Record breaking Hurricane Sandra

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  • Image from our MeteoEarth website (www.meteoearth.com) of the track of Sandra.

    Satellite image of Hurricane Sandra from 25th November 2015, clearly showing the eye of the storm. Image courtesy of NASA.

    Graphic showing the expected 24 hour rainfall totals, from 0000UTC Sunday 29th November 2015 to 0000UTV Monday 30th November 2015.

  • Record breaking Hurricane Sandra
    28.11.2015 17:08

    This week, the Eastern Pacific saw what was a record breaking storm, as Hurricane Sandra headed towards the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico. Whilst Sandra didn’t make the news or break records in terms of rainfall amounts or wind speeds, what she is noteworthy for is the lateness in the season that she was around.

    The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs between 15th May and 30th November each year, and it's unusual that a storm developed so late on. The first advisory for the depression that later deepened into Sandra was issued on Monday 23rd November. On Tuesday 24th, the low became a named tropical storm, and Sandra reached hurricane status on Wednesday 25th. On Thursday 26th, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 125 knots (144 mph), and gusts of 150 knots (173 mph), Sandra reached category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. This made Sandra the latest in the season a category 4 hurricane has been recorded in either the Eastern Pacific or Atlantic hurricane basin.

    Hurricane Kenneth on 22nd November 2011 held the previous record. Sandra was also the strongest hurricane so late in the season. The 2015 Northern Hemisphere season recorded the most hurricanes/cyclones of category 3 or more, with Sandra becoming the 30th. The previous record was 23, recorded in both 1997 and 2004. There had been fears that Sandra would also break the record of becoming the latest landfalling Eastern Pacific hurricane on record, but the storm has dissipated over the last 48 hours, and is now a remnant low in the entrance to the Gulf of California. This means that Hurricane Tara remains the latest Eastern Pacific landfall (12th November 1961). By the time the remnants of Sandra make landfall tonight, the low itself is expected to have become much weaker. Maximum sustained winds of around 30mph, with gusts of around 40mph are expected. Heavy rain will affect Sinaloa state, especially around Culiacan on Sunday, but this will soon clear, leaving it dry on Monday (see graphic).

    Looking ahead for the last few days of the hurricane season in the Northern Hemisphere, there are no areas of convection that are showing signs of developing into tropical storms. Focus is now shifting to the Southern Hemisphere, with Tropical Cyclone Tuni already tracking south-eastwards to the west of Samoa.   

    By: Rachel Vince