It's a Thingamabobbercane
In August 2007, Tropical Storm Erin gradually dissipated after making landfall in Texas. But a confluence of environmental factors, including abundant low-level moisture and an area of low pressure approaching from the west, set the stage for a rare (but not unprecedented) re-intensification over Oklahoma.
As seen in the adjacent radar image from Aug. 19, the so-called "ghost" of Tropical Storm Erin developed a distinct eye-like structure with sustained winds reaching 50 knots and gusts to 70 knots. Ironically, the inland storm was stronger and looked more like a tropical storm than when it was over the Gulf of Mexico. But no one knew quite what to call it.
Keep reading for more on the unusual reincarnation of Erin. For local weather, see our full forecast into early next week.
CNN said the remnants of Erin unexpectedly turned central Oklahoma into a "wash basin" with helicopters rescuing people from flood waters and rooftops. Rainfall and flooding associated with the invigorated storm resulted in seven deaths and millions of dollars in damage. However, a few hours later, the storm began losing strength again, and late on Aug. 19, Erin weakened significantly as the circulation dissipated over northeastern Oklahoma.
So, what was Erin? The official report on Erin released by the National Hurricane Center could not come up with an official answer. The prevailing opinion was that Erin was NOT a tropical cyclone while over Oklahoma, because the "organized deep convection" (i.e., intense thunderstorms) did not last long enough to be classified as such. And with no frontal structure it could not be classified as an extratropical storm, either. What about a subtropical storm? NHC says its duration over Oklahoma was too short to be categorized as such.
That seems to leave only one other possibility, namely a "Thingamabobbercane," a term coined by Weather Underground blogger Jeff Masters.
Whatever it's called, the storm's characteristics and the mechanisms responsible for its redevelopment are undoubtedly ripe for future study.
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