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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The process of hurricane intensification is not completely understood and forecasting when and how much a storm will strengthen is still a difficult challenge.

Sometimes computer models don’t catch all of the interactions involved in predicting intensification but in the case of Hurricane Michael, a careful inspection of the upper-level features in the atmosphere reveal one factor that may have contributed to it.

A large, autumn trough or dip in the jet stream over the western U.S. that helped steer Michael to the north and northeast combined with an upper-level low-pressure area near Cuba to stretch or ventilate the upper part of the hurricane.

GALLERY: THE WRATH OF HURRICANE MICHAEL

In its simplest form, air flows into a hurricane near the ocean, up through the thunderstorms and eyewall, and out away from the hurricane at the top.

If any of those processes are interrupted or restricted, the hurricane’s strength will likely be disrupted.

In the case of Michael, the upper winds were so favorable for the storm, it helped ramp up the other processes and rapidly strengthen the hurricane.

Craig Setzer

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