Skip to comments.POWERFUL STORM HITS SOUTHERN BRAZIL COAST (First Hurricane recorded there)
Posted on 03/27/2004 6:47:45 PM PST by varina davis
Powerful Storm Hits Southern Brazil Coast
Mar 27, 8:28 PM (ET)
By BERND RADOWITZ
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) - A large storm spiraled toward southern Brazil on Saturday as a debate raged between Brazilian and U.S. meteorologists over whether it was a hurricane.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Florida estimated the storm was a full-fledged, Category I hurricane with winds of between 75 and 80 mph, making it the first hurricane ever spotted in the South Atlantic. AccuWeather, Inc., a private forecasting company, said it also considered the storm a hurricane.
Brazilian scientists disagreed, saying the storm had top winds of 50 to 56 mph, far below the 75 mph threshold of a hurricane. The state of Santa Catarina put its civil defense on alert Saturday night, warning of high waves.
The U.S. forecasters said the worst part of the storm would hit Brazil early Sunday somewhere between the cities of Florianopolis and Porto Allegre, a span of about 130 miles. The Brazilians said the storm could peter out before then.
"Winds and rains will not be significant, so we don't need to alarm the population," said meteorologist Dr. Gustavo Escobar of the Brazilian Center for Weather Prediction and Climatic Studies.
U.S. scientists said they were baffled by the Brazilian position.
"We think the Brazilians are, quite frankly, out to lunch on this one," said Michael Sager, an AccuWeather meteorologist. "I think they're trying to play it down and not cause a panic. I don't know what they're doing, but they're obviously wrong."
All sides said they were basing their estimates on satellite data, since the United States has no hurricane hunter airplanes in the area and Brazil doesn't own any.
Satellite images showed a spiral-shaped mass of clouds with an open area in the center. Escobar called it an "extra-tropical cyclone."
Sager said the storm had a clear, well-defined eye and that it had lasted for more than 36 hours. Storms that are not hurricane-strength sometimes form strong eyes, but not for that long, he said.
Kelen Andrade, another meteorologist with the Brazilian center, said the storm was swirling only in a clockwise motion and was not showing motion in the opposite direction at higher altitudes, another mark of a hurricane. Sager disagreed.
"If you know what you're looking at, you can see that counterrotating quite readily," he said.
He predicted the storm would make landfall at hurricane strength just before dawn near the town of Torres.
Earlier Saturday, the outer edges of the storm brushed the coast of Brazil's southern Santa Catarina state with winds estimated at about 25-30 mph and moderate rains, Escobar said. The area is about 430 miles south of Rio de Janeiro.
Winds in nearby Florianopolis, a city of 700,000, were only about 12 mph, rainfall was mild, and no damage was reported, said meteorologist Kelen Andrade.
Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said the eye of the storm was near 29 degrees south latitude and 48 degrees west longitude by Saturday evening. That would place it about 50 miles east of the city of Laguna.
"To us, it has all the satellite appearance and intensity of a hurricane," Beven said. "I don't know what data (the Brazilians) are looking at. They may have data services locally that don't go out on the national data service."
He said no agency is sending out regular hurricane advisories on the storm.
"Down there, this is such a rare and unique event. The whole situation is strange," Beven said. "We're trying to help out, but because of the uniqueness of this event, it may be out of their expertise to some degree."
As I understand it, Cyclones are in the Pacific, Hurricanes in the Atlantic. This sure looks like a hurricane to me.
The term "Hurricane" is used for tropical systems with sustained winds above 75 mph in the Atlantic, AND the Eastern Pacific.
The term "Typhoon" is used for similar storms in the Western Pacific Only.
In the Indian Ocean and South Pacific, they're known as "Tropical Cyclones".
In the South Atlantic, given there's never been one before, no terminology is used.
Which makes me wonder what would happen to a hurricane if it tried to cross the equator. -Tom
Same here! I've loved looking at the sky, regardless of the time of day or night. There's always something to look at!
It's physically impossible. The Coriolis force would tear it apart. That's also the same effect which causes the clockwise spin in the Southern Hemisphere vs the counterclockwise spin in the Northern Hemisphere.
Obviously a result of global-warming. Bush lied, high tide.
They are correct, I would be sceptical too: what does a 3rd world country like USA know about science and technology. Brazil, on the other hand...
It's a part of "we are not going to be subdued by the USA" mentality -- as if someone was really trying to suppress them. Much like the tit-for-tat fingerprinting.
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