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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WVloops...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
2384. leo305
Quoting atmoaggie:
But surge, there, is nothing like surge along a long coastline with a broad continental shelf.

If the water has the chance to go around land, much of it will. Impossible in the GoM.


that's true, but it also depends on how much above sea level an area is, if you have 30 plus FOOT waves being forced onto bermuda, and they are right at sea level.. well good luck to them.

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2383. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospherical Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #3
TROPICAL STORM INDAY (FANAPI)
11:00 AM PhST September 16 2010
=============================================

Tropical Storm "INDAY" has intensified further as it moves northward.

At 10:00 AM PhST, Tropical Storm Inday (Fanapi) located at 21.6°N 127.9°E or 590 km east northeast of Basco, Batanes has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 55 knots.

Additional Information
=======================
This weather disturbance is still far to affect any part of the country.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin alert to be issued at 11 PM today.
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2378. Ineluki
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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I just started here...love the info and the pix. Have posted only twice. I do want to ask those who have these great resources to share to continue on, and not let those who don't to spoil things for all of us. I for one am not as knowledgeable as I'd like to be, and have learned a lot here.
On an actual weather note, the cone for Karl seems to have wavered over the past 2 days. We could sure use the rain but not a hurricane. Been there, done that (as my username will tell you).
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yeah ive heard of this strong cold front also.. being serious yeah patterns are beginning to change. aforementioned stormw mentioned this several weeks ago since everyone is on his case.. in that regard can we just drop it all, ignore trolls and get back to hurricane discussion...
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Is Julia eating African waves emerging??

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Speaking of true colors Bradenton, I think we already found yours.
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2373. angiest

Quoting jeffs713:

Exactly. Anything over 5 days is generally worthless, except for cyclogenesis. (I say this as steering factors vary with strength, and if something isn't even initialized.. how can you tell how strong it will - or won't - be?)


Right, that far out you look at patterns.  Storm forming in the Caribbean, and likely moving into the Gulf somewhere. That part is also pretty constant now, but there are eastern outliers on that as well.
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Quoting leo305:


hey anythings possible..

but going back to it, actually if the system is west of the island, it would be worse since that would pull the strongest surge into the island
But surge, there, is nothing like surge along a long coastline with a broad continental shelf.

If the water has the chance to go around land, much of it will. Impossible in the GoM.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting flsky:

Fans are precious.

Extreme weakness in one's position or opinion, or a lack of logic or sense can usually be detected when one resorts to ridicule as a debate modality. It's not witticism, friend, it's the opposite.
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Hey, my background is chemistry, not meteorology. I mean, I understand the science, but I need you experts out there to explain it to me. I just hate to lose anybody who can back up what they're saying with solid theory, even if it turns out to be wrong sometimes. This is an inexact science, right? That's why the NHC forecast, which I usually defend, has been no better than average with Igor.
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Quoting angiest:

Right but GFS has been showing this system for several days now, as it has done with the bulk of the CV storms this year.  Track is not important this far out, cyclogenesis is.

Exactly. Anything over 5 days is generally worthless, except for cyclogenesis. (I say this as steering factors vary with strength, and if something isn't even initialized.. how can you tell how strong it will - or won't - be?)
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2366. will40
Quoting leo305:


hey anythings possible..

but going back to it, actually if the system is west of the island, it would be worse since that would pull the strongest surge into the island


ty thats what i have been saying all along. It makes no dif if it is an island. the east side of IGOR will be worse on them!
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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.
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If I remember right, Ike posted something about long range local forecasts showing a strong cold front coming down to the SE the last week of September

if that is the case I would say the Eastern Gulf would be more likely, but timing of that front would obviously be the key
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Quoting angiest:

Minimal to moderate cat 1 seem likely.  Of course, it could pull an Alex.
Thank you for answering me. Have a good night.
sheri
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2362. angiest

Quoting CoopNTexas:
12z Florida, 18z Mexico...gfs took awhile to pick up on 92L/Karl...grain of salt.
Right but GFS has been showing this system for several days now, as it has done with the bulk of the CV storms this year.  Track is not important this far out, cyclogenesis is.
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2361. flsky
Quoting Bradenton:


True colors.

