Earlier this evening, around 8:00 PM, The National Hurricane Center issued a statement saying Hurricane Dean had top winds of 155 mph.
DANGEROUS CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE.
SOME STRENGTHENING IS EXPECTED LATER TONIGHT…AND DEAN IS LIKELY
TO BECOME A CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE PRIOR TO MAKING LANDFALL.
About a half hour later, based on recon data, Dean was upgraded to 160 mph.
WTNT64 KNHC 210034
HURRICANE DEAN TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL042007
835 PM AST MON AUG 20 2007
DATA FROM THE AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT CURRENTLY
INVESTIGATING HURRICANE DEAN INDICATE THAT MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS
HAVE INCREASED TO 160 MPH…MAKING DEAN A POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC
CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE SCALE.
There’s really no practical difference between 155 mph and 160 mph. Wind force increases logarithmically with the wind speed. But there’s a great perception difference, because at 160 mph, Hurricane Dean becomes a Category 5 storm.
Should Dean strike the Yucatan Peninsula as a Cat 5, it will be the first Atlantic Basin Category 5 landfall since Andrew, 15 years ago!
The only good news is, Dean will be sufficiently south of Cancun to produce less damage than a direct hit. It’s still going to crush the region mercilessly.