EquusStorm wrote:Oh lordy, Camille landfall intensity debates. Now that's a can of worms.
Not a certified hurricane expert here by any means, but as someone very familiar and experienced with trees and their structure, you do not have whole undamaged stands of Pinus elliotti and Pinus palustris after 220mph wind gusts. You just don't. It is pretty much physically impossible. EF3-strength three second gusts in the 140 to 150 range easily snaps 95% of even thicker Pinus taeda stems, though of course rapid acceleration in tornadic winds is much more likely to snap trees than gradual hurricane acceleration. Category three Ivan caused devastating loss to longleaf and slash pine stands well inland, but the photos I see from Camille directly from the coast where winds were supposedly vastly stronger than Ivan's show mostly standing pines. Andrew's tree and structural damage is trademark CLASSIC category five wind damage, as is Irma's in the Caribbean although tree species distribution there is vastly different. Those two storms were very similar in suggesting extreme winds; however all of the Camille damage I've seen in photos suggests much lower winds (admittedly more significant than Katrina's though) but extreme surge damage.
Camille was a violent monster over the Gulf and its landfall pressure was frightfully low, and I'd say probably only Rita and Katrina come close as being the most impressive northern Gulf hurricane on record, but photos don't lie; unless someone has proof of obliterated pine stands and non-surge related structural damage suggesting winds over 170-180mph, I can't be convinced Camille was as strong as has been long suggested at landfall. Rednecks claiming it has to be because they heard the wind go woosh and their grandpa insisted winds were 220mph without any proof is, scientifically, garbage, more fit to a book on experiences than actual record, and if the article is anything to go by, I'd only trust legit officially recorded winds to estimate landfall intensity. I don't for a minute believe that higher winds weren't recorded because the instruments failed (unless legitimately verified that this happened) if whole stands of pines survived the lashing nearby. If we take unproven anecdotes as intensity facts, then we have to lower the pressure of the 1935 Labor Day cane (which, those who claim the Camille intensity debate is an effort to downplay past storms should realize has been dramatically intensified in recent analysis and was clearly much stronger than Andrew OR Irma) to 880mb, as a barometer thrown into the sea and never recovered supposedly measured this.
Of course maybe tree damage was much more severe right at the core eastern eyewall and I could be wrong... but I kinda doubt it. Very intense hurricane at landfall, perhaps by far strongest in MS history? Absolutely. Possible marginal low end Cat 5? Possible, but available photos make that debatable. High-end 180-190 sustained? Not even a chance given measured and photographed intensity and damage.
I'm not going to debate with anyone, but I have to respectfully disgree with your point. I don't think it's pratical to assume the intensity of hurricanes based upon damage photos rather than measured data, especially for the storms in early or non-satellite era when most avaliable photos were of poor quality. Recon, radar, and ground measurement during the time of Camille apporaching the coast have provided a detailed observation for the evlution of the storm. Unlike Katrina, Camille had successfully complete a EWRC before landfall and was in the process of rapidly restrengthing. Katrina's landfall pressure was in the 920s but winds were at CAT3 due to an incompelete EWRC, but that's not the case in Camille. The landfalling pressure of 900mb in a strengthening hurricane would almost certainly corrspondes to CAT5 windspeed. I belive the intensity and structual evlution of Camille before landfall is very similar to Andrew, which had completed an EWRC only hours prior to landfall. According to the reanalyzed best track, Andrew made landfall on Berry Island, Bahamas at 24/01z as a 931mb/130kt hurricane. A combination of EWRC and land interaction caused Andrew weakened to 935-940mb, followed by a 15mb pressure drop while traversing over Gulf stream. The windspeed increased from 130kt to 145kt in three hours during that pressure drop, and Andrew made landfall on SFL at 24/09z with an intensity of 922mb/145kt. Renalysis data suggest Camille went through a similar pressure drop - 20mb decrease in 10 hours before landfall. I'd think that the increase in windspeed should be also 15kt or higher during the period. The intensity of Camille during EWRC was set to 920mb/135kt, a 20mb pressure drop since that time should raise the windspeed to at least 150kt for landfall, which is the analyzed landfall intensity by NHC.
Remember, the intensity of tropical cyclone is based on sustained wind alone, but wind gusts is an important factor to the degree of damage on buildings and trees. A CAT4 or CAT3 could have mesovorticies that produce wind gusts well into CAT5 range. Topography enhancement can also produce stronger winds unrepresentative to the actual intensity of the storm. It's much harder to find extreme wind damage on a flat terrain like the Gulf coast than you would see if a hurricane hits a mountainous island.
Excerpt from Camille reanalysis:
This central pressure of 900 mb—a roughly 20-mb decrease in the 10 h since the last aircraft data—shows Camille was strengthening at landfall, possibly because of the end of the ERC. Brown et al. (2006) suggest maximum sustained winds at landfall of 148 kt using the standard relationship or 155 kt using the intensifying subset north of 25°N. Given the competing factors of a tiny RMW of approximately 6–8 n mi and a moderate forward speed of 15 kt, but a very low pressure of the outer closed isobar of 1004 mb, an intensity of 150 kt is reanalyzed for the time of landfall (a graph of the previous and reanalyzed best-track intensities is provided in Fig. 7). The 150 kt at landfall show Camille as a category 5 hurricane at landfall in Mississippi. This intensity assessment confirms the original indication of Camille as a category 5 striking the United States (Hebert and Taylor 1978).
http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/ki ... s-2016.pdf