Karl hits the Yucatan; two simultaneous Cat 4s in the Atlantic for 2nd time in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:37 PM GMT on September 15, 2010

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The Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 kicked into high gear this morning, with the landfall of Tropical Storm Karl in Mexico, and the simultaneous presence of two Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, Igor and Julia. Tropical Storm Karl's formation yesterday marked the fifth earliest date that an eleventh named storm of the season has formed. The only years more active this early in the season were 2005, 1995, 1936 and 1933. This morning's unexpected intensification of Hurricane Julia into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds has set a new record--Julia is now the strongest hurricane on record so far east. When one considers that earlier this year, Hurricane Earl became the fourth strongest hurricane so far north, it appears that this year's record SSTs have significantly expanded the area over which major hurricanes can exist over the Atlantic. This morning is just the second time in recorded history that two simultaneous Category 4 or stronger storms have occurred in the Atlantic. The only other occurrence was on 06 UTC September 16, 1926, when the Great Miami Hurricane and Hurricane Four were both Category 4 storms for a six-hour period. The were also two years, 1999 and 1958, when we missed having two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes by six hours. Julia's ascension to Category 4 status makes it the 4th Category 4 storm of the year. Only two other seasons have had as many as five Category 4 or stronger storms (2005 and 1999), so 2010 ranks in 3rd place in this statistic. This year is also the earliest a fourth Category 4 or stronger storm has formed (though the fourth Category 4 of 1999, Hurricane Gert, formed just 3 hours later on today's date in 1999.) We've also had four Cat 4+ storms in just twenty days, which beats the previous record for shortest time span for four Cat 4+ storms to appear. The previous record was 1999, 24 days (thanks to Phil Klozbach of CSU for this stat.)


Figure 1. A rare double feature: two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, for only the second time in recorded history.

Karl
Tropical Storm Karl made landfall as a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds and a central pressure of 991 mb at 8:45am EDT this morning on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, just north of the Belize border. Karl took advantage of nearly ideal conditions for intensification, and in just fifteen hours intensified from a tropical disturbance to a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds. Had Karl managed to get its act together just one day earlier, it could have been a major hurricane at landfall this morning. Fortunately, Karl has a relatively small area of strong winds--tropical storm force winds extend out just 45 miles from the center of the storm, and wind damage is not the main concern. Heavy rains are the main concern, and Belize radar shows heavy rain bands from Karl spreading ashore over northern Belize near the border with Mexico. Cancun radar shows that heavy rains are relatively limited, though, near the tourist havens of Cancun and Cozumel.


Figure 2. Radar image of Karl at landfall this morning near the northern Belize/Mexican border. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Forecast for Karl
Karl will traverse the Yucatan Peninsula today and emerge into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche Thursday morning as a much weakened tropical storm, with perhaps 40 - 45 mph top winds. Once in the Gulf, conditions for intensification are ideal, with wind shear is expected to be low, 5 - 10 knots, SSTs will be warm, 29°C - 30°C, and the atmosphere very moist. These conditions, combined with the topography of the surrounding coast which tends to enhance counter-clockwise flow, should allow Karl to intensify into a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall between Tampico and Vercruz, Mexico on Saturday morning. However, since Karl is a small storm, it is possible that passage over the Yucatan will disrupt the storm enough so that it will be much weaker. The ridge of high pressure steering Karl westwards is quite strong, and it is very unlikely that the storm will turn northwest and hit Texas. NHC is giving Brownsville, Texas, an 10% chance of receiving tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph.

Igor
Hurricane Igor put on a burst of intensification last night to put it at its strongest yet, a top-end Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds. Igor has weakened slightly this morning, but remains a formidable presence in the Central Atlantic with its 145 mph winds. Igor continues to show the classic appearance of a major hurricane on satellite imagery, with a well-formed eye, symmetrical cloud pattern, plenty of low-level spiral bands, and solid upper-level outflow on all sides.


Figure 3. Hurricane Igor as captured at 18 UTC Tuesday September 14, 2010, from the International Space Station. Image credit: Douglas Wheelock, NASA.

Intensity forecast for Igor
Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and is expected to remain low for the next 2 - 3 days. Waters are warm, 29°C, and will remain 29°C for the next 2 - 3 days. Igor is well armored against any intrusions of dry air for at least the next three days. These conditions should allow Igor to remain at major hurricane status for the next three days. The hurricane will probably undergo one of the usual eyewall replacement cycles intense hurricanes commonly have, where the eyewall collapses and a new eyewall forms from an outer spiral band. This will weaken the hurricane by 10 - 20 mph when it occurs, and may be responsible for the 10 mph weakening Igor experienced early this morning. Igor may regain its lost intensity over the next 36 hours. By Saturday morning, 36 hours before the core of Igor is expected to pass Bermuda's latitude, the trough of low pressure steering Igor northwestwards should bring moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots to the storm, weakening it. The SHIPS models predicts shear will rise to the high range, 20 - 30 knots, during the final 24 hours of the storm's approach to Bermuda. Igor will also be tracking over cooler 28°C waters during this period, and substantial weakening by perhaps 20 - 30 mph can be expected. Igor will still probably be at least a Category 2 hurricane on its closest pass by Bermuda on Sunday. NHC is giving Bermuda a 13% chance of experiencing hurricane force winds from Igor, but this probability is likely too low. The Bermuda Weather Service is calling for Category 1 or 2 hurricane conditions for the island on Sunday, with 20 - 25 foot waves in the offshore waters.

Track forecast for Igor
The track forecast for Igor remains unchanged. Igor has made its long-anticipated turn to the west-northwest, in response to the steering influence of a broad trough of low pressure moving across the Western Atlantic. This trough will steer Igor several hundred miles to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and high waves should be the only impact of Igor on the islands. Igor appears likely to be a threat to Bermuda, and that island can expect tropical storm force winds as early as Saturday. Igor will be moving at about 12 - 15 mph as it approaches Bermuda. Tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph will probably extend out about 250 miles to the north of Igor on Saturday, so Bermuda can expect 18 hours of tropical storm force winds before the core of Igor makes its closest pass. In all, Bermuda is likely to experience a very long pounding of 24 - 36 hours with winds in excess of tropical storm force.

The models have been in substantial agreement over multiple runs that Igor will miss the U.S. East Coast, and the danger to the U.S. will probably only come in the form of high waves. Large swells from Igor have arrived in the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and will spread westwards over the next few days, reaching the U.S. East Coast on Friday. By Saturday, much of the East Coast from northern Florida to Cape Cod Massachusetts can expect waves of 3 - 4 meters (10 - 13 feet), causing dangerous rip currents and significant beach erosion. These waves will continue through Sunday then gradually die down. The latest NOAA marine forecast for Cape Hatteras, North Carolina calls for 8 - 10 foot waves on Saturday, and 9 - 12 foot waves on Sunday.

Igor may pass very close to Newfoundland, Canada, but it is too early too assess the likelihood of this happening.

Julia
Hurricane Julia put on a remarkable and unexpected burst of intensification this morning to become the season's fourth Category 4 storm. Julia's 135 mph winds make it the strongest hurricane on record so far east; the previous record was held by the eighth storm of 1926 which was only a 120 mph Category 3 hurricane at Julia's current longitude. Julia's intensification was a surprise, since SSTs in the region are about 27.5°C, which is just 1°C above the threshold needed to sustain a Category 1 hurricane. Julia is headed northwest, out to sea, and it is unlikely that this storm will trouble any land areas. SSTs will steadily cool to 26.5°C today, and further intensification today is unlikely. Shear will be moderate, 10 - 20 knots, over Julia during the next two days, then rise sharply to 30 knots 3 - 5 days from now, as Julia moves within 1000 miles of Igor and begins to experience strong northwesterly winds from her big brother's upper level outflow. This should substantially weaken Julia.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The GFS and ECMWF models develop a new tropical depression a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa 3 - 6 days from now. The GFS also develops a tropical depression in the eastern Caribbean 6 - 7 days from now.

