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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3186. scott39
p451- Kool Loop
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Karls eye went right over us this morning @430 CST...max sustained winds of 65kts for about 30-40 minutes...sideways rain...getting stronger...NHC was VERY conservative on this one, as it has been this year.Will give more info later.
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3184. CalTex
Long-time lurker, recent commenter here. Could someone please explain the meaning of the different colors in the steering maps? I'd like to be sure what I'm looking for. Thanks.
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3183. hydrus
Good post Pott....
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Quoting futuremet:
Wunderground receives a lot of traffic and has a solid Google Page Rank status. I am sure that most, if not all forecasters visit Wunderground. NHC professional forecasters probably visit the Wunderblog, but they do not post here. Why? It would ruin their credibility and reputation. Wasting time in futile blabber and debates with dogmatic individuals and trolls really reduces your productivity and credibility.


Excellent point as usual Futuremet. It is getting difficult to sift out decent data here for the hobbyist(as SJ correctly called what most of us are in here). I just want to read about debates on track and intensity, not this bickering and BS. This comment is not directed at the regulars who have somehow kept a good focus this week....Newbies, Kids, Trolls....Shut up and read for a bit, maybe you will learn something. Maybe. There are 3 major storms right now, plenty to focus on. If you can't focus on that, you should not be posting. Yes we are hobbyists, but for most of us, this is not a game when a storm could possibly affect you/family/friends life and property.

My apologies to all respected bloggers for the rant. This is my favorite site on the web. My wife has to yell at me to get a way from here, yet I only have 40 or less posts, and have read here for over 4 years. Think before you speak! IF you can't ADD valuable knowledge (or timely GOODNATURED Humor) to the mix, don't post it....you are wasting space.

NOW I'm done wasting space.

Over and Out.
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3181. Patrap
GOM IR loop

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Igor is going down hill in a hurry it looks like to me...

Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1514
Quoting pottery:
Good Morning all.
This Blog is a valuable, informative place to find Real Time weather information.
This Blog is a place to find Good Information, Explanations, and Forecasts on current weather patterns and systems.
This Blog is frequented by all manner of people, from rank amateurs like me, to Specialists in the Science of Meteorology.

I cannot for the life of me understand why it is, that people here get so completely Frazzled and Worked-up, when the occasional post is critical of them, off topic, humourous or sarcastic.

Do we expect ONLY the constant posting of Images and Graphs and CORRECT INFORMATION all the time?
Apart from being boring, dull, and mundane, that would be impossible.

The fact that there are people who enter this room to create trouble is perfectly understandable.
The fact that WE the Members (paying or not) encourage them in many ways ,(by our attitude and responses to them mostly) is THE PROBLEM.

I do hope that as a Community, we can see-off the Stupidness of the last few days...........


Morning Pottery :)
Glad to see some mature logic... but it will be wasted on many.
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3175. Patrap
Well said pottery,..
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Quoting hydrus:
Are you a meteorologist Cotillion? If not you might consider a career in the weather sciences. You are very knowledgeable in these areas.....Igor is looking a little disorganized at the moment...


Hey Hydrus, thanks for the kind words, but no I'm not. Just a keen hobbyist with an eye towards the history side of things (as the history element is more my forte)
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3173. hydrus
Quoting sunlinepr:
We live in a Beautiful World

Yes we do...it is sad that some people do not do more to keep it that way.
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3172. pottery
Good Morning all.
This Blog is a valuable, informative place to find Real Time weather information.
This Blog is a place to find Good Information, Explanations, and Forecasts on current weather patterns and systems.
This Blog is frequented by all manner of people, from rank amateurs like me, to Specialists in the Science of Meteorology.

I cannot for the life of me understand why it is, that people here get so completely Frazzled and Worked-up, when the occasional post is critical of them, off topic, humourous or sarcastic.

Do we expect ONLY the constant posting of Images and Graphs and CORRECT INFORMATION all the time?
Apart from being boring, dull, and mundane, that would be impossible.

The fact that there are people who enter this room to create trouble is perfectly understandable.
The fact that WE the Members (paying or not) encourage them in many ways ,(by our attitude and responses to them mostly) is THE PROBLEM.

