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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Quoting StormW:


Post 2065 my friend
Yeah, I saw that. And it makes some sense.
To say it happens regularly and/or with enough relative strength to really overcome beta, I think we haven't the data.
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I would be happy to donate $10 to Portlight or some other recovey group to comment on this blog.
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Quoting TexasGulf:


Oh, OK. As long as Igor is only a threat to Bermuda, then its of no major consequence. :>)

Sorry I couldn't resist, you sir/madam are a twit. 64,200 People do live in Bermuda If Hurricane Igor makes a Direct hit 64,200 people WILL be affected. No Major Consequence. I think not.
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First Time poster here, But I have been reading this blog every day during hurricane season for the Past 6 years. I live in Zachary La , just north of Baton Rouge, and I just want to say STORM W, Levi, Ike, Tamps & others have proven to me they know what they are doing, do give thrn a break, Its haed to prodict the Future, I wish I could. You people that are saying that stormW or others dont know whats up, LOOK AT THERE EXPERIENCE, and then you make the call
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2079. jpsb
Quoting angiest:

But, but, lookit all the cat4/5 storms that moved north at that strength! I mean, Gilbert, and, and Betsey, and Ike, and Ivan, and Katrina and Rita and and....
Hurricane Allen was where I first learned of the "ridge pumping" effect of very large powerful hurincanes. A better term would be ridge reenforcement, it (ridge pumping) just make the high north of the storm a little higher. The effect can not fight off a deep low, it can only make the high a little taller. Storm can explain better.
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Quoting futuremet:
StormW and Levi are right about strong tropical cyclones "pumping" up ridges and weaken the merdional flow of troughs

How Tropical Cyclones Weaken a Trough's Meridional Flow

Hurricanes are heat machines and release enormous increments of heat into the upper airs. Upper levels and troughs are cold core cyclones. When an intense tropical cyclone is nearby it releases sufficient heat in the upper air weaken the amplification of upper level troughs. The affected trough will then flow more zonally. Since the trough has been eroded, more ridging will start to take place.



If the trough is very strong, it can still send the storm out to sea (Hurricane Bill, 2009).
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
2076. angiest

Quoting StormW:


What do you think kept pushing Igor west for 2 days after he was "supposed" to begin his "turn" at around 45-47W? Why do you think he got further west than originally forecast?
I have heard all my life that strong storms can influence their environment and, by extension, their steering.  Is it pumping the ridge specifically? I don't know.  I do know that, like Earl, Igor strayed further west than forecast.  I know the steering setup certainly did not allow much of a northerly component when he was supposed to start the turn, and indeed he moved WSW for awhile.
Quoting atmoaggie:
If the lack of ridging poleward of them allows it...
Exactly! But to hear some people, its the gospel truth  After Ike, I can't believe people still cling to that.
Off the top of my head, I can't think of many northward moving cat5s. There probably have been some, of course.
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Quoting StormW:


How do you think those steering winds were strengthened, especially as close as the trof was?
I don't *think* they were. But, without good upper air data, who knows?
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Quoting futuremet:
StormW and Levi are right about strong tropical cyclones "pumping" up ridges and weaken the merdional flow of troughs

How Tropical Cyclones Weaken a Trough's Meridional Flow

Hurricanes are heat machines and release enormous increments of heat into the upper airs. Upper levels and troughs are cold core cyclones. When an intense tropical cyclone is nearby it releases sufficient heat in the upper air weaken the amplification of upper level troughs. The affected trough will then flow more zonally. Since the trough has been eroded, more ridging will start to take place.



Crap, I've been here too long. I actually understood that. :)
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Dude..just checked in and read this last page...hoping to get info on Karl...I see that's not going to happen...I'm so tired of people getting their panties in a bunch over one or two posts! I've been around a while, and this is ridiculous. OUT!
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StormW and Levi are right about strong tropical cyclones "pumping" up ridges and weaken the merdional flow of troughs

How Tropical Cyclones Weaken a Trough's Meridional Flow

Hurricanes are heat machines and release enormous increments of heat into the upper airs. Upper levels and troughs are cold core cyclones. When an intense tropical cyclone is nearby it releases sufficient heat in the upper air weaken the amplification of upper level troughs. The affected trough will then flow more zonally. Since the trough has been eroded, more ridging will start to take place.

Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
2064. LTLROX
Quoting angiest:

Dunno, but, I mean, all we hear is that strong storms go poleward, so they obviously were moving north at peak strength.
Quoting angiest:

Dunno, but, I mean, all we hear is that strong storms go poleward, so they obviously were moving north at peak strength.