Portlight's 2-year anniversary
On September 14, 2008, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike on Texas and Louisiana moved members of the wunderground community to put into action their own impromptu relief effort. From this humble beginning has grown a disaster-relief charity I have been proud to support--Portlight.org. We've been blessed this hurricane season with relatively few landfalling storms, so Portlight's new disaster relief trailer (Figure 4), financed with a $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, has yet to be deployed. With five weeks of peak hurricane season still to come, the new trailer may yet get a call to action. The mobile kitchen in the trailer will be able to feed several hundred people per day, and the trailer is equipped with portable ramps to help with shelter accessibility, as well as durable medical equipment to facilitate mobility and independence for survivors. The trailer is mobile, and Portlight is willing to load it up and fly it to Bermuda, if Igor ends up making a mess there!

The lack of landfalling storms has allowed Portlight to continue to concentrate their efforts on Haiti, where their assistance has been a tremendous boost for those most in need, the disabled. Portlight is working on constructing steel shelters out of shipping containers for homeless Haitians, as detailed in the Haitian Relief Recap blog post. Please visit the Portlight.org web site or the Portlight blog to learn more and donate. A few other items of note:

Portlight has been able to facilitate providing assistance to people with disabilities in Pakistan, where the worst natural disaster in their history has left 4 million homeless. While not directly involved in delivering relief, Portlight has been able to connect local Disabled People's Organizations with important sources of food, water, filtration systems, and medical equipment.

ABC News4 in Charleston broadcast a story about the Portlight relief trailer, and Portlight has also been featured on the Pacifica Radio Network.

Portlight launched a quarterly newsletter, The Portlight View, which can be seen on the newly redesigned website.


Figure 4. The new Portlight disaster relief trailer, funded by their $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Im sure NHC is right with their forecast but Igor is jogging west and does look like he may miss the turn, just imo. I am ready to surf that puppy tomorrow night, bring it on :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mcmurray02:


Yea, I've seen a few of those. I think Fay comes to mind. I remember coming up with the theory at that time that for small (and young), tropical systems, that are over land that is low (near sea level, with little or no hills and no mountains), and surrounded by warm water then there is still enough to allow for continued organization. Storms that are large however, would be subjected to disorganization and weakness. There's a point of equilibrium. Just look at some of these "invests" that come off of Africa, already spinning, ready to go.


Agreed 100%. I'd just add that if a storm was RI right before landfall, it means that it was in perfect upper air conditions. Low shear, anticyclone pumping out mass aloft, etc.
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WV View
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Quoting btwntx08:
a copy and paste link i can here u go
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/carib/gfs/00/images/gfs_ten_384s.gif


I tried to paste it but it won't..boooo! What is the big blob to the NE of the blob over FL?
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
What did I miss? Did DJeff and fldewey get engaged? Did Stormw stage a bloodless coup and take over the blog?Been in the field all day. Nothing like working in the sun for 10 hours to make you feel old.
It was nearly that wild. Shrapnel flying and lines drawn in the sand. Not sure how it will all shake out tomorrow. Glad to see you back on. Got a new avatar for you to check out.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Or, are you on PDT. Can't remember where the dividing line is.
No, you're right most of Idaho is in MDT zone.
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2629. Prgal
Quoting PrivateIdaho:
What did I miss? Did DJeff and fldewey get engaged? Did Stormw stage a bloodless coup and take over the blog?Been in the field all day. Nothing like working in the sun for 10 hours to make you feel old.


