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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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?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1885. angiest

Quoting AstroHurricane001:
As a result of this RICH TEXT trojan easter egg, I can no longer quote comments.

#1841:
Atlantic is still very warm, especially the Central North Atlantic. Unfortunately a glitch has rendered all tropical cyclones invisible.

#1848:
At one point, prior to entering 29C+ waters, Igor had a rating of 1 on the annular scale. 0 is non-annular, 1 is marginal, and 100 is annular. Storms typically need SSTs from 25.4C to 28.5C to be annular.

#1849:
Wow! Karl looks like it's developing an eye even before it even makes contact with water in the BoC! I think a cat. 2 landfall is possible in Veracruz.
Try clicking either the plain text or rich test link to change  the input mode.  Or use firefox or chrome.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766



I like dry air.....
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5999
Quoting deepee:
would someone bring me up to date and tell me what the consensus is right now on the track of Karl?

is everyone agreeing with the NHC?


No reason to disagree with them.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
As for EYEgor as of 1:20 UTC his movement is 270 degrees....and his "eye-gor-wall" is not quite complete..RAMSDIS GOES-15 Sat
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
As a result of this RICH TEXT trojan easter egg, I can no longer quote comments.

#1841:
Atlantic is still very warm, especially the Central North Atlantic. Unfortunately a glitch has rendered all tropical cyclones invisible.

#1848:
At one point, prior to entering 29C+ waters, Igor had a rating of 1 on the annular scale. 0 is non-annular, 1 is marginal, and 100 is annular. Storms typically need SSTs from 25.4C to 28.5C to be annular.

#1849:
Wow! Karl looks like it's developing an eye even before it even makes contact with water in the BoC! I think a cat. 2 landfall is possible in Veracruz.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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...
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1877. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15626
1875. calder
Quoting angiest:

He has, however, been analyzed as marginally annular on more than one occasion.  


true, but that classification only exists because of the limited understanding of annular hurricanes and how/why they form as such. There's too much annular/fujiwara that gets batted about this blog (perhaps as both phenomena are in keeping with hurricanes taking unforseen tracks?)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1874. angiest

Quoting F4PHANTOM:
From NWS Houston;

MEDIUM RANGE MODELS STILL SHOWING A VISITOR IN THE CARIBBEAN ON
DAY 10 (SAT 25TH). ECMWF & GFS SHOWING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT UPPER
LEVEL PATTERN AT THAT TIME (ECMWF A DESERT SW RIDGE & ERN
TROF...GFS AN ERN RIDGE AND WRN TROF). 47
I love whoever writes our discussions.  Too bad they don't put the names in. (at least that I have ever seen)
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1871. hydrus
Quoting Tazmanian:
  •  this will not be a fish
  • Igore  may hit land
  • more name storms too follow
  • we could see the W storm 
  • this year is a bust NOT
lol...It seems like yesterday people here were waiting for the "C" storm...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1869. DDR
Quoting pottery:

None today! It passed north and south of here.
2.75" yesterday, most of it in one Mega-Shower that had no drops. Just a zillion faucets on full blast for 30 mins...
Good thing I have a 4wd, or I would have been stuck coming home.

Hmmmm...nice
no significant rains here since Sunday
I got a bad feeling about next week,you know why.
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1868. angiest

Quoting washingtonian115:
Okay so maybe my tsunami information maybe a little crusty. No that was great!!!!.Plus 100 on that one.
No worries. :) Although I don't practice, my degree is in geophysics so tsunami are definitely an area of interest for me.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1867. surfmom
Quoting SiestaCpl:


Hi Surf Mom! The wife and I are up in Ft. Walton Beach for a few months trying to get people paid from the BP money...Hows the water on our beach back home?
we've been protected by the shelf & currents --THUS far. A Cane could change things & bring OIL on our shores - so far we're good. The Gulf is going to need nurseries to replenish and heal - I hope we will be one of those safe havens...but as you know - like the lesson of DDT - it's a long journey back once the land & her creatures have been poisoned
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1865. hydrus
Quoting pottery:

heheheh
Wuzup Pott?...I guess you took your rain back. It is dry here now. Could have the rough stuff here tomorrow though...
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1864. angiest
Is the tpc ftp site down?
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting angiest:

I missed the original comment, but tsunami waves travel at hundreds of miles an hour in the open ocean, and slow down greatly when they reach shallow water:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsunami#Characteristics


While everyday wind waves have a wavelength (from crest to crest) of about 100 metres (330 ft) and a height of roughly 2 metres (6.6 ft), a tsunami in the deep ocean has a wavelength of about 200 kilometres (120 mi). Such a wave travels at well over 800 kilometres per hour (500 mph), but due to the enormous wavelength the wave oscillation at any given point takes 20 or 30 minutes to complete a cycle and has an amplitude of only about 1 metre (3.3 ft).[15] This makes tsunamis difficult to detect over deep water. Ships rarely notice their passage.
Okay so maybe my tsunami information maybe a little crusty.
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.

