CrazyC83 wrote:I agree...I think it stays cat 4. In fact, I could see it nudged down slightly (my best estimate is 130 kt, +/- 5 kt).
I know the SFMR readings were coming down, and the last pass about 2 1/2 hours before landfall supported the 135 kt intensity. However, the pressure appeared to rise some more between the last pass around 0745Z (917mb) and landfall around 1015Z. There was decent data from two storm chasers of 929mb (on the fringe of the eye with very strong winds) and 926mb (just inside the eye with moderate winds). That supports a landfall pressure in the 921-924 range. I would split the difference and go with 923mb. That rise in pressure also lends itself to slight additional weakening. Make no mistake, though, it was still a VERY intense storm...
I completely agree with your reasoning. The eyewall replacement is a key factor supporting high-end Category-4 vs. Category-5 status at landfall. Observations support this.
If your proposed changes were adopted in the posthumous analysis (tropical-cyclone report), then the rankings for Puerto Rico would appear as follows:
- 1928 #4 — 140 knots / 931 mb
- 2017 Maria — 130 knots / 923 mb
- 1932 #9 — 125 knots / 943 mb
- 1899 #3 — 120 knots / 940 mb
- 1989 Hugo — 110 knots / 946 mb
On the other hand, reanalysis could well upgrade Hugo to 115 knots at landfall near Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico...