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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2436. leo305
Quoting eyewallmiami:


It's not the "older men" on this blog that are offensive and disrespectful, it is the young bloggers who seem to have no boundaries. Maybe they "might" just learn something from one of these "old guys".


it goes both ways from what I've seen, we all should respect each other, and realize some don't know as much as others, and if someone says something that isn't correct, it would be right to correct them and explain the corrections, that's all.. instead of calling them an idiot.
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2435. Relix
Quoting sunlinepr:
If Igor keeps hanging on 20N, we will have storm PR...


At its current bearing winds will be 300 + miles away. It won't get any closer than that. Now, if you want two systems to track, there's one in the middle of the atlantic and one off africa
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2433. Relix
Quoting sunlinepr:
Sounds true, the interaction of the E outflow of Igor with Julia creates a dry air area behind him, seems like he's moving more to the west. If Igor reaches 60W, being still in 20N or less, We better prepare Puerto Rico....


He won't leave even a bit of rain.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


1 from me too.

Wow I've missed a lot while studying for accounting. This is just complete insanity. No offense, but it all speaks for itself.
Hello SJ, hope you had a good day. The Zoo is in full swing. "Strange thing's afoot, at the Circle K".
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting remembercelia:

We've been getting pretty good coastal showers in the Coastal Bend the past 3 days. Does that mean any weakness in the ridge? (Really, I don't know.)


No, that's just local effects.
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If Igor keeps hanging on 20N, we will have storm PR...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9690
Quoting Skyepony:


I concur. Julia making it to a Cat 4 & all certainly ups the chances of playing the wild Julia card~ inviting Igor to dance. She got North, wrapped some dry air enough to push on Igor.


So Igor is being pushed a little further west than expected because of Julia and not because he's pumping the ridge?

And quite honestly, Igor doesn't appear to be outside of the cone from a few days ago.
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2427. JRRP
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Sound true, the interaction of the E outflow of Igor with Julia creates a dry air area behind him, seems like he's moving more to the west. If Igor reaches 60W, being still in 20N or less, We better prepare Puerto Rico....


don't worry he wont, according to the NHC... and me :)
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2422. 7544
igor has gotton use to going west and still is imo but something has to turn him soon all the models and experts cant be way off base and cant be all that wrong or can they ?
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2421. leo305
Quoting Skyepony:


I concur. Julia making it to a Cat 4 & all certainly ups the chances of playing the wild Julia card~ inviting Igor to dance. She got North, wrapped some dry air enough to push on Igor.


that seems likely, the forecast never had julia as a major hurricane, and julia probbaly pushed the high further south and west towards igor.. causing him to move more west?

And as storm said, Igor may be a strong/large enough circulation to evade the trough or at least not be as influenced as originally thought by the "experts"?
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2420. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting PSUweathermet:


Wow look at the dry air almost pushing down on Igor from the NE, think thats what is keeping him more westerly?


I concur. Julia making it to a Cat 4 & all certainly ups the chances of playing the wild Julia card~ inviting Igor to dance. She got North, wrapped some dry air enough to push on Igor.
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2419. CalTex
To 2313. ncstorm 3:26 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Pleae be quiet or write about the tropical weather! Enough already, I'm getting tired of reading this BS.

To everyone else:

Karl is looking pretty good for a weak storm that just crossed land. Hermine drowned us here in Victoria, when will we know what the outlook here is for Karl?

Also, why don't the updates mention it when the guidance track is shifted west a bunch? It only mentions that Igor is still tracking WNW, when most of the day he's been going due west or even south.

I'm confused, please help me.
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Quoting StormW:
Ok...this will show the phenomenon of pumping the ridge. The steering map clearly shows the weakness and how close it is to the hurricane. The A/B high that sailingover mentioned, is to his NNE...not even touching him.




Go here, and zoom in real close and look in front of Igor...see how he is pushing into the trof? And you see that dark patch to his NW or NNW pushin west. Not to mention you can see a faint flow west of him nearer to the mid an upper atmosphere Guess what...it isn't the A/B high

LINK



And this puts the future track of Igor where?
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Sounds true, the interaction of the E outflow of Igor with Julia creates a dry air area behind him, seems like he's moving more to the west. If Igor reaches 60W, being still in 20N or less, We better prepare Puerto Rico....
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9690
We don't know where Igor will track. He still is moving WNW as of the 11pm report. I thought the NW turn was suppose to happen. But in any case Igor is definetly something to watch and not just for Bermuda.jmo
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Thank God we got all our pent up frustrations out before the CONUS threats approach. And it didn't cost a copay or require an Rx. :)
lol....On my plan it's not even subject to the deductible. Like a routine physical. At my age, they even comp you the colonoscopy. lol
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Quoting StormW:
Ok...this will show the phenomenon of pumping the ridge. The steering map clearly shows the weakness and how close it is to the hurricane. The A/B high that sailingover mentioned, is to his NNE...not even touching him.




