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 pottery:

The point is...
Very large waves are Very Destructive.
Does not matter, in this context..........
Exactly.
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Quoting surfmom:
maybe Julia has made a proposal???


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?
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1834. angiest

Quoting washingtonian115:
Yeah someone would make a comment when I'm wrong.....(rolls eyes).I was comparing the speed.Since pottery said that the waves travel faster when they get closer to the shore.
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.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
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!
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1832. 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.

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1831. KYDan
Quoting PcolaDan:
Well, I found a radar on the east side of the Bay of Campeche, but...... not sure it helps much. :)



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?
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1830. pottery
Quoting surfmom:
I don't know, I just got confused LOL

heheheh
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1829. SirCane
Is it just me or is Igor moving West AGAIN?
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1828. DDR
Hi pottery
How much rain have you measured over the last 2 days?
Heard about some flooding yesterday down in your area
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1827. surfmom
Quoting angiest:

I haven't seen him move much in the last few hours.
maybe Julia has made a proposal???
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Amazing storms this morning, and Karl about to enter the Gulf.

An unusual jet stream pattern is setting up: it dives straight south from the Arctic ocean, across Alaska and the Yukon, British Columbia, the US Pacific Northwest, then continuing east across the CONUS. As a result, a ridge is pumping warm subtropical Pacific air into the Arctic north of Alaska, and that region has experienced a rapid ice melt.



A strong La Nina pattern is setting up for a cold and snowy winter in Southern Ontario. Meanwhile, the US Northeast is likely to get less snow than last winter. What does the "rich text" button do?
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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...
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1823. pottery
Quoting angiest:

Yeah, waves from tropical cyclones are at the surface.  Tsunami affect a significant portion of the water column, and therefore are unnoticeable in deep water.

The point is...
Very large waves are Very Destructive.
Does not matter, in this context..........
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1822. surfmom
Quoting pottery:

I have been TRYING to ignore them.....
heheheh

and who is "they"?
ORCA??
LOL

ROTFL- you make me laugh BIG - hee, hee, hee
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1821. hydrus
Quoting angiest:

Wilma? That may be the canonical pinhole eye.
This is not the one I was looking for, but check out the time lapse on Wilma with the strange eye movement...There are some other good vids on here too.Link
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
No disrespect, but it's a completely different form of energy. Wave action comes from the friction of the wind moving the surface layer of water. A tsunami occurs when the entire water column is displaced. Either from undersea movement or a landslide.
Yeah someone would make a comment when I'm wrong.....(rolls eyes).I was comparing the speed.Since pottery said that the waves travel faster when they get closer to the shore.
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1819. angiest

Quoting bird72:

I think Igor is stalling, I mention that to Storm W, I think last night, I don't know a lot about meteorology in terms of some technicalities things, but I'm a Civil Engineer, and I know a lot about how forces acts, and I just use that and logic to see how those forces act over Igor and making it to stall, and I think is stalling.
I haven't seen him move much in the last few hours.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting pottery:

Igor was at 20N this morning.
He is still at 20N this evening.
So he has not moved North....

or am I wrong here?
5 am they had him at 19.5 and now at 20.1
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1817. surfmom
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Almost done, not too much longer now...

Lordy -- like watching a chicken hatch .....well, in this case Igor's eye
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1816. pottery
Quoting Vero1:


Pottery: They are showing two blobs coming your way.


I have been TRYING to ignore them.....
heheheh

and who is "they"?
ORCA??
LOL
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1815. bird72
Quoting JLPR2:


Me too! XD

I think Igor is stalling, I mention that posibility to Storm W, I think last night, I don't know a lot about meteorology in terms of some technicalities things, but I'm a Civil Engineer, and I know a lot about how forces acts, and I just use that and logic to see how those forces act over Igor and making it to stall, and I think is stalling.
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2010 ACE will break 100 tomorrow.
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1813. KYDan
West side of the BOC radar.

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1812. centex
It was at 20.1N at 5PM.
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Quoting JLPR2:


That eye is going to be huge.

Yeah you can already see Igors eye clearing out it is going to be massive.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
Quoting pottery:

Igor was at 20N this morning.
He is still at 20N this evening.
So he has not moved North....

or am I wrong here?


You are not wrong. Igor is moving west and that was not expected. This thing should be moving NW right now and not west.
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1809. surfmom
Quoting pottery:

Igor was at 20N this morning.
He is still at 20N this evening.
So he has not moved North....

or am I wrong here?
I don't know, I just got confused LOL
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Shouldn't mean nothing in the long run.
You are correct. It may mean something.
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1807. surfmom
Quoting atmoaggie:
Gee, hasn't lost all that much. But coming off low in latitude. The shallow waters along the shore should keep him from intensifying too terribly much, I hope.



