Hurricanes of Extraordinary Size: 1956's Greta, 1962's Ella, and 2012's Sandy

Tuesday, 19 April 2016: 11:15 AM
Miramar 1 & 2 (The Condado Hilton Plaza)
Christopher W. Landsea, NOAA/NWS/NCEP/National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL; and S. Delgado

Sandy was an extremely large hurricane, its size as measured by tropical-force-winds growing considerably from the time it struck Cuba until its final landfall as an extratropical cyclone along the mid-Atlantic U.S. coast. Data from a variety of observational platforms indicated that the extent (radius) of tropical-storm-force winds grew from about 170 n mi near Cuba to about 430 n mi at U.S. landfall. Sandy was the largest tropical cyclone in the extended best track record, which began in 1988. However, other hurricanes during the reconnaissance era have apparently rivaled Hurricane Sandy in size. In the course of the Atlantic hurricane database reanalysis efforts, it was uncovered that 1956's Hurricane Greta and 1962's Hurricane Ella reached similar extraordinary sizes. Comparisons are made of the sizes of each of these systems both from a perspective of the extent of tropical storm force winds as well as the radius of the outermost closed isobar. Additionally, all three were late season hurricanes located in the western Atlantic and exhibited erratic, non-climatological tracks. These hurricanes all reached their largest dimensions as they were undergoing extratropical transition while interacting with strong upper-level short-wave troughs. Such commonality would suggest the expectation of additional extraordinarily sized hurricane in the future under similar scenarios.
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