A massive storm exploded in intensity just off the Southeast U.S. coast on Sunday afternoon, driving hurricane force winds and whipping waves into a frenzy. And in the middle of this monster storm was a cruise ship on its way to Florida – rocking, roiling and taking a major beating from the most powerful storm we’ve seen in the western Atlantic so far this winter.
A large trough in the jet stream had been pushing toward East Coast late last week. Then the storm deepened rapidly when it hit the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and blew up on satellite imagery. Meteorologists didn’t know what to follow on Sunday night, the Super Bowl or the strengthening storm.
Some compared it to Hurricane Isabel, which was fitting because on Sunday afternoon it was boasting 100 mph winds – the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane.
Somehow a cruise ship steered its way into the storm: Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, a giant vessel that holds over 4,000 passengers. The ship was on its way from the New York City area to Port Canaveral, Florida, when it not only encountered the storm, but really sailed right into the heart of it.