Looking back at Hurricane Gustav's record 211 mph wind gust

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 04:28 AM GMT die 30o December, anno 2008

Share this Blog
3
+

As we look back at the weather events of 2008, perhaps the most impressive record set during the year occurred during Hurricane Gustav, which pounded Cuba as a Category 4 hurricane in August. Gustav set a new world record for highest wind gust ever measured in a hurricane. As Gustav passed over the Paso Real de San Diego meteorological station in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on the afternoon of August 30, 2008, a wind gust of 211 mph (94.4 m/s) was recorded (it was originally pegged at 212 mph, but has been "downgraded" to 211 mph after an official review by the World Meteorological Organization). The powerful winds blew down the anemometer, and it is possible that higher gusts occurred after the instrument failed. Not only is this the highest wind speed ever measured in a hurricane, it is the second highest wind gust ever measured at a non-mountain location on Earth, and is the third highest wind gust ever measured on the surface of the planet. The highest wind gust in recorded history is the amazing 253 mph reading recorded on Barrow Island, Australia, during Tropical Cyclone Olivia in 1996. The second highest wind speed ever measured was 231 mph (370 km/hr) on the top of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, on April 12, 1934, during passage of an extratropical storm. The fourth highest wind gust on record was the 207 mph gust measured in Greenland at Thule Air Force Base on March 6, 1972. The previous highest wind gust measured in a hurricane was 186 mph at Blue Hill Observatory, Massachusetts, during the notorious 1938 "Long Island Express" hurricane.


Figure 1. Anemometer used to measure the record 211 mph gust in Hurricane Gustav. Gustav's powerful winds flattened the instrument against the roof of the observing station. Image credit: Jose M. Rubiera Torres, Instituto de Meteorologia of Cuba.

Is this a believable record?
The instrument used for the measurement in Gustav was a Dines pressure tube anemometer mounted on the roof of the weather office. According to Jose M. Rubiera Torres of Cuba's Instituto de Meteorologia, "The graph is neat and the instrument was in perfect technical working condition. The wind peaked up to 340 km/h and then the anemometer mast fell over the concrete roof of the station's building, sharply interrupting the measurement. The graph [Figure 2], shows that wind gusts were increasing at a regular pace with time, until the instrument broke down when it got to the 340 km/h mark." Dines anemometers have a proven track record of reliability, and have been used in Cuba for over 60 years. A formal committee under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) certified the record in 2009.


Figure 2. Trace of the Dines anemometer used to measure the record 211 mph gust in Hurricane Gustav. Image credit: Jose M. Rubiera Torres, Instituto de Meteorologia of Cuba.

How did such a strong gust occur?
At the time Hurricane Gustav moved over the Paso Real de San Diego meteorological station, the storm was rated a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph, gusting to 185 mph. When the peak wind gust of 211 mph was measured at 22:35 GMT, the western eyewall of Gustav was over the anemometer site, as seen on Cuban radar (Figure 3). The town of Paso Real de San Diego is at an elevation of about 40 meters, and lies 25 km inland, about 12 km south of a rugged line of mountains up to 700 meters high. The counter-clockwise flow of air around Gustav's eyewall meant that the winds arriving at Paso Real de San Diego were forced to pass over these mountains first. The mountains probably focused and accelerated the winds through gaps between the peaks, and the air accelerated further as it rushed downhill under the force of gravity. Strong downbursts due to collapsing precipitation cores inside Gustav's eyewall probably contributed to the extreme gusts. When hurricanes make landfall, the intense thunderstorm cells that comprise the eyewall sometimes collapse suddenly, sending a downward cascade of intense winds to the surface. When this rush of wind hits the ground, it spreads out in all directions, forming a strong surface wind event known as a downburst. It has been theorized that some of the extreme damage noted in Florida during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 may have been associated with downbursts from collapsing eyewall thunderstorm cells. This behavior may also be responsible for some of the extreme damage in Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina. Animations of infrared satellite imagery available from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS Satellite Blog show that the eyewall of Gustav collapsed during passage over the high mountains to the north of Paso Real de San Diego, but this occurred after the world record wind gust was measured.


Figure 3. Radar image of Hurricane Gustav (top) at 22:25 GMT on August 30 2008, five minutes before the world record 211 mph hurricane wind gust was measured. The site of the Paso Real de San Diego meteorological station where the record was set is marked with a red dot. A topographic map (bottom) shows the line of mountains up to 1200 meters high that lies just north of the town. The counter-clockwise flow of air around the eye of Gustav brought the strongest winds of Gustav across the mountain range then downhill to Paso Real de San Diego. Radar image credit: Instituto de Meteorologia of Cuba. Topographic map image credit: Wikipedia.