Please dont start.
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Quoting dracko19:


Well of course its great.....going in....

and coming out, it should increase the speed of Karl.. :)
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2627. pcola57
Quoting btwntx08:
a copy and paste link i can here u go
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/carib/gfs/00/images/gfs_ten_384s.gif


October 2nd looks like a bad day for me..
Models have been consistant with this...
Thanks btwntx08
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Quoting caneswatch:


I don't think that trough is going to take him northwest any time soonida, not at all eveyn.

then florida and the gulf coast better get ready
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Quoting osuwxguynew:


There have been a few storms in my memory that when they are RI before landfall that their midlevel structure will continue to improve past landfall.

As far as the likely winds at the moment, I'd think 35-40 mph is all. But he will likely ramp up quickly if the low level center is vertically stacked (probably is since the easterly shear is only 10-15 knots).


Yea, I've seen a few of those. I think Fay comes to mind. I remember coming up with the theory at that time that for small (and young), tropical systems, that are over land that is low (near sea level, with little or no hills and no mountains), and surrounded by warm water then there is still enough to allow for continued organization. Storms that are large however, would be subjected to disorganization and weakness. There's a point of equilibrium. Just look at some of these "invests" that come off of Africa, already spinning, ready to go.
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2623. 7544
interesting notice we have 3 storms all at lat 20 north at once hmmmmm
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Quoting osuwxguynew:


There have been a few storms in my memory that when they are RI before landfall that their midlevel structure will continue to improve past landfall.

As far as the likely winds at the moment, I'd think 35-40 mph is all. But he will likely ramp up quickly if the low level center is vertically stacked (probably is since the easterly shear is only 10-15 knots).

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement.
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Ok, Karl is getting its act together. Raw T numbers dropped to 4.4 as it came off the coast. Lets see what happens now over water....

UW-CIMSS Automated Satellite-Based
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT)
Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Estimation Algorithm


Current Intensity Analysis




UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 16 SEP 2010 Time : 034500 UTC
Lat : 19:17:39 N Lon : 90:52:56 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.3 / 965.5mb/ 97.2kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.0 4.8 4.4

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +1.5mb

Center Temp : -52.7C Cloud Region Temp : -69.0C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.5T/hour
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Good evening, MDT.
What did I miss? Did DJeff and fldewey get engaged? Did Stormw stage a bloodless coup and take over the blog?Been in the field all day. Nothing like working in the sun for 10 hours to make you feel old.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Good evening, MDT.
Or, are you on PDT. Can't remember where the dividing line is.
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Hold on, I think everyone may be jumping the gun with Karl (at least temporarily). Yes, Karl's structure did hold up quite well, but all this stuff about the ADT estimates shooting through the roof are off. Karl has lost a good portion of convection to his north and east due to his crossing and ADT is more than likely latching onto a dry slot and mistaking it for an eye. Once he gets back over water and filters it out, the T# should drop a bit. But as I said earlier, his structure remains fairly impressive and it shouldn't be too long after he hits water that he may become a hurricane.

Latest ADT on Karl:



UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 16 SEP 2010 Time : 034500 UTC
Lat : 19:17:39 N Lon : 90:52:56 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.3 / 965.5mb/ 97.2kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.0 4.8 4.4

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : 1.5mb

Center Temp : -52.7C Cloud Region Temp : -69.0C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : SPIRAL ANALYSIS

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.5T/hour
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF



Latest microwave pass available for Karl (sorry, it's a little old), showing his core remaining fairly intact.
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it still amazes me how a tropical storm or hurricane can be in the gulf ... and some people in houston galveston are glueless about it .... 5.6million people it's never too early to talk about what might be out there.... hey if it doesn't happen ...good... but if it does .. be prepared....i would rather know what might happen then be stupid...
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Quoting MississippiBoy:

if it don't than all bids are off where ever he goes.


I don't think that trough is going to take him northwest any time soon, not at all even.
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Quoting Hou77083:

I keep telling people that Mexican food is great!


