The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season had a slow start, with very few named storms in the first months of the season. But in early September, the previously hurricane-less season threw out four hurricanes in a row: Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, and Helene. A persistent are of high pressure over the U.S. East Coast steered the last three of these four storms away into the North Atlantic. Hurricanes Gordon and Helene both reached Category 3 status. As of September 19, Helene was not expected to make landfall on any of the Atlantic islands, though it could pass close enough to Bermuda to bring strong storm surges.
This photo-like image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on September 19, 2006, at 10:15 a.m. local time (14:15 UTC). Helene is a well-defined, sprawling storm system with long spiral arms, a tightly wound central portion, and a distinct eyewall of clouds encircling a cloud-filled eye. These are all telltale signs of a powerful hurricane. According to the University of Hawaii’s Tropical Storm Information Center, Helene had sustained winds reaching as high as 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour), making it a powerful Category 3 storm. As of September 19, Helene was predicted to build power slightly since it was traveling over warm seas with no significant land to disrupt it.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data provided courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response team.
Hurricane Helene was the eighth named storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season. Helene intensified from a tropical depression (area of low air pressure) south of the Cape Verde Islands and became a tropical storm on September 12.