 

Lorenzo has been the second Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic this year, the first being Hurricane Dorian. Hurricanes typically don’t become this strong because of colder temperatures and wind shear conditions, but in this case, the water was warm enough for it to develop so much more. Additionally, there appeared to be a high-pressure area in the Western Atlantic, blocking the hurricane from moving towards North America.

Researchers find that Hurricane Lorenzo is following a trend observed for the past 30 years, where the point at which tropical cyclones reach their peak intensity has gradually shifted closer to the poles. Essentially, northern hemisphere hurricanes are maintaining intensity even as they travel further northward. According to Tim Hall, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Spaces Studies, this is consistent with the claim that the oceans are warming. Abnormal, record-breaking hurricanes such as Hurricane Lorenzo may be indicative of climate change.

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