10th Anniversary of Cyclone Catarina

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Catarina near its peak intensity. (NASA – MODIS)

    On March 28, 2004, a rare South Atlantic tropical cyclone smashed into the Brazilian coast.  Tropical cyclone development in this region is scarce due to the lack of favorable conditions, such as low shear or easterly waves coming off of Africa.  In this case, Catarina formed from a stationary cold-core low along a trough that remained stalled over warm waters until convection was able to establish a warm core.  The cyclone then drifted westward and struck Santa Catarina province with 110 mph (180 km/hr) gusts.  It cause US$350 million damage and killed three people.

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Cyclone Catarina’s track (Wikipedia)

     Due to scarcity of tropical cyclones in this basin, there are no official name lists for them.  The unofficial name ‘Catarina’ was adopted from the province where the storm came ashore.  The only other previous recorded instance of a South Atlantic tropical cyclone was a tropical depression forming off the Congo in Africa in 1991.  Since Catarina, Anita formed in 2010 and Subtropical Storm Arani developed in 2011.