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 angiest:

That fund of dubious legality absolves BP of their legal responsibility?


Nope...they (BP and Ken Feinberg) just hope to scare away the majority of claimants...in reality all still retain their legal rights against BP and the makers of COREXIT..
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Hey New movie idea,

Igor Vs Tsunami

Who will win? Would the tsunami try to slip the rug out from under Igor or would Igor just swallow the tsunami and become a supercane. lol I am so bored here.
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1931. surfmom
Quoting SiestaCpl:


Yes and caused the wife to have three weeks of menstrual bleeding after she was exposed...that is our best guess as she is otherwise in perfect health and no other medical reason was found. For myself I suffered extreme joint pain for nearly a week afterward and refusing to believe the waters we were in could be still toxic I went out again...and had the same results.
Just me being my stubborn Indian self... sigh...
**sigh**
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Quoting StormW:
Pottery, mail.
Hey Storm W check out my post 1911 and tell me how wrong i am
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1924. klew136
Quoting klew136:


Can I still get your updates

that was for StormW
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Quoting angiest:

The presence of pollutants such as that implies some third party is liable.  I would think they have the financial responsibility.

ROFLMAO we're talking BP, remember, good luck getting anything from them.

(this was not directed at you personally)
You are right, but, as a few here can attest to, BP is very good at giving everyone the run around. They seem to have real problem not losing papers people have filed, or changing the rules, again.
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1921. angiest

Quoting SiestaCpl:


That would be the BP $29 Billion fund...but Ken Feinberg has "tentatively ruled against any such payments based on a storm action as those would an act of god." A quote from him in an inter office memo last month.
That fund of dubious legality absolves BP of their legal responsibility?
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1920. bird72
Quoting StormW:
Good evening all!

For those who wish to follow my forecasts further, please email me at kainawalsh@yahoo.com

It is my intention to leave this zoo, and close my account


Shiat! Is really sad to hear that, I'm new here and you give me the most valuable information I ever hear from someone about meteorology, you teach me more things in few days than all the TV meteorologist I see in all my life(I'm a hurricane freak after Hurricane David, I was 8 years old then)I write a hot letter to Dr. Master about the blog situation but I think he don't give a damn about it. So is their prestige that is going to suffer not mine. I'm in another meteorology forum so I'm going to migrate also. Wish you success in all your business, take care. I''m going to e-mail you.
Member Since: August 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 389
1919. PBFL77
Quoting StormW:
Good evening all!

For those who wish to follow my forecasts further, please email me at kainawalsh@yahoo.com

It is my intention to leave this zoo, and close my account


Long time lurker, almost never post, I for one will be sad if you did decide to leave. But I can understand, I have stopped even reading with the exception of your posts and a few others... I will be happy to send an email in order to get your forcasts and insights.
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1917. klew136
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Food for serious thought, Senior Chief.


Can I still get your updates
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xtorm is leaving?.No! please stay.Becuase some of the other experts are arrogant.Please stay!
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Quoting angiest:

The presence of pollutants such as that implies some third party is liable.  I would think they have the financial responsibility.


That would be the BP $29 Billion fund...but Ken Feinberg has "tentatively ruled against any such payments based on a storm action as those would an act of god." A quote from him in an inter office memo last month.
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Quoting PcolaDan:


No reason to disagree with them.

All current tracks have good reasoning and synoptic features to support them. I can't foresee any surprises other than late in the period if Igor and Julia get to close and start to interact.
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1912. surfmom
1878 - True, True Nole!! I have a special UV light (used by mechanics to spot oil) to keep a check on my beaches (if there is oil, htere is dispersant) - my fear is the slow train wreck of an the Gulf eco system... how much toxic yuk does it take to tip the scales....
Alfabob -- you didn't ruin my day - BP RUINED a huge section of the Gomex -- you just want people to know the truth
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Look at this visible loop on the upper right side and tell me what you see the lower clouds doing . Link It looks like Julia is pushing Igor to the south West wich is also visible on the visible you can see thath Igor acually moved a little south of west Also if you look on the rain bow loop you will see Julia is shearing Igor Fujiwara afect
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Quoting surfmom:


Thx, I need to know this information -- but it makes me soooo :* (
dispersant acts as a solvent not only with oil, but with red blood cells --thus the sores on the fish.