Note: this post was updated in 2010 to reflect the official WMO review of Gustav's wind gust, plus the addition of the new World Record wind gust set in TC Olivia in 1996.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 334 - 284

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

332. Good one.
heheheheheh
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24801
Greetings, Nadia.
Well, I slept under an extra blanket last night. So yeah, I am all for that.
The Planet cooled very substantially here, at my house, at about 2:27 am this morning. It has warmed up quite a bit since then. But it certainly felt like a trend for a while there. LOL
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24801
Quoting pottery:
I read an interesting sentence, written by Doris Lessing, this week.
She says that Persuasive conditioning is very powerful. If you suggest to people that all cats are black, in a persuasive manner, they will see black cats. Even if a white cat, carrying a sign that says "black cat" passes by, these people will see a black cat.

It reminded me of the current GW debate.


I know all about that...my wife sez supper was good...supper was good!!!!LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I read an interesting sentence, written by Doris Lessing, this week.
She says that Persuasive conditioning is very powerful. If you suggest to people that all cats are black, in a persuasive manner, they will see black cats. Even if a white cat, carrying a sign that says "black cat" passes by, these people will see a black cat.

It reminded me of the current GW debate.

Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24801
Morning Pottery

Do you think the blog is ready for an article on global COOLING ????
Maybe it is too early with the time zone thing and all
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Morning all.
It is a Beautiful morning.
I should have stayed in the forest??
Good news on the Dengue fever mosquito.

Whats the plan today ??
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24801
Indianrvr - we're getting those fingers of morning sunrise color here now too!

Mavericks - Knarely !! Certainly stuff for the big boys.... Vort, you may want to sent that over to Baja... I believe she hails from that part of CA and would be interested.

Dog walking BBL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
326. IKE
Quoting surfmom:
mORNING!!!.....Ike how much coffee did you drink, you are already Funny


Cup #4.....er, so far!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Morning Gang! We have a pretty sunrise about to happen here in Jensen Beach, I hope everyones day starts as pretty!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi Cot --interesting article on Dengue
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
mORNING!!!.....Ike how much coffee did you drink, you are already Funny
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
322. IKE
I wonder if STL would add a family member to his ignore list if they posted on here and discounted the GW theory?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
321. IKE
Fairbanks,Alaska in the ice-box....

Fairbanks, Alaska (Airport)
Updated: 10 min 57 sec ago
Light Snow
-27 °F

Light Snow Mist
Windchill: -27 °F
Humidity: 62%
Dew Point: -36 °F
Wind: Calm
Pressure: 30.13 in (Falling)
Visibility: 3.0 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Clouds:
Scattered Clouds 1800 ft
Mostly Cloudy 3500 ft
Mostly Cloudy 5500 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 433 ft


Their forecast for Friday night.....Friday Night
Partly cloudy. Patchy ice fog. Lows 40 below to 50 below...except around 25 below in the hills. Light winds.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
320. IKE
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Press told me that the last time he posted something like that it was just a joke; well, I am now adding him to my ignore/ban/blocked lists permanently; should have known better than to listen to his explanation.


Congrats Press....you've now joined me on STL's silly ignore list.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
One of the tropics most painful and deadly diseases may be on its way to being combated...

Link

(I know Pottery had it, so I thought I'd post this. :))
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
this is just a video of my Hurricane Katrina analisis I was bored. lol

Enjoy!

Member Since: September 7, 2008 Posts: 17 Comments: 1604

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sullivanweather:
The lines you see on that chart is the height of the 200mb level in the atmosphere expressed in decameters.

Basically, what you're seeing there is a rather intense polar vortex centered just north of Hudson Bay.

Of course, since this is a 288 hour forecast it's very likely that this won't happen, but it is interesting to note how low those heights are.


If that persists, we could have a record size and duration of a NH ozone hole come February.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Yeah, but the stuff I post is scientific fact


Numbers compared against a sub-multidecadal time period (most any of your anomaly plots) are not scientific facts...they are statistical facts.

Statistical facts can show you anything you want them to.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting MichaelSTL:
Also, I still occasionally see comments about there being no scientific consensus; this would argue otherwise (note this ONLY includes scientific organizations - nonscientific doesn't count, though in some of the organizations listed below you still have some people like this):

Statements by concurring organizations

* 1.1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
* 1.2 InterAcademy Council
* 1.3 Joint science academies' statement 2008
* 1.4 Joint science academies’ statement 2007
* 1.5 Joint science academies’ statement 2005
* 1.6 Joint science academies’ statement 2001

...
...
* 1.34 American Society for Microbiology
* 1.35 Institute of Biology (UK)
* 1.36 World Federation of Public Health Associations
* 1.37 American Public Health Association
* 1.38 American Medical Association
* 1.39 American College of Preventive Medicine
* 1.40 American Statistical Association
* 1.41 Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)
* 1.42 Water Environment Federation
* 1.43 Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
* 1.44 Federal Climate Change Science Program (US)



Statements by dissenting organizations

With the July 2007 release of the revised statement by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, no remaining scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate.


