nat 114

Alberto's longevity enters record books

By Chris Vaccaro,

A cluster of showers and thunderstorms, which moved off the coast of Africa, formed into Tropical Depression 3 on August. 3. Six hours later the depression grew into Tropical Storm Alberto - the first named storm of the 2000 Atlantic Season.

Alberto grew to an 80 mph hurricane the following day while moving harmlessly west across the open Atlantic. Winds with the hurricane continued to increase to 90 mph before Alberto weakened to tropical storm status on August 9.

However, this weakening trend was short lived and Alberto quickly regained hurricane strength later in the day. It would do this again in a about a week.

Alberto began to intensify as it climbed to it's and reached its peak intensity on August 12 with top steady winds of 125 mph. Alberto was now a major Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson damage potential scale. As a major Category 3 hurricane, this will be the strongest Alberto becomes.

Although some computer forecast models brought Alberto close to the Leeward Islands, the storm curved to the north, avoiding all land and staying well east of Bermuda.

As a trough moved off the U.S. East Coast, upper-level winds ahead of it helped steer Alberto eastward nearly over the North Atlantic. But strong winds aloft, which began to tear Alberto's thunderstorms apart, and cooler water brought the hurricane back to tropical storm status. Top winds were down to 45 mph.

As the trough lost its influence on Alberto, a high pressure ridge began steering the storm south toward warmer waters. Alberto, for the third time, reached hurricane strength on August 18. By now, Alberto had been a storm for 15 days, making it the longest-lived tropical cyclone in the Atlantic during the month of August, breaking the 14-day record Hurricane Felix set in 1995.

Alberto turned west briefly before returning to a northerly motion and forming a clockwise loop in its track over the open water of the north-central Atlantic, 500-1,000 miles west of the Azores.

Minimal re-strengthening was forecast, but just as it had with its unexpected looping motion, Alberto surprised forecasters as the storm's winds continued to increase over the warm Atlantic water and reaches and intensified to a 110 mph hurricane on August 19. Only over the warm Atlantic for a short time, this would be Alberto's last gasp.

Another storm system rolling off the northern USA approached Alberto on August 21 and steered the die-hard hurricane north over cooler water of the North Atlantic. The storm eventually caught up to Alberto, weakening the hurricane to a tropical storm. Alberto lost its tropical feature on Aug. 23 and became extratropical, ending its record reign.

For the books, Alberto maintained winds above tropical storm strength, greater than 39 mph, for a total of 20 days. Not only did Alberto become the longest-lived storm for August, but it also came in third for the longest-lived Atlantic storm in any month. First place still belongs to Ginger, which lived for 23 days in September of 1971.

                        SUMMARY TABLE

                                             MAXIMUM 1-MIN 

        NAME                DATES              WIND (MPH)

       ------            ------------         -------------

       ALBERTO           AUG. 4 - 23              125   



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