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A Hurricane Season With Supersized and Shrunken Storms

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As forecasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as well as private sector forecasting companies, the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has been an unusually active one, and it is not quite over yet — the season officially ends on November 30. There have been many milestones this year, from one of the strongest hurricanes observed so far north in the Atlantic (Hurricane Earl), to the unprecedented occurrence of five major hurricanes (Category Three or above on the Saffir-Simpson scale) in a three week timespan.

The season also featured the formation of one of the largest hurricanes observed, in terms of the diameter of its wind field, as well as an unusually compact storm.

Hurricane Igor, which struck Bermuda before going on to cause significant damage to Newfoundland, Canada, was enormous. At one point, tropical storm force winds (sustained winds between 39 to 74 miles per hour) extended 345 miles from the storm's center. Comparatively, Hurricane Paula, which hit Cuba in mid-October, was tiny, with tropical storm force winds extending just 60 miles from the center, and hurricane force winds (sustained winds greater than 75 mph) reaching just 15 miles from the center. Both storms packed a punch, however, with Paula reaching Category Two status, and Igor a Category Four. A larger wind field can create a greater storm surge, as was the case with Hurricane Ike, which struck Texas in 2008.

Source: National Hurricane Center