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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*flags all 90% of OT posts*
*dang, this one included*
*and that one ^ *
*and that one --> *
* < -- and that one*
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2333. leo305
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.


this is true, especially if the system isn't moving that fast
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...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...
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2328. frcaptn
Quoting eyewallmiami:
"DITTO" Very well said!!

It would be a great loss for those of us that need proper information
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2326. angiest

Quoting wildheron:
substantial damage, as opposed to only one house left standing? (complete obliteration!) everyone i've ever talked to during an approaching 'cane is always praying to not be on the dirty side.
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.
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2322. xcool
excerpt from Crown Weather's 9/14 discussion** http://www.crownweather.com/?page_id=325
Synoptically it seems realistic that we should have a tropical cyclone form in the Caribbean next week. A Kelvin wave now located over the eastern Pacific should track eastward across northern South America and then into the tropical Atlantic by this weekend. This looks to aid in enhancing convection along the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone in an area just east of the Lesser Antilles. At the same time, the Kelvin Wave will also enhance vorticity in the Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and the coast of Africa and should help to spinup at least a couple of more storms over the next 7 days or so.
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Hurricane Igor, Julia Made History Wednesday


At 5 a.m. Wednesday, Hurricane Julia was upgraded to a Category 4 storm, while her brother, Hurricane Igor, maintained his Category 4 status.

In doing so, Julia also became the strongest hurricane on record so far east.

Although the storm was downgraded to a Category 3 at 5 p.m., this 12-hour period marks only the second time in recorded history that two Category 4 hurricanes were active at the same time in the Atlantic.

The other time this occurred was in September 1926. As modern storm naming was not in practice back then, Hurricane Four began on Sept. 2, and this slow-moving storm lasted about 22 days total. This storm remained at sea and did not make landfall in the United States.

During this time, Hurricane Six developed in the Atlantic and strengthened into a Category 4 storm. The storm remained at Category 4 as it made landfall on Sept. 18, hitting Miami directly.

Many deaths from the storm resulted when people took to the city streets as the eye of the storm passed over the city, thinking the storm had ended. According to the NHC, every downtown district building was either destroyed or damaged in the storm.

The storm made its way across the Gulf of Mexico, hitting Pensacola before eventually weakening over Louisiana three days later.

This storm became known as the "Great Miami Hurricane," causing $100 million in damage, which translates to about $1.23 billion in today's dollars.

In the aftermath, the University of Miami adopted the name Hurricanes as their official mascot. According to several reports, the name was chosen because the Great Miami Hurricane delayed the start of their season.
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2320. pottery
Quoting pottery:

Based on that image, Igor has dropped south a good bit from 3 hrs ago ???
He was centered at 20.1N earlier.

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

West of the eye took substantial damage, despite less surge.
substantial damage, as opposed to only one house left standing? (complete obliteration!) everyone i've ever talked to during an approaching 'cane is always praying to not be on the dirty side.
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Quoting angiest:

I would make a snarky comment about that being impossible because strong storms only move north, but then, apparently people wouldn't recognize the point.
No they don't only move north obviously..but if you reread over and over what I have said is if nothing else keeps them from going NORTHWARD they will.. and with that surface and midlevel ridge eroding there was nothing to keep Igor from going north and now he is and getting a little push from troughs..
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2315. flsky
Quoting osuwxguynew:
My 2 Cents since I've made 2 posts about weather and there doesn't seem to be much actual weather talk to be had...

I've been on the blog a long time (under the old name osuwxguy). I think that people get passionate in debating what they're seeing weather-wise. This I encourage and brings about actual debate.

Lately, although I respect the work that StormW does for this blog, he has recently taken on an air of being an all knowing expert even putting himself as a superior to some forecasters down in south Florida that go by the name of the National Hurricane Center.

In particular to comments I have made recently hoping to start a discussion, he immediately shuts down dialogue by saying "Please" in a sarcastic manner.

