Lorenzo hurricane puzzles the scientists

Category 5 Hurricane Lorenzo is heading for Europe

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Hurricanes in the toughest category are more common at this time of the year, but are usually not where Lorenzo is at the moment. This tropical storm with gusts of up to 260 km per hour is on its way to the Azores, an island group to the west of Portugal.

It is not so much the power, but the location and path of Lorenzo that make him very special. This situation is so unique that even at MeteoGroup they do not know exactly what to do with the second category 5 hurricane of the 2019 hurricane season in the Atlantic.

“Lorenzo can indeed be called a pretty special case,” says Britta van Gendt of the MeteoGroup in Wageningen. “It all went very fast, at first it all seemed not too bad, but he gained strength very quickly in recent days and is now of the toughest category. This is the most powerful hurricane ever observed at this latitude and he is approaching Europe. But how and what is guessing. Making predictions for the longer term is difficult because this situation is so unique. ”

Unlike their American colleagues at the National Hurricane Center, European meteorologists do not have much experience with this type of immense weather system. “And the Americans don’t know exactly what it is going to do,” she notes.

Normally hurricanes occur above the warm ocean waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa. Warm air from the Sahara and a sea water temperature of at least 27 degrees are the ideal conditions for such storm complexes. Through the Passat winds, a dominant powerful eastern current that flows between the Equator and 30 degrees north latitude, the vast majority of hurricanes then move to the American continent and the Caribbean.

However, Lorenzo is located north of that 30th parallel. Due to the rotation of the earth and gravity, the Passat wind moves north in the opposite direction. Because of this, he starts behaving differently and Europe comes into view. A situation that does not occur very often and certainly not in this severity.
Strange duck called Lorenzo

“It is a difficult thing to predict because there is little data from the past to base weather models on. Of course we have experienced the remains of other hurricanes in Europe, but this situation is different. According to our models, Lorenzo travels northeast along the Azores. On Tuesday or Wednesday, the inhabitants of the Portuguese archipelago will have to look for coverage, how intense it will depend on the path. But it will certainly be quite windy and rainy, “says the meteorologist.

What happens next is uncertain according to Van Geldt. “Because of the trade winds, the path of Lorenzo will turn north-east towards the European mainland. Because he is so elusive, we do not know exactly what he will do next. Some models let him head towards France, while others say he is heading in the direction of Ireland or even Iceland. “

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