Living on a rotating sphere as we and even hurricanes do leads to some very difficult physics. Part of this is due to the large size of hurricanes with part of it moving west, and another part of it moving east. Even more complex is the area of fluid dynamics. Forces created by both of these must be considered.

One may be able to reduce the science to visuals and experience, but it is the physics that always rules.

Yes, I do have a degree in physics, but only a single course in weather systems.
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The EWRC should be complete by 2am EDT...or sooner.



Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting StormW:


What do you think kept pushing Igor west for 2 days after he was "supposed" to begin his "turn" at around 45-47W? Why do you think he got further west than originally forecast?
could probably throw Andrew as support for your theory/discussion
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Quoting StormW:


Geez, he looks really good!

Specially for a small TS crossing through a wide area of land. He's lucky he moved fast.
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Quoting anyotherliestotell:
great comment! that adds SO much to the blog. people getting all huffy and posting that someon else is a troll or no good constitutes at least HALF of the useless posts. like this one.


You are one of the trolls!
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2054. vince1
Quoting Nolehead:
thanks for speaking the truth - check out ESMagazine Sept issue - wrote a piece in there - I'm very concerned what canes & even storms will do - will they bring up the oil that's coating the bottom of the Gulf - do we get re-polluted w/OIL & dispersants (shelflife 6 years) every time? Lots of questions -

i've been helping on the cleanup since the beginning, and i can sure tell you that there is alot going on that the local public has no idea about...all it's going to take is 1 good storm. not big but a good size one and all hell will break loose...if a storm like the 1 the GFS is talking about at teh end of this month will make Katrina look like a thunderstorm sue to the oil and despersants...check out COREXIT people...it's some bad stuff and everyone along the coast line has been breathing this stuff since the spill...not too mention that 70% of the people from the Valdez is dead...and this is oh what 10 times bigger?? just wait...BP thinks they are done...boy are they going to be in for a shock...

Bravo, this bears repeating. Let's not forget that our US. Govt. allowed BP to get away with unleashing 2 million gallons minimum in the Gulf. I don't care if this is slightly OT...it's important for the safety of any of us near the Gulf (I'm only 400 miles and I am concerned about what a storm coming through the Deepwater Horizon area will bring my way).
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Quoting david276:
oh god any mods listening it would take maybe three hours for someone to implement a new forum type software. It would allow the control of the "trolls" to be easy. You can edit them now to even block out post from users with low post counts.. a suggestion that is free and easy.
Yet, the tools here do make it pretty easy to completely block out the worst. A bad post, even directed at yourself, doesn't require a return serve if all it deserved was a poof.
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2049. docrod
Quoting extreme236:


All this points to quick intensification over the BOC.


That's amazing, Karl is still over land

Link
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This blog can't handle 2 category 4 storms.

It's a shame, StormW I have read your posts for a while, mainly because I knew I could trust it above all the other garble. You will be missed if you leave.

Blog should be paid only, maybe even extra. I'd fork it out
All can read, pay to post.
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Quoting StormW:


What do you think kept pushing Igor west for 2 days after he was "supposed" to begin his "turn" at around 45-47W? Why do you think he got further west than originally forecast?
NE steering winds strong enough to overcome the N component of beta effect. Will it last? I don't think so.



And the trochoidal oscillations moving his center around, not sure what effect that would have, though.
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Dr MASTERS should scrap the BLOG, start all over and restict it to financiak members. the free for all has damaged the civility of this blog
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
AL, 13, 2010091600, , BEST, 0, 192N, 901W, 35, 1000, TS

Good structure, hints of a eye and a eyewall. Center about to emerge.

A few miles to go...
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Another lurker here...

Sorry to see you go, StormW. Along with many others here, I've enjoyed and benefitted from your experience and expertise ever since joining WU during Hurricane Ike in '08. There are only a handful of folks here whose tropical and forecasting knowledge I hold in high regard. You are definitely on that short list.
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Quoting raggpr:
Leaving the blog will only allow them to win. The gran mayority here appreciate StormW magnificant work. So i tell you people, please dont leave and remember this blog is ours. We have been sharing info for years, I personally consider you people as my weather family and StormW you are like my teacher (the best one)


Amen to that!! Please don't leave!
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Quoting miliohara:
Lurker for about 3 years and not much posting I have to say that this blog will lose someone very special with your insight Storm. Out of everyone on the blog I have to say that Storm and Levi by far are the ones I look forward to hearing from. I will be sad to see you leave and I understand. This year has become crazy.

Ditto StormW. You'll be missed
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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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