Record-breaking Hurricane Lorenzo

Record-breaking Hurricane Lorenzo

26 Sept 2019 15:30 UTC–27 Sept 15:30 UTC

Record-breaking Hurricane Lorenzo
Record-breaking Hurricane Lorenzo

Hurricane Lorenzo was the strongest hurricane on record to go so far north and east in the Atlantic Ocean, when it reached Category 5 status in September 2019.

Last Updated

11 November 2020

Published on

26 September 2019

By Sancha Lancaster (Pactum), Ivan Smiljanic (CGI), Ilaria Parodi (SCISYS), Jochen Kerkmann (EUMETSAT)

After forming as a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa on 19 September, Lorenzo tracked eastwards and appeared in the Atlantic Ocean, where it quickly formed into a Tropical Storm. By 25 September it had intensified into a Category 1 hurricane and continued to travel eastwards.

On 26 September it underwent a period of extremely rapid intensification, becoming a Category 4 hurricane. At this point, Lorenzo had become one of the largest and most powerful hurricanes on record for the central tropical Atlantic (Figure 1).

 Meteosat-11 Enhanced Natural Colour RGB, 26 September, 10:30 UTC
Figure 1: Meteosat-11 Enhanced Natural Colour RGB, 26 September, 10:30 UTC.

After a short period of weakening, the hurricane again underwent rapid intensification, becoming a Category 4 hurricane (Figures 2 and 3). On September 27, the French ship Bourbon Rhode, with 14 crew members on board, issued a distress signal after sailing through Lorenzo. Although, three crew members were rescued, four were declared dead and seven remain missing.

 
 Meteosat-11 Natural Colour RGB, 27 Sept 09:00 UTC
Figure 2: Meteosat-11 Natural Colour RGB, 27 Sept 09:00 UTC.
 

The animation in Figure 3 shows 24 hours in the life of Lorenzo, using the GOES-16 Geocolor product with a GLM overlay. Lightning can be clearly seen the spiral bands of Lorenzo, but not so much in the centre.

Figure 3: GOES-16 Geocolor product with a GLM overlay, 26 Sept 15:30 UTC–27 Sept 15:30 UTC. Credit: CIRA
 

By 29 September it was Category 5 storm and at this point it became the most intense hurricane to travel so far north and east in the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite weakening Lorenzo continued travelling north-eastwards to the Azores, becoming the worst storm for two decades to hit the region.

By 3 October, it had become an extratropical storm, with wind gusts of up to 106 km/h (66 mph) in western parts of Ireland, Northern Ireland Scotland, Wales and South-West England. The storm caused some coastal flooding and travel disruptions across those areas.

By the time it became extratropical Lorenzo had spent more days as a major hurricane east of 45 °W than any previous cyclone on record.


Related content

Hurricane Lorenzo in the Atlantic Ocean (CIMSS Blog)
Hurricane Lorenzo hit Category 5 farther east than any other storm (Science News)
Bourbon Rhode Sinks in Atlantic Ocean; Three Rescued – Update (gCaptain)
Lorenzo Approaches Ireland (NASA Earth Observatory)
Hurricane Lorenzo Brings Huge Waves to Portugal's Azores islands (VOA News/YouTube)
Hurricane Lorenzo: Storm 'possibly strongest in 20 years' rips through Azores (Euronews)