Hurricanes occur in many places around the world. They usually go under the names of typhoons or cyclone, but they are all the same. Powerful tropical systems, hurricanes can be found in the North Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, South Pacific, Western Pacific, Bay of Bengal, and Indian Ocean.
Until recently, no such storms have been recorded in the South Atlantic because satellite technology has only been around since 1966, and hasn't detected it, and most importantly, sea surface temperatures are too cold to support development. However, on March 25th, 2004, a rare event occurred off the shores of Catarina province in Southeastern Brazil, and that was the development of a rather strong hurricane with 75 knot, or 85 mph winds, which is Category One of the Saffir-Simpson Scale in the Atlantic.
Brazil, which is a country that has prided itself on having nice weather, and no hurricanes for the most part, had a tough time accepting the fact that such a storm could exist in their part of the world. There was quite a bit of controversy between physicists and meteorologists in the country on whether or not the storm was a hurricane. Forecasters in the United States, including those at the National Hurricane Center strongly believe that indeed it was a hurricane.
On March 25, 2004, the first ever recorded hurricane made landfall in the South Atlantic along the Southeastern Coast of Brazil. While there may have been other such rare storms in the past, satellite imagery of the South Atlantic began in 1966, and this was the first time a hurricane has ever been detected on such satellite imagery.
Anyway, there is great animated imagery of this storm, which struck the state of Catarina in the Southeastern portion of Brazil some 520 miles to the southwest of Rio De Janeiro. The hurricane, which was given the name Catarina for the location it hit in Brazil, had winds of 85 mph, or 75 knots according to meteorologists down there, and left some 38 people dead, and another two thousand people homeless.
In addition, another 9,600 people were force to flee from the fury of the storm, and damaged nearly 1,400 public buildings and private businesses. Several days after the storm hit, there was still some 14 cities and towns in the Santa Catarina province, and 11 of those provinces remained without electricity. Approximately 30,000 homes were damaged, and nearly 300 were completely destroyed.
In a nearby state or province in the same region, Rio Grande do Sul, the impact from the storm was far less severe, but still caused problems. About one thousand homes were damaged while about two hundred people were forced to leave their homes. However, despite all the damage, there were a number of meteorologists in Brazil that refused to acknowledge that this was actually a hurricane. You can see all the details and facts on this rare storm in the South Atlantic at USAToday.com.
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Despite the obvious look of a hurricane that this storm had on the satellite during the weekend of March 25th, forecasters in Brazil, a country that has prided itself as being hurricane free, refused to accept the notion that this was a tropical system. The country's National Space Research Institute declared that the system that hit the state of Santa Catarina was not a hurricane, and that was because it didn't demonstrate the behavior of one.
While a meteorologist did indicate that the storm was definitely something different, but was hesitant to declare it a hurricane. The controversy even reached this neck of the woods when a Brazilian physicist contacted us through the web site to see if we could provide some insight on the situation. The physicist was quite adamant that the storm was indeed a hurricane, and we did concur with his thoughts based on the satellite imagery that we had seen on CNN on the Saturday morning of that weekend.
It was still the topic of conversation about a month later when Dr. Steve Lyons of the Weather Channel paid a visit to Rutgers University's Cook College campus on April 23rd. During the question and answer session that followed his presentation, Dr. Lyons was asked for his thoughts on the storm, and whether it was a hurricane or not. He believed that it was the result of an upper trough, or TUTT phenomena, that tends to influence weather in that part of the world, and even though it was rare, it was a hurricane.
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In addition to the analysis by Dr. Steve Lyons, meteorologists on CNN did indicate that the storm appeared to be a hurricane, and most importantly, Jack Beven, a long time specialist at the National Hurricane Center, who also did plenty of hurricane research at Florida State University, was convinced that it was indeed a hurricane, and that all the information that was out there demonstrated that.
However, Beven did feel that the Brazilian meteorologists should meet with their American counterparts to analyze the information more closely. It is understandable that the folks down in Brazil didn't believe that it was a hurricane. They had never really experience, or seen such a storm in their part of the world. People in the United States, who deal with these much more often, have a better feel for what is, and what is not a hurricane.
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