Unprecedented storm hits Brazil

A storm of unprecedented strength hit Brazil's southern coast Saturday, killing two people and damaging thousands of homes.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | March 27, 2004

A storm of unprecedented strength hit Brazil's southern coast late Saturday, killing two people and damaging tens of thousands of homes.

The storm, Catarina, hit the coasts of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul states.

The storm damaged an estimated 20,000 homes in Santa Catarina, destroying 500 of them, according to reports from Brazil's civil defense department.

Govermment officials were setting up shelters in schools.

Is Catarina the first-ever hurricane spotted in the South Atlantic?

Weather historians may never know since nobody had the hurricane hunter planes to clinch the decision.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center was in dispute with Brazilian forecasters as to whether this was the first hurricane ever spotted in the South Atlantic.

Using satellite data, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported the storm had winds of up to 80 mph, making it the first-ever hurricane tracked in that area.

But Brazil says no the storm had top winds of around 56 mph.

But neither side had planes to fly into the storm to prove their point.

Brazil doesn't own any hurricane hunter aircraft at all, and the U.S. doesn't have planes anywhere near that area.

Brazilian officials called it an "extra-tropical cyclone" not a hurricane.

Nobody sent out hurricane advisories Saturday.

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