He should know that there are a good amount of educated people on this blog that are his equals...and plenty of other people that are eager to learn about and enjoy looking at weather. Maybe a break away would be good. Who knows.

As far as this "pumping the ridge phenomena"...

For very large storms like Igor, the models probably resolve a great deal of the subsidence and associated warming of the upper troposphere that is occurring on the periphery of the storm.

Even though Igor by hurricane standards is enormous (particularly for the North Atlantic), it's scale compared to mid-latitude trough/ridges is small. It might have a small additional effect that is not captured by the model...but ultimately they've done a pretty good job this season (at year end I bet they'll have preformed better than years past).

+
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1733
Quoting dracko19:
Weird. Last link was a direct link to the pic below hosted on a sattelite site and the image changed to a 12 hour old pic. I can't explain why. I have screen shotted it and put it on my hosting site so we dont' have that problem. Previous explanation follows:
Eyewall reforming...you can see where its going to end up in this pic:



Nice big eye. Plenty of room for it to contract and pick up speed. Note the new eye will be completely surrounded by extremely cold tops.
Yet, in the IR looking a little less than eye candy...


Somewhat falling apart on the N side. Loop here: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/loop_timestamp.asp?data_folder=goes-r_proving_ground /g15_srso_ir&width=600&height=600
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2311. jpsb
Quoting 7544:
h,,,mmm igor still below 20 was this in the cards or should was he supposed to be further north by now tia
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.
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The next trough is on its way to react with Igor. What would be the result. Move WNW or WSW....???
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
My 2 Cents since I've made 2 posts about weather and there doesn't seem to be much actual weather talk to be had...

I've been on the blog a long time (under the old name osuwxguy). I think that people get passionate in debating what they're seeing weather-wise. This I encourage and brings about actual debate.

Lately, although I respect the work that StormW does for this blog, he has recently taken on an air of being an all knowing expert even putting himself as a superior to some forecasters down in south Florida that go by the name of the National Hurricane Center.

In particular to comments I have made recently hoping to start a discussion, he immediately shuts down dialogue by saying "Please" in a sarcastic manner.

He should know that there are a good amount of educated people on this blog that are his equals...and plenty of other people that are eager to learn about and enjoy looking at weather. Maybe a break away would be good. Who knows.

As far as this "pumping the ridge phenomena"...

For very large storms like Igor, the models probably resolve a great deal of the subsidence and associated warming of the upper troposphere that is occurring on the periphery of the storm.

Even though Igor by hurricane standards is enormous (particularly for the North Atlantic), it's scale compared to mid-latitude trough/ridges is small. It might have a small additional effect that is not captured by the model...but ultimately they've done a pretty good job this season (at year end I bet they'll have preformed better than years past).
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2305. leo305
Quoting leo305:
I just feel that I need to say, that not everyone is a MET in study, some are well with the subject some aren't, and if someone doesn't know what something means, or don't understand something correctly, it's not wise to say "Your stupid, your not worth my time" because that shows you aren't here to help others keep informed, but here to mock and discuss. Earlier when I was here, a couple months back I recall people saying this was a blog for people to learn and discuss, not to see who's smarter/better than the other. Clearly things change.

Especially considering some are older men who offend some kids interested in the subject and likely de rail their interest in learning the subject..

that's all..

sorry for posting this off topic message, but I hope some of you or most of you read it.

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Quoting angiest:

Surface charts impact how the winds fill his sails.

one more question.for you experts..when have you seen a hurricane move into a surface high pressure and what happened if it got forced into one..
Surface pressure might not steer it but it will dictate where it can't go..
and I looked at the upper level charts to and the 500MB high over the Virgins dissolves but I'll let you experts not dig up those charts
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Storm
After all your experience and the time spent posting here, you know that the trolls must be ignored. Let them post whatever they want, and if they atack you, ignore them. You know your staff and you should not have to defend your posts. I'll leave you with this... "Nobody can control my life without my permission" Keep on Posting!
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Isn't this an internet blog or am i mistaken? you could be talking to any yahoo in the entire world, why take anything at all personally?
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Kewl. RSO QuickTime movie for yesterday: http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/100914_g15_igor_vis.mov
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Storm, you have mail.

