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

Share this Blog
5
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 2286 - 2236

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66Blog Index

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!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Surface charts only shows where surface lows and surface troughs and surface highs and cold fronts are located. These systems at the surface have no effect, or a very minimal effect on a hurricane of Igor's intensity, which is effected most by the 200-700mb levels.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Atmo...here you go:

Hi StormW,

Not sure I'll find time to discuss this, but here are some possibly helpful studies:

An interesting study of this problem was performed by Ross and Kurihara (MWR, 1995)
for Hurricane Gloria. They ran the GFDL model with and without the hurricane
included and looked at the differences in the model fields. The differences were
pretty large and spread far from the storm, especially in the upper levels. This
paper provides some evidence for the influence of a hurricane on its environment.

Bob Merrill (1984) did an observational comparison of small and large storms.

There are cases such as Georges (1998) where the mid- tropospheric ridging north of
the TC is relatively weak, yet the TC maintains a general westward heading for some
time. Another example might be Hurricane Donna (1960), when forecasters remarked
out at the long westerly track of the TC even though there were westerly winds at
mid- to upper-levels ahead of it over the Florida peninsula.

A June 2009 JAS study, based on idealized simulations might be of interest:

http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/~fovell/fovell-corbosiero-kuo-2009.pdf

Jeff


Thanks.

And what do you think about the Karl-Kurve chances?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting caneswatch:


Storm, ignore the guy already. You never made a mistake, and he thinks you did and he attacks you like it's causing the end of the world.

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
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
well night bloggers, we shall see what tomorrow brings with Igor , hopefully our friends in bermuda get some good news and soon, i still have a gut feeling that Igor may have another chance at intensifying a bit more though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2281. 7544
h,,,mmm igor still below 20 was this in the cards or should was he supposed to be further north by now tia
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


I'll see if I have them still.
Alright. If more than 15 minutes from now, would WUmail them?

Been a nice chat.

EDIT: Ah, there they are.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting dracko19:


WTH??? That's not the image I posted!! Crimeanetly.

One sec. I'll tweak the link in a new post...


Yeah, something is wrong with the satellites from NOAA. They have been behind all day. If you refresh them, the real up-to-date image will come up.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:



....you got caught by that very old image.... 13:45 GMT


WTH??? That's not the image I posted!! Crimeanetly.

One sec. I'll tweak the link in a new post...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
Hmmm, looks like a trof-grab.



Gonna have to look further into that...
Seems as though this is possible, but not likely over water. Karl would have slow considerably, or the front speed up a bunch, for this to play out that way.

But, will be looking for ECMWF to give UKMET some support in the AM. Still doesn't seem likely, though.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2272. Grothar
Think the blog will ever look like this again? I was in fire-fights with less action. Enjoy the link!

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
StormW; do you think the wave coming off Africa will become an invest soon?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting PSUweathermet:
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/loop_srso.asp?data_folder=goes-r_proving_ground/g15_ srso_ir&width=600&height=600

A little too close to comfort for those northern islands? Should see some great cloud shots as the sun rises tomorrow morning





That is just scary close. The islands look like ants next to that monster.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
2268. FLDART1
Quoting Orcasystems:


OK, I was not having a problem with your little banter... you have made your point.

Now I suggest you just drop it... and FOCUS
Love the FOCUS Orca...lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2267. Ryuujin
I would like to say that it would be a crime for StormW to leave this blog.

In my time here I have learned so much from him, Levi and others.

Btw, when is Igor going to make his north turn? Is Bermuda still fully in the crosshairs?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Man, two hours out from my PC and trying to catch up with the blog.... What did I find new??? Igor seems to keep in love with the west.... Models failing??? Think I'm gonna have pump the ridge of my computer....
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Quoting Hurricanes101:
Awwww look the trolls agree with each other

maybe they should form a club, not talk about weather and just insult each other all the time
With respect, they form they're own group of yes men/women. These souls then use their self-propagated sense of worth to attack outsiders, who disagree with one or more of the group's opinions. Their club always has to win. Kind of like a troupe of monkeys, who feel they must dominate or be conquered.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
I see Igor remains on a WEST-NORTHWEST coarse, and the size of Floyd (1999)
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
2257. angiest

Quoting Hurricanes101:


but wouldn't Igor be steered by the upper levels and not surface features since he is that strong?
sarcasm....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sailingallover:

I so wish I was still getting the automated HF weather faxes to post the surface analysis showing the ridge retreating as igor moved west.
Still the same ones you used to get every 6 hours when you were in the CG and paid attention to them.


OK, I was not having a problem with your little banter... you have made your point.

Now I suggest you just drop it... and FOCUS
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting angiest:

Surface charts impact how the winds fill his sails.


but wouldn't Igor be steered by the upper levels and not surface features since he is that strong?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting PSUweathermet:
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/loop_srso.asp?data_folder=goes-r_proving_ground/g15_ srso_ir&width=600&height=600

A little too close to comfort for those northern islands? Should see some great cloud shots as the sun rises tomorrow morning

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Uhhh, I think I will abstain from posting in here for right now.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2250. angiest

Quoting Hurricanes101:


Why would the SURFACE analysis of a ridge prove anything when you are dealing with a Category 4 Hurricane?
Surface charts impact how the winds fill his sails.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.



....you got caught by that very old image.... 13:45 GMT
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2248. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/loop_srso.asp?data_folder=goes-r_proving_ground/g15_ srso_ir&width=600&height=600

A little too close to comfort for those northern islands? Should see some great cloud shots as the sun rises tomorrow morning
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sailingallover:

I so wish I was still getting the automated HF weather faxes to post the surface analysis showing the ridge retreating as igor moved west.
Still the same ones you used to get every 6 hours when you were in the CG and paid attention to them.


Why would the SURFACE analysis of a ridge prove anything when you are dealing with a Category 4 Hurricane?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


And Igor still pumped the ridge.
Hey, can you post those references Dr. M sent you on that again? (Not being sarcastic, really, want to look.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm not a met so maybe I'm just ignorant... But can someone explain the term "pump the ridge" for me? I've never heard this term before and it has me thoroughly confused. TIA to anyone willing to help.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.


Igor still looking really good right now, still waiting on that turn
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Oh....done pretty good so far.


Storm, ignore the guy already. You never made a mistake, and he thinks you did and he attacks you like it's causing the end of the world.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:
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.

+1
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

it is truly amazing huh
they are so smart they are stupid

on a weather note
it was released today that we have had the hottest and longest summer since records began in southern ontario and early winter forecasts are indicating long cold winter with an above normal snowfall for grt lakes region snow may start as early as last week of oct first week of november


They are already calling for possible snow in Calgary :) Thats almost as good as snow in Toronto :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 2286 - 2236

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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

Local Weather

Overcast
47 °F
Overcast

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron