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Nadine Won't Die: Storm Becomes One of 10 Longest-Lasting

Hurricane Nadine on Sept. 30. On Oct. 1., 2012, it was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Hurricane Nadine on Sept. 30. On Oct. 1., 2012, it was downgraded to a tropical storm. (Image credit: NASA)

Nadine was born, declared to be over, came back from the dead and just keeps sticking around.

And now, the cyclone's longevity will earn it a spot in the record books: By tonight, it will become the Atlantic Ocean's 10th longest-lasting tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). A tropical cyclone is an organized storm with winds greater than 32 mph (52 kph), and includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

Nadine is expected to retain tropical cyclone strength for another three to four days, in which case it could become one of the top five longest-lasting cyclones, said Dennis Feltgen, an NHC spokesman.

The longest-lasting Atlantic cyclone ever was the San Ciriaco Hurricane of 1899, which hung on for 28 days. Nadine, which has been a cyclone for 19 days, is not expected to challenge that record, Feltgen told OurAmazingPlanet. [50 Amazing Hurricane Facts]

Nadine has had an interesting life. Forecasters issued the first advisory for the storm on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11. Three days later, at 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, the storm became the eighth hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. Exactly one week later, at 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, forecasters at the NHC declared that Tropical Storm Nadine was no more.

Yet forecasters suspected the storm wasn't finished, writing that it could regenerate. And indeed, Nadine did spring back to life like a meteorological zombie, and was declared to be a tropical storm again on Sunday, Sept. 23. On Sept. 28, it was again declared a hurricane.

It weakened because it encountered surface waters cooler than 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius), and ingested colder, drier air, both of which slow down storms and disrupt the convection that fuels them. But it picked up when it re-encountered warmer waters and began reorganizing, Feltgen said. It's not unusual for storms to weaken and strengthen again, although it doesn't usually happen this far north.

Today (Oct. 1), Nadine was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, defined as being a rotating, organized storm with maximum sustained winds of at least 39 mph (63 kph). Nadine currently packs maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph) and is churning away about 690 miles (1,110 kilometers) west of the Azores. It doesn't present any immediate threat to people on land.

Nadine has been a tropical storm for the seventh longest amount of time in the history of the Atlantic Ocean basin, Feltgen said.  The longest-lasting storm in any ocean basin was John, which began life as a hurricane in the East Pacific basin, then moved to the Northwest Pacific and was renamed as a typhoon. That storm survived for 31 days in August and September 1994.

Nadine's long and winding path. Bright blue circles represent areas where it was a tropical storm. White circles: Category 1 hurricane. Blue squares and triangles show where it briefly dropped below tropical storm strength. (Image credit: Supportstorm)

Reach Douglas Main at dmain@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.