What a load of crap.

Signed,
An actual card-carrying meteorologist with a MS ('S' stands for science)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Evening everybody. Happy New Year to those I missed last night :o)
Quoting Drakoen:
Latest update from the CFS forecasting Nino3.4 SST anomalies showing condition showing La Nina developing for the first half of the year then trending towards neutral conditions.
This sounds like another season similar to 08 in some ways, especially in terms of numbers. It'll be interesting to see if the forecast starts to trend towards El Nino by the end of the year, or if it'll remain neutral throughout the season. (I'm sure this La Nina is also contributing to our wetter than average winter here in the Bahamas.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
310. sullivanweather

Thanks!

Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Quoting KEHCharleston:
RE:308. sullivanweather

Theoretically - if this should happen

Does this mean that polar vortex would be so tightly wound, that it will be unable to spread south??
The cold will be more intense within the cyclone, but it would be somewhat contained??

Or am I not getting what you are saying at all (As I have said before - I do not hold the opinion that there are no stupid questions - so I do appreciate your tolerance)




You're getting it =)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
RE:308. sullivanweather

Theoretically - if this should happen

Does this mean that polar vortex would be so tightly wound, that it will be unable to spread south??
The cold will be more intense within the cyclone, but it would be somewhat contained??

Or am I not getting what you are saying at all (As I have said before - I do not hold the opinion that there are no stupid questions - so I do appreciate your tolerance)

Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Cyclones, whether it be a hurricane or in this case, a strong polar vortex, get strong because there's little obstruction to prevent it from doing so (notice how symmetric the vortex is). Typically, cyclones will strengthen until they are in equilibrium with their surroundings, which is why near circular systems are able to garner such strength, there's little, if any, shortwaves within the planetary wave in this macroscale example.


This is also bad news for those looking for cold and snow in the US beyond this period for a little bit. With the polar vortex so far north and so strong there'll be little shortwave troughiness to drag down that cold air. Also, such a strong vortex will also have a strong jet stream surrounding it, keeping that cold air locked up in Canada and allowing for maritime air form the Pacific to flood over the nation. Though, it does get rather cold in the East before this monster forms.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dont really pay any mind to 200+hr plus forcast but indeed crazy to see.

Those iso's are ridiculous STL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The lines you see on that chart is the height of the 200mb level in the atmosphere expressed in decameters.

Basically, what you're seeing there is a rather intense polar vortex centered just north of Hudson Bay.

Of course, since this is a 288 hour forecast it's very likely that this won't happen, but it is interesting to note how low those heights are.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
RE:303. sullivanweather
Could you please expound on this - layman's terms if you please.
Thanking you in advance
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
In all my years of following numerical computer models I've never seen a 1044dm height contour on a 200mb chart over North America. Amazing!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
Today's 50th anniversay of Castro's overthrow was said to have been quite subdued....due in large part to the hurricane damage Cuba sustained this year....

Hmmm, so I will be doing my 30th at their 50th and I turn 50 in a few months.. seems fitting.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting presslord:
cute....the Cialis comment, that is.....


You know me.. sweet and innocent :)
ergo the Halo :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Today's 50th anniversay of Castro's overthrow was said to have been quite subdued....due in large part to the hurricane damage Cuba sustained this year....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
While I sincerely appreciate the advice....I'll stop posting things when Jeff Masters tells me to...but ....thanks for sharing....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
"Happy New Year.. glad to see you couldn't drop it after everyone else already has. I am truly sorry I will not be able to see anymore of your intellectual conversations this year."

No, so it ain't so, you're gonna put me on ignore orca? Geez...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
296. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Perth Tropical Cyclone Warning Center
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
Region south of 10S and between 90E-110E
12:00 pm WDT January 2 2009
=============================================

A Tropical Low [Ex-Tropical Cyclone Billy] was located at 11am WDT near 14.0S 98.0E moving west, but is expected to remain below tropical cyclone intensity.

Tropical Cyclone Formation Potential
===================================
Saturday: Low
Sunday: Low
Monday: Low
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Me (Post207):
Governmental responses to global warming are appropriate. - I am not sure know how much (if any) that the Global Warming is due to human activity - nor how long it will last.

