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

I LOVE it Atmo.
Now, I feel totally Insignificant, man.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24878
Igor does appear to be moving more in a westerly fashion at least at the moment IMO to my untrained eyes.
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1784. leo305
Quoting WeatherfanPR:


so, is an ilussion ?


miami posted something that showed the overall circulation moving almost due west but barely
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Quoting Tazmanian:



STOP CALLING IT A FISH it wont be a fish if it hits Bermuda dead on


Thank you, Taz. Keep telling them that a storm that hits an island is not a fish. So many think that all these islands are uninhabited.
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1781. leo305
Quoting HurricaneFCast:


Lee, I'm not arguing the fact that it's circulatory influence isn't much larger (I'm well aware).. I'm specifically speaking of its tangible influence, and therefore, it's convective area of influence.. because what is juxtaposed onto the map is what people would observe, not it's entire circulation. Hope that clarifies it...


you should have clarified in the pic, it's the size of it's overall TS force convective wind field, and not the entire circulation.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm sure this has already been mentioned, but I haven't been here all day....

6 years ago tonight, the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama were starting to feel the wrath of Hurricane Ivan! The anniversary is technically tomorrow, but the worst of it started before midnight on the 15th. At this point we were hunkered down...preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. This part of the Gulf Coast changed forever that night!
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Quoting HurricaneFCast:


Ehh.. If you will.. It's 74MPH Radii are quite small for the size of this system. However, the NHC would consider this system a large hurricane, due to its massive TS Wind Radii. (As they've continuously previously stated)

This is from Katrina at peak intensity:
HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES FROM THE
CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP
TO 205 MILES.

As you can see, Igor's TS wind field is actually larger.. but the Hurricane wind radii is on the small side. Overall, a very large system, simply its strongest winds are confined to a concentrated area.

I have noticed that the hurricane force wind radius has been kinda small and I've been wondering why that is, especially since there isn't any recon in the storm to determine. I'm quite curious to how the NHC is able to conclude that. Anyway, that radius should probably expand now, since the ERC is now entering its final stages.
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I think 9.5N/40.5W needs to be watched. Anyone else have problems with the the satelite updates on NHC site.
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1774. pottery
Quoting Vero1:





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...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24878
Quoting leo305:


im saying the circulation is much larger than that, if you believe a hurricane is only as big as it's convection/TS force wind radius, then so be it, I can't change that.

there are experts that have said it's well over a thousand miles across, the circulation is, and it is. Clearly on visible.


Lee, I'm not arguing the fact that it's circulatory influence isn't much larger (I'm well aware).. I'm specifically speaking of its tangible influence, and therefore, it's convective area of influence.. because what is juxtaposed onto the map is what people would observe, not it's entire circulation. Hope that clarifies it...
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Quoting leo305:


Igor is barely moving, and the eye it had is spinning around the larger eye forming


so, is an ilussion ?
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1771. leo305
Quoting pottery:

You did good there.
Ignore the Froth....


no need for personal attacks
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Quoting FLdewey:
If you love Florida hurricanes won't keep you from owning a house. My parents have owned the same house 1/2 mile from the beach in Indialantic since 1978... never sustained any major damage.

No worries. :-)


The Fla. east coast from just north of Vero all the way up to Georgia (including Indialantic on the Space Coast) virtually never sees serious storms -- just occasionally dying back-door storms from the Gulf. Get south of Vero, however, whole different story. Me and mine here in SE Fla. have been impacted -- at times seriously -- by Andrew, Irene, Frances, Jeanne, Katrina and Wilma. It all has to do with the physical shape of the peninsula.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Yeah...been keeping an eye on that for some time now. Probably a temporary jog, but maybe more.


I think that move was not expected.
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Recon will be heading into Igor tomorrow afternoon. That should assist us in determining Igor's hurricane force wind radii as I believe it is larger than what the NHC currently has it as.

2. HURRICANE IGOR
FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 70
A. 16/1800Z
B. AFXXX 0111A IGOR
C. 16/1430Z
D. 21.4N 57.6W
E. 16/1600Z TO 16/1900Z
F. SFC TO 15,000 FT
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1765. surfmom
Ahhhhhh Pyrate Caicos --IGORRRRRRRRRRRR he's a bad boy- I'm praying for the island of Bermuda -- got to hope MotherNature move this BAdBoY out of their path

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1764. pottery
Quoting HurricaneFCast:

Data from the area in question near the antilles report 13kt winds, and sparse rainfall. It's not as if I hacked a chunk of circulation out of the sat image, geez. The image you see is more than 95% of precipitation and 100% of any significant weather effects (>.1 inches of rain per hour, >25KT winds) associated with Igor. Honestly, as I previously stated, this is simply semantics... I ask you to consider the definition of "crudely". I apologize if the juxtaposition of Igor did not meet your standards.

You did good there.
Ignore the Froth....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24878
True, no fish if it impacts anything. Sorry, still learning here.
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1762. bassis
Quoting AussieStorm:

Bermuda is Land. If Hurricane Igor hits Bermuda, Hurricane Igor wont be a fish to them, maybe to you but not to them.


I think we have a coma issue here"," He's call "J" a fish
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Quoting PcolaDan:


That is cool, but geeze, I ain't got all night. lol
It takes patience...see the title and caption.
lol.
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1760. leo305
Quoting WeatherfanPR:
anybody notice that Igor is moving west ?


Igor is barely moving, and the eye it had is spinning around the larger eye forming
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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
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
That's about right. Charlie (25 mi) was small, but Katrina & Ike were huge...over 100mi.