No that was great!!!!.Plus 100 on that one.
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1860. bird72
Quoting angiest:

I haven't seen him move much in the last few hours.

Exactly, and the only little move he is doing is to the west, see how the outer bands at Igor west side approach to the leeward Islands.
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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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
  •  this will not be a fish
  • Igore  may hit land
  • more name storms too follow
  • we could see the W storm 
  • this year is a bust NOT
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114791
1857. angiest

Quoting calder:


Igor has never been annular!
He has, however, been analyzed as marginally annular on more than one occasion.  
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting KYDan:


I believe that radar station has been off line for a while. Did you notice the date stamp of May 27th at the top left of the image?


Yea, I did notice it, but thought is was funny. And after a half hour of staring at it, I didn't care anyway. ;>)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1855. pottery
Quoting DDR:
Hi pottery
How much rain have you measured over the last 2 days?
Heard about some flooding yesterday down in your area

None today! It passed north and south of here.
2.75" yesterday, most of it in one Mega-Shower that had no drops. Just a zillion faucets on full blast for 30 mins...
Good thing I have a 4wd, or I would have been stuck coming home.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Th eother night we were having a discussion on a Hurricanes natural tendency to move Northward due to the Coriolis effect. While looking for the formulas to actually calculate it(long time since my college physics/dynamics course I ran across this
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/index_carib.shtml
which gives a very good description of the mathematics of the coriolis effect along with the equations.
I'll have to figure out the best way to solve the equations for a hurricane based on wind speed and latitude span to calculate the total northward force on the storm although I am sure it has been done I can't find it
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Quoting JRRP:

lol nothing's out there.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5657
1852. surfmom
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...


Wow - you worked (((clean-up))) thank you!, my son worked EMT on a Ship out there. I so know of what you speak...he brought home pics, so I'm VERY concerned in regards to 'Canes, the oil didn't just go to Heaven or totally evaporate -- scared & worried because --who can we trust?
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1851. JLPR2
Quoting JRRP:


Awesome avatar! Sunset eclipse?
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8534
Karl:
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1848. calder
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
Igor looks like it is weakening, expanding again, and its eye is shrinking along with Julia's. Any slowing in the motion of Igor spells trouble, as this could set up the conditions for more intensification and possible re-annularization.

I wish I could get rid of this unknown rich text feature!


Igor has never been annular!
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Quoting deepee:
would someone bring me up to date and tell me what the consensus is right now on the track of Karl?

is everyone agreeing with the NHC?




Its going to Mexico the end
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 578
1845. angiest

Quoting pottery:

The point is...
Very large waves are Very Destructive.
Does not matter, in this context..........
I missed the original comment. :)
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
What is the more up to date IR satellite view Weather underground are NOAA?
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1842. deepee
would someone bring me up to date and tell me what the consensus is right now on the track of Karl?

is everyone agreeing with the NHC?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1841. JRRP
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1840. leo305
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
Igor looks like it is weakening, expanding again, and its eye is shrinking along with Julia's. Any slowing in the motion of Igor spells trouble, as this could set up the conditions for more intensification and possible re-annularization.

I wish I could get rid of this unknown rich text feature!


yes igor is becoming larger in size, and is undergoing an eye wall re construction cycle, the eye looks to be much larger than it was before:

http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/htdocs_dyn/tc_pages/thumbnails/thumbs/tc10/ATL/11L.IGOR/tc_ssmis/91h/2de greeticks/thumb/20100915.2202.f16.x.91h.11LIGOR.115kts-942mb-198N-552W.81pc.jpg
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Quoting SirCane:
Is it just me or is Igor moving West AGAIN?


I'm seeing the same thing so you are not the only one.
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Wind in my hair........shifting and drifting......mechanical music........
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 578
1837. bird72
Quoting heretolearninPR:


So many think that all these islands are uninhabited.


Yeah, public education sucks lately....
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Quoting pottery:

The point is...
Very large waves are Very Destructive.
Does not matter, in this context..........
Exactly.
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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.