For the first time since monitoring of tropical cyclones began a tropical storm in the South Atlantic reached a force of Category 1 on 26th March, 2004. By the 28th it had strengthened to Category 2, when it reached Santa Catarina Province of Brazil. Even though it weakened somewhat before landfall, it caused US$ 350–425 million damage (McTaggart-Cowan, et al., 2006), killing 4 people and injuring 518 others (Marcelino, et al., 2004).
It was commonly thought that tropical cyclones could not be generated in the South Atlantic Ocean. Today there is still no scientific agreement on the cause of the Catarina cyclone, but it provides a clear demonstration that unexpected events can occur in places where they have not happened before. Longer-term changes in the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere may bring more such surprises.
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