Ehh.. If you will.. It's 74MPH Radii are quite small for the size of this system. However, the NHC would consider this system a large hurricane, due to its massive TS Wind Radii. (As they've continuously previously stated)

This is from Katrina at peak intensity:
HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES FROM THE
CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP
TO 205 MILES.

As you can see, Igor's TS wind field is actually larger.. but the Hurricane wind radii is on the small side. Overall, a very large system, simply its strongest winds are confined to a concentrated area.
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Quoting weatherxtreme:
Well I sure hope Bermuda is preparing for Igor and will be okay! Looks like after that it may be a FISH! Julia while a nice storm looks to be a FISH too. What's inline next?

Bermuda is Land. If Hurricane Igor hits Bermuda, Hurricane Igor wont be a fish to them, maybe to you but not to them.
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anybody notice that Igor is moving west ?
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1753. leo305
Quoting HurricaneFCast:

Data from the area in question near the antilles report 13kt winds, and sparse rainfall. It's not as if I hacked a chunk of circulation out of the sat image, geez. The image you see is more than 95% of precipitation and 100% of any significant weather effects (>.1 inches of rain per hour, >25KT winds) associated with Igor. Honestly, as I previously stated, this is simply semantics... I ask you to consider the definition of "crudely". I apologize if the juxtaposition of Igor did not meet your standards.


im saying the circulation is much larger than that, if you believe a hurricane is only as big as it's convection/TS force wind radius, then so be it, I can't change that.

there are experts that have said it's well over a thousand miles across, the circulation is, and it is. Clearly on visible.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Rather impressive structure for being inland for 6 hours. Should intensify quite quickly as it begins to move over water.
I'm just happy Karl didn't get his act together when south of Hispanola!
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True, very True and I really hope Bermuda is ready for this and will be full prepared!
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Looks like Igor's going to be building a pretty large eye.
It will contract as time progresses. It might make another attempt at category 5 over the next 24-48 hours before environmental conditions begin to go downhill.
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1747. surfmom
Quoting pottery:
Hi Mom!!

Aloha IsLand Mon - looks like your cisterns runneth over - much preferred over firefear
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Quoting duajones78413:
How big is Igor compared to other large hurricanes of the past?
Asked this several times today but didnt see an answer. Sorry if I missed it

Do a google search on Typhoon Tip. Hurricane Marco from 2008 could of fit in Typhoon Tip's eye.

Here's an images I found.


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1745. Levi32
Igor will have another shot at Cat 5 before reaching Bermuda, namely the next 48 hours or so.
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Quoting weatherxtreme:
Well I sure hope Bermuda is preparing for Igor and will be okay! Looks like after that it may be a FISH! Julia while a nice storm looks to be a FISH too. What's inline next?



STOP CALLING IT A FISH it wont be a fish if it hits Bermuda dead on
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115454
Quoting CybrTeddy:


ADT thinks otherwise.


then that was an old image you showed
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Quoting leo305:


there is a strong pull of cumulous from the north assosiated with igor's eastern circulation and it isn't wrapped in convection, resembeling high winds at the surface. It probably doesn't have convection since that side of the circulation is wrapped with dry air.

and if one looks at the antilees radar they can see some outer bands on radar, which aren't under the core convection.. and it's likely the outer bands produce strong wind gusts..

in esense the circulation is much larger than it seems

Data from the area in question near the antilles report 13kt winds, and sparse rainfall. It's not as if I hacked a chunk of circulation out of the sat image, geez. The image you see is more than 95% of precipitation and 100% of any significant weather effects (>.1 inches of rain per hour, >25KT winds) associated with Igor. Honestly, as I previously stated, this is simply semantics... I ask you to consider the definition of "crudely". I apologize if the juxtaposition of Igor did not meet your standards.
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1741. bassis
Quoting Levi32:
Save this if you like this stuff as I do. This is a classic example of an Eye Wall Replacement Cycle in its final stage.

This pass is only an hour old too.



Great view Levi

Glad to have you back

Not too much homework I hope
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1740. Vero1
Quoting pottery:

In any event, the last Wave Height forecast I saw (on here earlier) called for 30' waves to be in the open waters around Bermuda.
A 30' wave will peak at about 40-45' when it gets into shallow waters along the shore....
And they going to be travelling REAL fast...




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Quoting atmoaggie:
Just about have to bring it up full size to see what it is. Only looks weird in the blog....
should I keep it?


That is cool, but geeze, I ain't got all night. lol
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1738. surfmom
Quoting Nolehead:
Evening surfmom, long time no talk....looks like 1 hell of a trip to the east coast this weekend!!!
waiting it out : ) I'm hearing wind chop -- it's for the the boys.....notta mucho here - but no damage or OIL washing up either.

Aurasurf Report in relationship to Hurricane Karl
Micah Weaver
I just don't think it is enough to send some 6ft south swell through the channel. That's what it would take with all the east wind for us to get a decent swell up here. I doubt we will see anything from Karl not even a 1ft wave. Just too much easterlies everywhere, from Tulum all the way to New Orleans. Even if Karl strengthens in the Bay of Campeche we usually do not get swells from those areas unless they are intense, strong hurricanes. EC set for a round of thick chop swell. Be careful if you go over.

He doesn't often say be careful & I wondered about that - figure serious rip and/or wind
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Best case scenario for Igor is obviously east of CONUS and west of Bermuda.
Really, night all.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:




evening Surfmom...

EEEgor. Beeeeegor
Wow, Igor's pretty close to the Lesser Antilles, how are the waves like there?
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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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