11:32 am - Monday May 28, 2012

Hurricane Wilma

hurricanes-wilmaHurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Wilma was the twenty-second storm (including the subtropical storm discovered in reanalysis), thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, and fourth Category 5 hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 season. A tropical depression formed in the Caribbean Sea near Jamaica on October 15, and intensified into a tropical storm two days later, which was named Wilma. After heading westward as a tropical depression, Wilma turned abruptly southward after becoming a tropical storm. Wilma continued intensifying, and eventually became a hurricane on October 18. Shortly thereafter, extreme intensification occurred, and in only 24 hours, Wilma became a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 185 mph (295 km/h).

Intensity slowly leveled off after becoming a Category 5 hurricane, and winds had decreased to 150 mph (240 km/h) before reaching the Yucatán Peninsula on October 20 and October 21. After crossing the Yucatán Peninsula, Wilma emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane. As Wilma began accelerating to the northeast, gradual re-intensification occurred, and the hurricane became a Category 3 hurricane on October 24. Shortly thereafter, Wilma made landfall in Cape Romano, Florida with winds of 120 mph (190 km/h). As Wilma was crossing Florida, it had briefly weakened back to a Category 2 hurricane, but again re-intensified as it reached the Atlantic Ocean. The hurricane intensified into a Category 3 hurricane for the final occasion, but Wilma dropped below that intensity while accelerating northeastward. By October 26, Wilma transitioned into an extratropical cyclone southeast of Nova Scotia.

Wilma made several landfalls, with the most destructive effects felt in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, Cuba, and the U.S. state of Florida. At least 62 deaths were reported, and damage is estimated at $29.1 billion (2005 USD, $32.7 billion 2012 USD), $20.6 billion (2005 USD, $23.2 billion 2012 USD) of which occurred in the United States alone. As a result, Wilma is ranked among the top five most costly hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic and the fourth most costly storm in United States history.

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