Hurricanes and their respective wind fields..

Feb 19, 2004
Erie IL respect to intensification or weakening seem to have a HUGE impact on surface winds. A perfect example of this is Katrina which made landfall as a weak CAT 1 hurricane the other day. It seemed to catch many, including some forecasters, off guard as to how ferocious the winds were. Even Jim Cantore on TWC mentioned that intensifying tropical systems seem to be stronger than what they are initially expected to be.

On the flip side, major hurricanes making landfall in a weakening cycle, or weakening for whatever reason, seem to have the opposite effect. From what I understand, strong sustained winds lift above the surface in weakening storms, with the strongest winds being "mixed" down in the strongest squalls within the eyewall.

Does anyone else feel that this aspect of intensification or weakening is overlooked somewhat in hurricane forecasts, or even the advisories themselves?

Hurricane Andrew is another example of a hurricane that was rappidly intensifying as it made landfall. It was "only" rated at 145mph sustained, but research has estimated some gusts may have approached 200mph in the eyewall. If Andrew had intensified to a CAT 5 before landfall, with winds of say 165mph sustained, and then started a significant weakening phase with winds dropping off to 145mph sustained at landfall (the same strength as it really made landfall at) would the extreme damage still have occurred? Would the extreme wind gusts still have occurred? Or would have the strongest winds remained just above ground level?

Obviously the strongest winds in all tropical systems are above ground level, but why are the winds so much stronger in rappidly strengthening storms near ground level?