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 CaicosRetiredSailor:




evening Surfmom...

EEEgor. Beeeeegor
Wow, Igor's pretty close to the Lesser Antilles, how are the waves like there?
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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...
Almost sounds similar to what a tsunami does.
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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.



Looks like Igor's going to be building a pretty large eye.
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1732. pottery
Hi Mom!!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25393
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?
Yeah I noticed that. I like it, you should definitely keep it.
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1730. 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.

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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.


Agreed, reminds me slightly of Alex from June..
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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...

Those are Tsunami-like waves...
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1727. srada
has anyone seen Levi video..he still not sold entirely on Igor making that direct path over bermuda..models ensemble suggesting a MORE western path....still something the conus need to watch..
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Crazy awesome avatar there Atmo!
Just about have to bring it up full size to see what it is. Only looks weird in the blog....
should I keep it?
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Your right, its about an hour old.
Still.. this is a little more up to date.
Rather impressive structure for being inland for 6+ hours. Should intensify quite quickly as it begins to move over water.
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Almost complete
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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?
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Graphically:
Crazy awesome avatar there Atmo!
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Quoting Tazmanian:



thats old and has not updated


Your right, its about an hour old.
Still.. this is a little more up to date.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Microwave fixes suggest that Igor has been moving due west over the past hour and 48 minutes.


well some were saying they thought an Earl setup was going to be in play with this one
dont you just hate the ones that get to close
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1715. pottery
Quoting washingtonian115:
Bermuda needs to worry about Igor. I sure would this cyclone could get quite nasty if Igor decides to take the worst case scenario path.

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...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25393
Quoting pottery:

Good to 'see' you, Sheri.
Yeh, Bermuda people must be looking at Igor and hoping for a miracle...

Yeah, we want Igor to stair step west and then run up the coast between the CONUS and Bermuda. Will make a great weekend for the surfers and an even better one for the Bermudans!
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11445




evening Surfmom...

EEEgor. Beeeeegor
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
Evening surfmom, long time no talk....looks like 1 hell of a trip to the east coast this weekend!!!
Member Since: June 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1934
Quoting cat5hurricane:
That's about right. Charlie (25 mi) was small, but Katrina & Ike were huge...over 100mi.
If he were bigger I doubt seriously he would have flirted with cat 5 as long as he did.
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1710. angiest

Quoting Patrap:
Heres a good tip from the developers of wunderground.

Upgrade your Browser to FireFox as they design the products around that Browser.
They should be designed around standards, not a particular browser.  That said, the current setup works with Chrome/Chromium.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1709. bassis
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.


My eyes agree, especially from a broad view of the atlantic
Member Since: September 8, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
Quoting palmasdelrio:


Okay. Your're right. Most hurricanes somehow miss us.
yes they do!! people here panic over anything, my Niebuhr was about to put shutters up for Gaston, because the local Media said it would be a Cat 1 when it hit us, lol
Member Since: April 7, 2010 Posts: 5 Comments: 347
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Microwave fixes suggest that Igor has been moving due west over the past hour and 48 minutes.
Shouldn't mean nothing in the long run.
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1706. srada
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Bleh, I know how that feels...I was real sick a couple weeks ago.

Hope you feel better soon!


Im just getting over bronchitis myself..had to have a z-pac..but feeling much better..something must be going around the blog..lol
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


I would look at the actual coordinates before making that statement, the center is on the very NW edge of all that convection


ADT thinks otherwise.
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Quoting angiest:

Surprising.  Looks like it should be bigger than that.
Graphically:
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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.



thats old and has not updated
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5092 Comments: 115688
1702. surfmom
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


nah the cyclone season usually goes through mid December, with some possibility of one tropical cyclone formation in January.

Hades - it always seems like you are tracking a storm--I don't know how you keep up sometimes!
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1700. leo305
Quoting luigi18:


Hey Aceres you are sure that scares us here in borinquen


its moving slow though
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
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.


