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Boston Weather: 36.0°F | Fair

Hurricane Wilma Shatters Records

By Jon Moskaitis
STAFF METEOROLOGIST

As Katrina churned through the Gulf of Mexico in late August, it strengthened into the fourth most intense hurricane (as measured by its lowest surface pressure, 902 mb) ever observed in the Atlantic basin. Now, not even two months later, Katrina ranks as the third most intense hurricane to form this year (making her sixth on the all-time list). She falls behind Rita, which bottomed out at 897 mb in late September, and Wilma, which attained a surface pressure of 882 mb early Wednesday morning. Wilma’s surface pressure is the lowest ever recorded in an Atlantic basin storm. Perhaps more impressive than this peak intensity is the astonishingly short time interval Wilma needed to reach it. In 24 hours, she dropped 100 mb in surface pressure and gained 105 mph in maximum surface wind speed, going from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in one day!

After weakening a bit yesterday, Wilma has now reorganized herself, and is expected to brush by Cozumel on the Mexican coast today as a Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane. Over the weekend, Wilma is forecasted to accelerate on a northeastward heading, crossing the Florida peninsula late Sunday. After that, Wilma will likely dissipate over the Atlantic. However, there is a slight chance that she could track just off the New England coast on Monday or Tuesday, as a weak hurricane. Keep in touch with forecast updates over the weekend to see if this becomes a more probable scenario.

Extended Forecast

Today: Mostly sunny. High: 57 F (14 C)

Tonight: Clear and cool. Low: 39 F (4 C)

Saturday: Sunny early, then increasing clouds and a chance of rain. High: 52 F (11 C)

Saturday night: Rain, windy. Low: 45 F (7 C)

Sunday: Windy, with rain likely. High: 55 F (13 C)

Monday: Mostly cloudy, showers possible. High: 57 F (14 C)