I do hope that as a Community, we can see-off the Stupidness of the last few days...........
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Quoting sunlinepr:
We live in a Beautiful World


Too bad people are always looking for ways to screw it up.
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Recon suggest that Karl's either very close to hurricane status or already is one.
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We live in a Beautiful World

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3168. Patrap
One can wu-mail wunderblogadmin for any concerns here.
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3165. hydrus
Quoting sammywammybamy:
Igor Still Strong
Julia Still Weakening
Karl Rapidly Intensyifying

Yet with all the Above Average Activity we havent had a United States Hurricane Landfall

Weve been lucky
Word....Sorry Sam...I just wanted to try that"word".
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3163. markot
isnt there a strong disturbance, wave off the afr. coast surprised they havnt given it a yellow circle yet.....
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 226
3160. srada
Quoting FLdewey:
Hmmm... I wonder if this is available in Mens?

Awesome T-SHIRT


On this blog, its always available in Men's..cant blame the ladies of WU for this mess1
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3159. hydrus
Quoting Cotillion:


Yes, several times, but you have to go before 1964.

1950 had its first 6 storms all being majors.

1961's first 5 storms all were majors (Anna to Esther).

1951 had 4 straight majors.

1953, 55, 58 also had 3 straight majors.

The issue is that this goes prior to satellite and enhanced forecasting techniques where undoubtedly the little Gastons, Nanas, etc were missed (which would have broken the sequence).
Are you a meteorologist Cotillion? If not you might consider a career in the weather sciences. You are very knowledgeable in these areas.....Igor is looking a little disorganized at the moment...
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Complete Update


AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Silly question - but here goes -- trying to email wunderground admin regarding the issues I have with comment refresh and can't seem to find the correct address. Can someone help?

TIA
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Quoting Patrap:
I never Poll on a Thursday.

I have a tee time.


Appreciate a fellow gulf coaster as well, glad one of the originals is still here :)
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I hope it's not a test that needs a brain!!!
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3 mb pressure drop in a matter of 59 minutes from recon... the new VDM is 984 mb
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3146. Patrap


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Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 16th day of the month at 13:00Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 308)
Storm Number & Year: 13L in 2010
Storm Name: Karl (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 3
Observation Number: 09
A. Time of Center Fix: 16th day of the month at 12:42:40Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 19°39'N 92°22'W (19.65N 92.3667W)
B. Center Fix Location: 121 miles (194 km) to the W (263°) from Campeche, Campeche, México.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,299m (4,262ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 53kts (~ 61.0mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 27 nautical miles (31 statute miles) to the SE (129°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 206° at 51kts (From the SSW at ~ 58.7mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 9 nautical miles (10 statute miles) to the ESE (119°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 984mb (29.06 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 15°C (59°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,518m (4,980ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 20°C (68°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,524m (5,000ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 13°C (55°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Open in the north-northeast
M. Eye Shape: Elliptical (oval shaped)
M. Orientation of Major Axis in Elliptical Eye: 30° to 210° (NNE to SSW)
M. Length of Major Axis in Elliptical Eye: 20 nautical miles (23 statute miles)
M. Length of Minor Axis in Elliptical Eye: 15 nautical miles (17 statute miles)
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 3 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Wind Outbound: 73kts (~ 84.0mph) in the northwest quadrant at 12:47:10Z
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 73kts (~ 84.0mph) in the northwest quadrant at 12:47:10Z
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3144. Bonedog
12:47:30Z 19.817N 92.567W
flight level 73 knots
(~ 83.9 mph)
SFMR surface 65 knots
(~ 74.8 mph)
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3141. angiest
Quoting Prgal:


LMAO!!!!!!


I guess you figured it out. :)
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
3138. angiest
Quoting scott39:
Thats what I was concerned about.


I think this is the correct layer for Karl right now:

Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Wunderground receives a lot of traffic and has a solid Google Page Rank status. I am sure that most, if not all forecasters visit Wunderground. NHC professional forecasters probably visit the Wunderblog, but they do not post here. Why? It would ruin their credibility and reputation. Wasting time in futile blabber and debates with dogmatic individuals and trolls really reduces your productivity and credibility.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.