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StormW, respectfully I would ask you to reconsider, and for one reason alone. If you leave, morons win. Just that simple. If you wish to grant their tiny minds their tiny victories, then go with God, and good luck to you.

Andrew.
Member Since: August 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 312
Quoting sailingallover:

The surface charts for the 12 and 13 as Igor moves along the ridge notice the 12MB line moves from south of Igor up to 25N and the 1016 lines move from west of 50W to East of 50W
The was no ridge pumping going on
at lower levels and there was an upper high over us that disappeared the night he turned

http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/Loops/atlsfcf00/image14.gif
http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/Loops/atlsfcf00/image09.gif


Tell me again how surface features have an impact on a Category 4 Hurricane?

I must have missed it the first time I asked you
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2294. angiest

Quoting reedzone:
With Igors size, maybe he could bust the trough.. It's possible, look at Isabel in 2003. More likely to recurve but just adding in the smallest possibilities.
I would make a snarky comment about that being impossible because strong storms only move north, but then, apparently people wouldn't recognize the point.
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2293. MZT
If you REALLY want to see some out of control forums, visit the Yahoo or Craigslist forums. The noise-to-signal ratio is so high they are nearly useless, unless you're willing to manage "ignore user" lists in the hundreds of names....
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Didn't you say an hour and a half ago that you were done with this place because of comments just like this? C'mon, make a choice. Leave the main blog and avoid the same that you dish out, or stay and continue offering your appreciated comments, even if you are ornery.
.
.
This business about pumping the ridge. If you want a referendum on the issue, I'll go with "maybe". I don't know enough to debate the notion one way or the other. I fully respect your right to express your opinion.
.
C'mon. Let us get on with weather talk and end the drama. Go...or stay. Just let us know so we can get on with the weather with you or without you. Be responsible as you are the adult and looked up to by our youth. It's been over 90 minutes that you've held the blog hostage to the drama.


I guess anytime you have ever chosen to move somwhere you left that minute and never said goodbye to your friends.

StormW is just saying his goodbyes
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Weird. Last link was a direct link to the pic below hosted on a sattelite site and the image changed to a 12 hour old pic. I can't explain why. I have screen shotted it and put it on my hosting site so we dont' have that problem. Previous explanation follows:
Eyewall reforming...you can see where its going to end up in this pic:



Nice big eye. Plenty of room for it to contract and pick up speed. Note the new eye will be completely surrounded by extremely cold tops.
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OK folks, have a...
CHUCKLE
Good, now don't you feel bettah? :-)

Hopefully, the night shift show up soon, and bring coffee and a touch of common sense.
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With Igors size, maybe he could bust the trough.. It's possible, look at Isabel in 2003. More likely to recurve but just adding in the smallest possibilities.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
2287. pottery
Quoting dracko19:
Eyewall reforming. You can see where its going to end up here:



Nice big eye. Plenty of room for it to contract and pick up speed. Note the new eye will be completely surrounded by extremely cold tops.

Based on that image, Igor has dropped south a good bit from 3 hrs ago ???
He was centered at 20.1N earlier.
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Quoting btwntx08:
2230. MississippiWx 3:05 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
I seem to recall a couple of months ago that sailingallover was making statements how this season would be a bust and would not pick up in activity to the levels the experts believed. He said it was due to all of the dry air and shear. All the while, StormW was preaching the facts and stating how people were just being impatient.

To tell you the truth, I really haven't seen any times this season where Storm has been incorrect. Igor has gone further west than models initially believed and has gone just as far west as Storm believed. He preached this during Earl as well. Some of you are biting off more than you can chew when you attack him. If you spend as much time researching tropical weather and making as many forecasts as he does, then fine. Maybe you have your argument. Otherwise, BACK OFF before you run off this site's best blogger.

+100
"DITTO" Very well said!!
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.