I would look at the actual coordinates before making that statement, the center is on the very NW edge of all that convection
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1698. angiest

Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Bleh, I know how that feels...I was real sick a couple weeks ago.

Hope you feel better soon!
I'm down with something too. :P
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
HurricaneFCast, I like that illustration you made of Igor and Texas. Been a long time since I've seen you on also.

Thanks StSimons.. Yeah I've been crazy busy with school. Studying Meteorology isn't easy, Lol!
Many nights I've got to study until 4am or so and then wake up at 8 for classes.. I will say, I'm glad I chose University of Miami.. Their Atmo Campus is the best campus I've ever seen. Where else can you study while digging your toes in the sand by the crisp, clear waters of Key Biscayne? :O
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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.
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1695. luigi18
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Microwave fixes suggest that Igor has been moving due west over the past hour and 48 minutes.


Hey Aceres you are sure that scares us here in borinquen
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1694. angiest

Quoting atmoaggie:

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 45 MILES...75 KM...FROM
THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO
240 MILES...390 KM.

This qualifies as a medium-size system. A little small in hurricane-force radius, actually.
Surprising.  Looks like it should be bigger than that.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1693. pottery
Quoting catastropheadjuster:

Hey Pottery, how ya doing? I hope fine. I am glad we have these hurricanes way out the in the Atlantic and hopefully they want be
doing no damage. I really hope it misses Bermuda. But they are
nice to watch.
sheri

Good to 'see' you, Sheri.
Yeh, Bermuda people must be looking at Igor and hoping for a miracle...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25393
1692. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1680. AussieStorm 12:45 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

So glad it's not near the Philippines, they had enough last year to last them into this year.


yup the Philippines had been watching most of their storm that made/form within the Philippines Area of Responsibility box not affect the country.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 54 Comments: 48847
I just found out how much ACE we have accumulated. 95. Already.
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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

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 45 MILES...75 KM...FROM
THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO
240 MILES...390 KM.

This qualifies as a medium-size system. A little small in hurricane-force radius, actually.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
To be honest once this EWRC is complete expect another round of intensification for Igor.. it has one more shot for 160. After that SSTs cool off. I fully expect Karl to weaken to a depression in a very similar way that Alex did over the Yucatan. After that we'll probably see Karl ramp up as it nears to coast line, hurricanes love shallow warm waters, this could be similar to Hurricane Stan or Alex. I would have done an update today, but I'm as sick as a dog w/ bronchitis.
Bleh, I know how that feels...I was real sick a couple weeks ago.

Hope you feel better soon!
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1688. leo305
Quoting HurricaneFCast:


First of all, That's simply semantics. Sure, you can technically say that the circulation "influences" an area beyond the core convective area (CCA, to save time) of the system. However, in Igor's case, the "CCA" is essentially the entire system. Currently, any affects outside of Igor's CCA (in its current form) are minimal at best. 34KT wind fields extend from roughly 58W-52W, which is well within its CCA.
Secondly, note the disclaimer "crudely" juxtaposed image. This wasn't a work of art, and I wasn't going to spend all night perfecting the cropping of Igor's entire circulation. This was simply a rough juxtaposition to emphasize Igor's large size. I apologize if it isn't perfect.


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
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
1687. surfmom
I spy my fav pyrate.
ooooOOOOOO & fav Island MON

quite a threesome out there - menage du trois canes

forgive me ...yes I'm here to check for waves
hoping Karl stays little, but gives just enogh to rock the buoys & give me waves to ride

such a junkie,,, *sigh*
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Quoting Chicklit:

LTLRox, we don't want him turning too soon.
Poor little Bermuda is in his sites as of now. Igor needs to go a little further west and thread the needle. Those surfers in Charleston always appreciate a good wave anyway. I know, my nephew is one of them!


Just to let you know, I'm counting how many times you say good night tonight. LMAO
j/k
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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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