Yes and caused the wife to have three weeks of menstrual bleeding after she was exposed...that is our best guess as she is otherwise in perfect health and no other medical reason was found. For myself I suffered extreme joint pain for nearly a week afterward and refusing to believe the waters we were in could be still toxic I went out again...and had the same results.
Just me being my stubborn Indian self... sigh...
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1908. centex
EWRC
Member Since: August 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3293
1907. calder
Quoting liljade:
I have a question and please don't beat me up for it.LOL Is Igor moving due west again?


nope WNW with tight model consensus for the NW turn. Very unlikely that he will be US/Canada threat, only bermuda.
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Quoting notverylikely:


If I just had a nickel for every time I've herd that


That can't be good for your confidence.
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1904. angiest

Quoting SiestaCpl:


You are exactly correct..Citizens Insurance in FL and Nationwide the two largest insurers of the region have explicit language to exempt any "pollutants" such as oil being blown onto or into properties...no coverage at all  for a hazmat situation...
The presence of pollutants such as that implies some third party is liable.  I would think they have the financial responsibility.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting angiest:

No worries. :) Although I don't practice, my degree is in geophysics so tsunami are definitely an area of interest for me.
I'm not so good in the tornado area as well.
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1902. xcool
MiamiHurricanes .yep like zoo in here.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1901. liljade
I have a question and please don't beat me up for it.LOL Is Igor moving due west again?
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1900. help4u
Bye Storm W wish you the best in life!
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Quoting Nolehead:
yes surfmom, been taking plenty of pics myself...it's very scary to even think of what can or could happen...been working the logistics part and have been talking with a bunch of people...the coast guard, that when the despersants started washing ashore they had no idea what the crap was...but we did cause we did our homework and found alot on line...pretty incrediable what you find if you just dig hard enough...lol....just get ready folks if a storm does sling oil everywhere...cause guess what?? there is no insurance for wind blown oil....even the wind coverage...pull out your papers and see for yourself...i'm just saying it's going to be bad folks...


You are exactly correct..Citizens Insurance in FL and Nationwide the two largest insurers of the region have explicit language to exempt any "pollutants" such as oil being blown onto or into properties...no coverage at all for a hazmat situation...
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1895. hydrus
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:



I like dry air.....
Igor is an ocean sucking machine...He will turn dry into wet air by the giga-ton...:)
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1894. xcool
AL, 11, 2010091600, , BEST, 0, 200N, 561W, 115, 942, HU
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1893. surfmom
Quoting SiestaCpl:
We have had oil clots, small bb sized oil spots by the millions..literally washing up from Pensacola to Miramar Beach. Nothing dangerous but a sign that the oil is out there in tiny dispersant made mini balls. Then for the last three days a huge BP licensed clean up vessel and its tenders have been scooping and burning large sized oil mats and slicks less than a 1/4 mile from the public beach on Okaloosa Island. There have been dean large fish coming on shore as well with sores and missing scales across most of their bodies. Then in the inlets of AL and LA there have been sporadic fish kills this month wiht a huge one in LA this week.


Thx, I need to know this information -- but it makes me soooo :* (
dispersant acts as a solvent not only with oil, but with red blood cells --thus the sores on the fish.
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1892. angiest

Quoting 850Realtor:
Just heard on the radio it's been 100+ years since two category 4 storms have been lined up in the Atlantic. Is that true?
Read the blog entry in which you are commenting.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1890. pottery
Quoting hydrus:
Wuzup Pott?...I guess you took your rain back. It is dry here now. Could have the rough stuff here tomorrow though...

Doin' Good!
Hot, Sweaty, Muddy, Bush is Growing, everything is just fine. LOL
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Quoting cheaterwon:
What is the more up to date IR satellite view Weather underground are NOAA?

I'm pretty sure it is all automated direct live feed from NESDIS so neither
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Igor is heading SE....going to hook up with Julia .LOL
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Just heard on the radio it's been 100+ years since two category 4 storms have been lined up in the Atlantic. Is that true?
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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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