Well of course its great.....going in....
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2611. xcool
lol
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Quoting btwntx08:

oops i forgot to finish this part "at the end of this month and into early oct"


hmmmmm ok. Thanks!
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting sunlinepr:
Notice the angle of attack of the trough now ready to affect Igor.... if he doesn't turns NW with it, he never will


if it don't than all bids are off where ever he goes.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
What the heck did Karl have for breakfast? Awestruck he looks as good as he does traversing on the Yukutan like that.

I keep telling people that Mexican food is great!
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Quoting PrivateIdaho:
Well...Duh!! lol!
Good evening, MDT.
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Quoting btwntx08:
i wiah i can post the image but i dont have the image button or the other ones lol...if i was on my laptop i wouldve cause i have firefox there on here i only have ie


OK..how about a link?!?
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Quoting OctoberToRemember:
HELLO, can someone plz post the final image of the GFS run? Geeze, -____-.


At the time you speak of, 384 hours, the GFS shows a low over Tampa. However, the image below shows the 300mb winds at that time and you can see 30-50knot westerly or WNW winds in that area at that time as a result of the model also showing a massive trough digging in over the eastern US.

The system would be sheared apart. The GFS is likely showing more of a hybrid subtropical storm.



Oh and of course this is 384 hours. aka one of a trillion possible outcomes.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Hello SJ, hope you had a good day. The Zoo is in full swing. "Strange thing's afoot, at the Circle K".
Well...Duh!! lol!
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Notice the angle of attack of the trough now ready to affect Igor.... if he doesn't turns NW with it, he never will

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2600. JLPR2
Quoting futuremet:


It blinked...


LOL
It appears it did. XD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8697
Quoting osuwxguynew:


There have been a few storms in my memory that when they are RI before landfall that their midlevel structure will continue to improve past landfall.

As far as the likely winds at the moment, I'd think 35-40 mph is all. But he will likely ramp up quickly if the low level center is vertically stacked (probably is since the easterly shear is only 10-15 knots).
Karl has not suffered any real structural damage, to my amateur eyes. Should spin back up quickly.
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2597. JLPR2
Any computer savvy folks on now that could answer a little question about computer processors? :S

Sorry off going so off topic. XD
To keep on topic here is a picture of Igor, 25minutes old I think...
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8697
2596. leo305
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Leo, Hope my attempt at humor wasn't taken the wrong way. I have no desire to offend you.


I wasn't offended, it didn't have a pin hole eye, but a very small one
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
Quoting JLPR2:


That says eye, but I dont see an eye?

O.o


It blinked...
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Quoting dracko19:
Um....holy crikey!!!

Karl is up to 5.3!!! That's 97 knots!! He's almost a major hurricane already according to ADT!! Geezus!! We may have a situation occuring here...

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 16 SEP 2010 Time : 031500 UTC
Lat : 19:24:53 N Lon : 90:44:37 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.3 / 965.5mb/ 97.2kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.3 5.3 5.3

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +1.5mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR :N/A km

Center Temp : -43.4C Cloud Region Temp : -66.2C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

Holy mother of...

But I don't see an eye, but it's going pop out eventually, right?
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2593. JLPR2
Quoting Bordonaro:

Satellite blackout from 1215AM EDT to about 3PM EDT!! He is moving, however the satellite is not updating!!


The satellite is updating, check the date stamp on it.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8697
Quoting btwntx08:

oops i forgot to finish this part "at the end of this month and into early oct"


Can you post a chart run that shows this. I'd like to see it...just don't know where to look. (help!)
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Quoting mcmurray02:
The development of Karl's eye (if I'm seeing that correctly) over land should certainly add to the academic study of storm decay. This is what keeps the "show" interesting. I hope all keep safe.


There have been a few storms in my memory that when they are RI before landfall that their midlevel structure will continue to improve past landfall.

As far as the likely winds at the moment, I'd think 35-40 mph is all. But he will likely ramp up quickly if the low level center is vertically stacked (probably is since the easterly shear is only 10-15 knots).
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Leo: Hope my attempt at humor wasn't taken the wrong way. I have no desire to offend you.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.