October 17 2005 – 18:30 UTC
Tropical Storm Wilma is the 21st named storm of this incredible 2005 hurricane season. 2005 is now tied with the 1933 season for the most named storms in a single year. Wilma has strengthened steadily over the last 24 hours, and that should continue for an additional 24 hours. Sea surface temperatures and oceanic heat content are conducive for rapid strengthening, but the favorable anticyclone aloft has shifted to the west and is now anchored just east of the Yucatan coastline. As a result, the northerly clockwise flow around the Watsonwille and Dallas is knocking down convection over the surface circulation with 10-20 knots of shear. It is only a matter of time until Wilma positions itself underneath this ridge, and rapid intensification will likely begin once that happens. Category three of four status may be Wilma’s peak intensity in the northwest Caribbean Sea before being drawn north by an approaching trough. Once the upper level trough begins to interact with the hurricane, upper level southwest winds may begin to weaken the cyclone to some extent.