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Cyclone Catarina from space

Cyclone Catarina from space (Space)

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Cyclone Catarina is one of several informal names for a South Atlantic tropical cyclone that hit southeastern Brazil in late Mar. 2004 (15 years ago). The storm developed out of a stationary cold-core upper-level trough on Mar. 12. Almost a week later, on Mar. 19, a disturbance developed along the trough and traveled towards the east-southeast until Mar. 22 when a ridge caused the forward motion of the disturbance to cease. The disturbance was in an unusually favorable environment with below average wind shear and above average sea surface temperatures. The combination of the two led to a slow transition from an Extratropical cyclone to a Subtropical cyclone by Mar. 24. The storm continued to obtain tropical characteristics and became a tropical storm the next day while the winds steadily increased. The storm reached winds of 75 mph (120 km/h)—equivalent to a low-end category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale—on Mar. 26. At this time it was unofficially named Catarina and was also the first hurricane-intensity tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Unusually favorable conditions persisted and Catarina continued to intensify and was estimated to have peaked with winds of 100 mph (155 km/h) on Mar. 28. The storm made landfall later during the day at that intensity near the town of Torres. Catarina rapidly weakened upon landfall and dissipated the next day.

Since Catarina formed in an area which has never, according to reliable records, experienced a tropical cyclone before, the damage was quite severe. Despite being an unprecedented event, Brazilian officials took the appropriate actions and warned the public about the approaching storm. Residents heeded the warnings and prepared for the storm by either evacuating or by riding it out in their homes. Catarina ended up destroying 1,500 homes and damaging around 40,000 others. Severe damage was also dealt to the agricultural products, as 85% of the banana crops and 40% of the rice crops were lost in the storm. Despite the lack of adequate warning for the storm, only three people were confirmed to have perished in the storms and 75 others were injured. Damages from the storm amounted to $350 million (2004 USD $399 million 2008 (11 years ago) USD).


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