Is this an actual quote of his?
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i take the Good For Something with a grain of salt.
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2359. xcool
CoopNTexas .lmao
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Quoting CoopNTexas:
12z Florida, 18z Mexico...gfs took awhile to pick up on 92L/Karl...grain of salt.


18Z never has it hitting Mexico, at the end of the turn the storm slows down and turns NNE
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12z Florida, 18z Mexico...gfs took awhile to pick up on 92L/Karl...grain of salt.
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2353. leo305
Quoting atmoaggie:
Never seen a real slow-mover at 33 N in the Atlantic...


jeanne was a slow mover and loopty looped back towards the U.S, earlier models had igor nearly stalling over bermuda as well

but going back to it, actually if the system is west of the island, it would be worse since that would pull the strongest surge into the island
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Quoting CoopNTexas:
the last gfs shows florida...all over the place
Whoa.
*looks*
No, GFS leaves Florida right where it is and moves everything else around it.
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2351. angiest

Quoting catastropheadjuster:
I am fixing to go to sleep, but I just had to say there's alot of
JERKS  on here and each and everyone of you know who you
are. I guess the way u act makes you feel like the Bigger Man well really it makes you look very immature childish,jealous. know kiddies or whatever you call yourself it time to grow up. Where your big boy pants.

How strong does anyone think Karl is gonna get? .
Minimal to moderate cat 1 seem likely.  Of course, it could pull an Alex.
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Quoting OctoberToRemember:


Plz provide references and or citations next time, or else it's called, ''plagiarism'', thanks.


What are you talking about???
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2349. xcool
CoopNTexas HUH
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2347. angiest

Quoting CoopNTexas:
the last gfs shows florida...all over the place
Huh? I thought it bounced off the Mexican coast.
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2346. 7544
Quoting jpsb:
Igor should have started moving NW 24-48 hours ago. Further evidence of the "pumping the ridge" theory can be found looking at his track when he weaked from a strong 4 due to dry air. Igor WHEN did turn north for a bit, but as he strengened he gained more west. I am firmly in Storms camp on this debate. He proof is in Igor track.


thanks and alos believe STROM W was right on when he said igor will pump the ridge look where he is now and is still pumping the ridge if anyone thinks that storm w doesnt know what hes doing should have the white coats coming for them and be a mental ward lol good luck in your new venture strom w u will be missed here :{
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Quoting leo305:


this is true, especially if the system isn't moving that fast
Never seen a real slow-mover at 33 N in the Atlantic...
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Quoting pottery:

AHHA!!
you fooled me with an old image, you Naughty Person LOL.


not really this says it is :P
2010SEP16 024500 6.5 936.3/ +1.3 /127.0 6.2 6.2 6.2 NO LIMIT ON OFF -13.46 -68.88 EYE -99 IR 20.07 56.60 COMBO
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the last gfs shows florida...all over the place
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2340. angiest

Quoting 1celia70:
...today ..dr.master's post ...elsewhere in the tropics.... stating the tropical depression that the GFS model is picking up in 6-7 days.... it has been on there now for 3 days..... earlier it showed a cool front picking it up pushing it into florida... but that was one run .... the last run still shows it hitting texas .... not good...
Definitely worth watching for that storm to develop.  GFS is quite consistent in that.
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I'll post this now because A) it's interesting, and B) while it's not directly related to tropical weather, Dr. Masters will very likely cover it in tomorrow's blog entry.

NOAA today released their State of the Climate Global Analysis for August; among the highlights:

  • The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for August 2010 was the third warmest on record.
  • The worldwide land surface temperature made for the second warmest August on record.
  • The worldwide ocean surface temperature tied with 1997 as the sixth warmest August on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June–August 2010 was the second warmest on record.
  • The June–August worldwide land surface temperature wasthe warmest on record.
  • The worldwide ocean surface temperature was the fifth warmest June–August on record.
  • The global combined land and ocean surface temperature tied with 1998 as the warmest January–August period on record.

The effects of the current La Nina are pretty apparent by the blues over the eastern Pacific. Of course, the Russian heat wave is even more apparent...

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

Tropical weather-related image
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*flags all 90% of OT posts*
*dang, this one included*
*and that one ^ *
*and that one --> *
* < -- and that one*
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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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