Quoting WhatMeWorry:
Not sure why you're seemingly directing this comment towards me since I haven't really posted anything about government responses to global warming.
Sorry, I misunderstood your point of view. I was commenting on the relevancy of governments to have agencies/departments that are concerned with environmental issues.

Quoting WhatMeWorry:
I'm also not sure why you'd be wanting to give carte blanche to governments around the world.
Whoa, whoa, whoa there, WhatMeWorry. I said that it was appropriate for governments to respond to the threat of Global Warming - how do you take that statement all the way to "carte blanche" to governments around the world??

Quoting WhatMeWorry:
Before I'd say a response was appropriate, I'd want to know what that response was. Speaking as a US citizen, I think our responsibility is to be informed and then scream bloody murder if we disagree with what our government is doing. Sheep shouldn't have citizenship.
What can I say to that?? Baaa.Baaa (bleat, bleat)

Quoting WhatMeWorry:
As to not being sure about the human contribution to global warming; I'd say do some research. You might want to start with the National Academy of Sciences website. They have some good information there on the topic that is accessible to the layman.
I did as you suggested and checked the National Academy of Sciences Website - Did a search on the site for "Global Warming" - Right off the bat - first article I read after doing a search of the site - and I quote (emphasis mine)

"Kavli Frontiers of Science
Symposium Series
Ninth Annual Japanese-American
Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
U.S. National Academy of Sciences
December 8-10, 2006
Irvine, California
Ocean currents transport large amounts of heat, carbon, nutrients and other
substances around the globe. This transport affects climate as well as the
functioning of the marine ecosystem and biogeochemical processes. Here I
try to give an overview of our knowledge on past and possible future
changes of the ocean circulation and its ramifications. Surface currents are
mainly driven by winds whereas the deep circulation is caused by subtle
differences in the density of sea water. This density driven overturning
circulation spans the world oceans in a conveyor belt like fashion with
sinking at high latitude areas in the North Atlantic and near Antarctica. It
responds sensitive to perturbations of surface salinities for example through
changes in precipitation or melting of glaciers. Theory and models suggest
that the overturning circulation exhibits hysteresis behavior with two steady
states and rapid transitions between them. Such transitions can lead to
abrupt warming or cooling events at high latitude regions such as the North
Atlantic. Evidence from paleoclimate proxy records and modeling indicates
that such changes actually happened during the last ice age with strong
impacts on the oceans ecosystem and cycling of nutrients and other
biogeochemical substances such as oxygen. According to simulations with
climate models similar changes might occur in the future due to man made
global warming and glacier melt. However, the climate model projections
show a large spread and uncertainty in the future evolution of the
overturning circulation. Much more work will be needed to improve these
forecasts
as well as to assess impacts on higher trophic levels in the food
chain such as fish."

Quoting WhatMeWorry:Whatever you do, pay no attention to the uninformed opinions of people like Sammy Wilson - the onus is on you, as a citizen, to do your own research.

I tend to listen to all points of view. However, when someone negates all other points of view, or becomes insulting, I have a tendency to question the validity of that view point.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
cute....the Cialis comment, that is.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting WhatMeWorry:
"...and the stuff i post is mostly for entertainment value...."

Presslord, here's a suggestion for you. If you've got something to say, say it for all to hear and take responsibility for it. That's what the adults do where I come from. This passive aggressive nonsense of "it wasn't me that said it, I was just posting an article" gets old pretty quick. Care to grow a pair or you happy to keep wearing that dress?


Happy New Year.. glad to see you couldn't drop it after everyone else already has. I am truly sorry I will not be able to see anymore of your intellectual conversations this year.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
"...and the stuff i post is mostly for entertainment value...."

Presslord, here's a suggestion for you. If you've got something to say, say it for all to hear and take responsibility for it. That's what the adults do where I come from. This passive aggressive nonsense of "it wasn't me that said it, I was just posting an article" gets old pretty quick. Care to grow a pair or you happy to keep wearing that dress?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
291. Skyepony (Mod)
SW Pac is overly warm because of the doldrums
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 5394755:
Are there personalities from the Storm Chaser documentary show on Discovery channel amoung Weather Underground blogers?


That i know of (none) on WU but you can always catch Reed and his friends HERE or watch there videos on youtube.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
zoo....that rings a bell with me...


No, the ringing noise is from the Cialis.. its one of the side effects.. that and your memory lose :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
zoo....that rings a bell with me...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Are there personalities from the Storm Chaser documentary show on Discovery channel amoung Weather Underground blogers?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I thought it was somewhere in Norway or that area.

Have been looking through lots of info - still don't see it. That will teach me - write stuff down when you see it.

Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4158

Viewing: 334 - 284

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
20 °F
Aequaliter Nubila