The water temps have got to be hot, Hot hOt
I'm at 89/90 in the shallows here SWFL
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Quoting WeatherfanPR:
anybody notice that Igor is moving west ?
When he ends up in Europe people are still gonna claim he is moving west, and some will say Florida should be in the cone
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Off to study... Good to see some familiar faces from a few years back still doing well though. Take care everyone.
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1804. angiest

Quoting pottery:

Igor was at 20N this morning.
He is still at 20N this evening.
So he has not moved North....

or am I wrong here?
He hasn't moved much in the last 48 hours, really.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting stormpetrol:
I think 9.5N/40.5W needs to be watched. Anyone else have problems with the the satelite updates on NHC site.


Seems the Igor floater stops at 13:45 UTC
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1802. leo305
Quoting HurricaneFCast:


The image you see is much larger than its TS convective wind field, lol. Sigh, I give up.


I know you posted its convective size, and that's about it, but you didn't clarify its just the convection your posting, and said "This is how big the storm is" when in reality the circulation of the entire storm is much larger, that's like saying HERMINE is a small little storm on satellite, but in reality it develops a large pull of rain from the gulf into the states, that shows the circulation's influence is farther than its core convection..

You are posting size, then you change it to "Its just the area its affecting with any significance" but the storm is still larger than that.

I would develop a more compelling discussion, but im really not in the mood for an arguement
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1801. angiest

Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
No disrespect, but it's a completely different form of energy. Wave action comes from the friction of the wind moving the surface layer of water. A tsunami occurs when the entire water column is displaced. Either from undersea movement or a landslide.
Yeah, waves from tropical cyclones are at the surface.  Tsunami affect a significant portion of the water column, and therefore are unnoticeable in deep water.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1800. pottery
Quoting weatherxtreme:
Igor does appear to be moving more in a westerly fashion at least at the moment IMO to my untrained eyes.

Igor was at 20N this morning.
He is still at 20N this evening.
So he has not moved North....

or am I wrong here?
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1799. JLPR2
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Almost done, not too much longer now...



That eye is going to be huge.
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Almost done, not too much longer now...

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1797. angiest

Quoting hydrus:
It is pretty flat in that region. Its fine looking upper air structure should remain relatively intact after it finishes the journey across the Yucatan..... Can you tell me sumthin? Is this a pin hole eye?
Wilma? That may be the canonical pinhole eye.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1796. JLPR2
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I mentioned that area this morning.


I mentioned it last night.
Anyone mentioned it earlier? :]
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Almost sounds similar to what a tsunami does.
No disrespect, but it's a completely different form of energy. Wave action comes from the friction of the wind moving the surface layer of water. A tsunami occurs when the entire water column is displaced. Either from undersea movement or a landslide.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
I think 9.5N/40.5W needs to be watched. Anyone else have problems with the the satelite updates on NHC site.
I mentioned that area this morning.
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1793. Vero1
Quoting pottery:

A small (relatively!!) area of close to 50 feet there.
Magnificent to be able to see that.
Terrifying if it is coming your way though...


Pottery: They are showing two blobs coming your way.

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Quoting pottery:

I LOVE it Atmo.
Now, I feel totally Insignificant, man.
Hehe....
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1791. hydrus
Quoting CybrTeddy:
IR suggest Karl has a excellent structure, I'm surprise it isn't more ragged looking. The BOC as the Doc mentioned helps storms with cyclonic turning, which is why we saw Stan, Marco, Hermine, and Alex ramp up so quickly plus with favorable conditions ahead. I see no reason why this can't attain 85 mph before a landfall, reason being it is still moving pretty fast.
It is pretty flat in that region. Its fine looking upper air structure should remain relatively intact after it finishes the journey across the Yucatan..... Can you tell me sumthin? Is this a pin hole eye?
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1790. JLPR2
Quoting pottery:

I LOVE it Atmo.
Now, I feel totally Insignificant, man.


Me too! XD
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Quoting leo305:


you should have clarified in the pic, it's the size of it's overall TS convective wind field, and not the entire circulation.


The image you see is much larger than its TS convective wind field, lol. Sigh, I give up.
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1788. surfmom
Quoting Nolehead:
i hear ya surfmom...sad thing is over here in Orange Bch, oil is still in the water along with the dang disbursants...all the experts can say what they want...i know what the GOM is supposed the feel like, and it ain't right not 1 damn bit...so on to bigger and better waves...lol...yeah Karl won't give you much of anything but that little jog to the east coast might just get that heart a pumpin..lol


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 -
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Gee, hasn't lost all that much. But coming off low in latitude. The shallow waters along the shore should keep him from intensifying too terribly much, I hope.

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1786. pottery
Quoting atmoaggie:
It takes patience...see the title and caption.
lol.

I LOVE it Atmo.
Now, I feel totally Insignificant, man.
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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.