Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Strong hurricanes weaken before hitting Gulf Coast

RedOrbit: According to new research, cool waters just below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico cause the strongest hurricanes to lose intensity before they hit that part of the U.S. coast, reports USA Today. The new research could help scientists better predict the storms during this year's hurricane season.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Weather and Forecasting, most of the strongest hurricanes have decreased in intensity just before hitting the Gulf Coast, where two-thirds of all hurricanes hit in the U.S.

As disastrous as it was, "even Hurricane Katrina wasn't as bad as it could have been," study co-author Mark DeMaria of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement. He said that of the 12 most powerful hurricanes in the Gulf between 1979 and 2008, 10 weakened during the 12 hours before making landfall.

"It's something special about the Gulf of Mexico," DeMaria said in a statement. "In the center of the Gulf, deep, warm water comes out of the tropics, but closer to the northern Gulf Coast, warm water does not extend as deep below the surface."…

Hurricane Rita in the Gulf of Mexico, September 21, 2005 -- from NOAA

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