Go here, and zoom in real close and look in front of Igor...see how he is pushing into the trof? And you see that dark patch to his NW or NNW pushin west. Not to mention you can see a faint flow west of him nearer to the mid an upper atmosphere Guess what...it isn't the A/B high

LINK



Looking at that, you can see the line that has bridged between the two highs, almost blocking the weakness? Is that caused by Igor, or an unexpected strengthening of the high pressures?
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Looks to be holding fairly steadily according to water vapor imagery. May have even strengthened a tad. The trough is riding to the north of it, so it shouldn't allow too big a poleward turn, though a slight one is possible.

We've been getting pretty good coastal showers in the Coastal Bend the past 3 days. Does that mean any weakness in the ridge? (Really, I don't know.)
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Complete Update


AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI
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2408. leo305
Karl has a very tight spin to it, it could ramp up real quick once it gets over water..
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Quoting sunlinepr:
WVloops...



Wow look at the dry air almost pushing down on Igor from the NE, think thats what is keeping him more westerly?
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Wave behind Julia should be watched for trouble down the road.
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2403. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #12
SEVERE TROPICAL STORM FANAPI (T1011)
12:00 PM JST September 16 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category Two Typhoon In Sea South Of Okinawa

At 3:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Fanapi (980 hPa) located at 21.5N 128.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 55 knots with gusts of 80 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north northeast slowly

Dvorak Intensity:

Storm Force Winds
=================
30 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
================
150 NM from the center in eastern quadrant
100 NM from the center in western quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 22.6N 128.2E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
45 HRS: 23.5N 126.2E - 75 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
69 HRS: 24.2N 123.1E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Is Julia eating African waves emerging??

I don't think so but that wave still needs to be watched. Pretty moist near the Cape Verde islands too.
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Quoting Ryuujin:
How is the ridge holding up over Texas? If it pulls out to the east coukd we see Karl make a swooping turn like Hermine towards the N?


Looks to be holding fairly steadily according to water vapor imagery. May have even strengthened a tad. The trough is riding to the north of it, so it shouldn't allow too big a poleward turn, though a slight one is possible.
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2400. leo305
Quoting sunlinepr:
So that means that those waves will keep on going at their low latitude.... New panorama???


Some models develop the waves just off africa right now later on
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Now I know why Igor is moving west so surreptitiously. He's tryin to get away from Julia. Can't blame him.


I hear that, go Ravens!

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Quoting StormW:


Atmo...what's the current intensity of Igor at the moment...quicker than looking it up...Net running slow
???
Last full advisory was 135 kt mph. Almost an hour ago. But, I'd drop him 5 more looking at these IR loops...

EDIT: time for bed. Nighty-night.
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Quoting Bradenton:


At least my nose isn't brown.


Haha, glad mine isn't neither. Grow up dude, your and the others bashings of Storm is the most stupidest thing i've seen since i've been on here. He rarely makes a mistake, the last time he did was a while ago, and he is one of the most respected people on here and you guys are acting like it's the end of the world when it comes to him.
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So that means that those waves will keep on going at their low latitude.... New panorama???
Quoting leo305:


Julia is too small and high up in latitude, waves just aren't coming off as large as they could be
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9690
2394. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting angiest:

OK, let me try this again.  What I am saying is that I don't think Bermuda will see much difference being on the east or west side of Igor's eye since, with a storm that powerful, I don't think it will make much difference.  Add to that is Bermuda is an island and will take surge from any side.


Actually surge is the result of a long shallow coast.. It flows around an island, especially one not on a long shallow bar. Note the official forecast taking Igor over the right side of Bermuda.. forecast surge 1-2m (light blue).

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2392. flsky
Quoting catastropheadjuster:
StormW I sent a whole bunch of stuff that was wrote on here about you and alot of other stuff to admin to.

Night Night
sheri

This is an example of things meant for WU EMAIL!!!!
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Hello BERMUDA....we know you have a cyclone headed your way and we do care. I apologize on behalf of the blog to not being there for you and the needless drama at a crucial time. Hopefully, we'll get things straightened out soon and able to offer what we can as a supplement to the NHC and your local officials.


+1 from me too.

Wow I've missed a lot while studying for accounting. This is just complete insanity. No offense, but it all speaks for itself.
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Quoting StormW:


Atmo...what's the current intensity of Igor at the moment...quicker than looking it up...Net running slow


115 kt according to the NHC.
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2389. Ryuujin
How is the ridge holding up over Texas? If it pulls out to the east coukd we see Karl make a swooping turn like Hermine towards the N?
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2388. leo305
Quoting sunlinepr:
Is Julia eating African waves emerging??



Julia is too small and high up in latitude, waves just aren't coming off as large as they could be
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WVloops...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9690

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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.

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