South Atlantic Hurricane

April 01, 2004

Husat1

Provided by: Hank Brandli, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster; Mark Conner

A hurricane in late March -- no fooling! The above satellite image of a rare hurricane in the South Atlantic Ocean was captured on March 27, using the infrared band of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). It's now early autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, near the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when hurricane formation would be expected to be peaking. However, there are no tracking charts available for South Atlantic hurricanes nor is there a naming convention. It's believed that this is the first time a hurricane has been observed by satellite in the South Atlantic Basin. An oddball indeed! Winds were estimated to be between 74 and 95 miles per hour (119 and 153 km/hour) -- a category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

This freak hurricane came ashore late on the 27th in the southern state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. At least two people were killed, more than 80 were injured and 2,100 residents lost their homes.

In the Southern Atlantic, warm water temperatures needed to sustain hurricanes (usually above 80 degrees F or about 27 degrees C) aren't as widespread as they are in the tropical North Atlantic. In addition, wind shear in the upper atmospheric, over this region, tends to be prevalent much of the year, discouraging tropical depressions from growing and gaining strength. Thus, hurricanes are extremely unusual in the South Atlantic Ocean.

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