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 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
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
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.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16679
Microwave fixes suggest that Igor has been moving due west over the past hour and 48 minutes.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21098
1682. JLPR2

Quoting BenBIogger:





That disturbance is looking more and more interesting.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8641
Quoting Patrap:
Heres a good tip from the developers of wunderground.

Upgrade your Browser to FireFox as they design the products around that Browser.

Amen (yeah, what Pat said, again). And no I haven't had any beer, maybe that's the problem.

G'night, Chicklit...son just walked in the door, see you all another time.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


yup another near the southern Japan islands

So glad it's not near the Philippines, they had enough last year to last them into this year.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
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.
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Quoting LTLROX:
This is the third night in a row that Igor has made a little dash to the west. Like it turns dark and no one will be able to see him.

Would someone point out to him that there is a nice trough to the north coming up that he should turn into.

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!
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11267
1676. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1674. WeatherNerdPR 12:43 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Is there an average for each year?


around 25-30 cyclones
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 45206
Quoting leo305:


Igor is much larger than that, the circulation extends well beyond its heaviest convection


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 effects 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.
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


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

Is there an average for each year?
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5672


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
hey guys it seem that Igor is moving west
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Quoting Patrap:
YouTubes do not slow the blog..ever.

There is plenty of server space for anything ,,save for Large files.

The Blogs use's only 2-3 % of the server on a Busy day.


Yeah, what Pat said!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Oh well, off to wunderland.
have a nice evening everyone.
Hope no one is hurt in flooding over yucatan.
NHC forecasts hurricane on second landfall.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11267
1669. Patrap
Heres a good tip from the developers of wunderground.

Upgrade your Browser to FireFox as they design the products around that Browser.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
1668. pottery
Vero, Thanks for that as well.
What a Fantastic Machine...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24202
1667. JLPR2
Buoy 324nm to the south of Igor is reporting winds of 25mph. :\

Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8641
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
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Blog Update

Tropics in full gear: Tracking Igor, Julia, and Karl


Back later.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21098
Quoting leo305:


Igor is much larger than that, the circulation extends well beyond its heaviest convection



Very true, some of the buoys hundreds of miles from the center are showing winds from the direction corresponding to Igors circulation



NWS Upton is even talking about gales on Eastern waters Sunday night from the pressure gradient with Igor, which at the time will be 500 miles or more offshore.
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Quoting anyotherliestotell:


i dont care about "things". things can be replaced. maybe some old photos or something but that's about it.



Can't replace the "things" made for me by my children and grandchildren over the last 30+ years. Can't replace the "things" that have special meaning to us, some passed down for generations.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1662. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1645. WeatherNerdPR 12:37 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

It's getting annoying. Shouldn't it be inactive?


nah the cyclone season usually goes through mid December, with some possibility of one tropical cyclone formation in January.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 45206
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

It's getting annoying. Shouldn't it be inactive?
The Pacific is never inactive.

We had a good time tracking WPac storms last year, I was just a lurker back then.

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1660. leo305
Quoting Chicklit:

sheri the blog was stretched out and messed up.
there it goes; now it's fine.


posting youtube videos messes the blog up
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
1656. Patrap
YouTubes do not slow the blog..ever.

There is plenty of server space for anything ,,save for Large files.

The Blogs use's only 2-3 % of the server on a Busy day.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1653. LTLROX
This is the third night in a row that Igor has made a little dash to the west. Like it turns dark and no one will be able to see him.

Would someone point out to him that there is a nice trough to the north coming up that he should turn into.
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Quoting catastropheadjuster:



sheri the blog was stretched out and messed up.
there it goes; now it's fine.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11267
1650. catastropheadjuster
12:38 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Quoting Chicklit:
something weird just happened to the blog btw


what happen chicklit?
sheri

Member Since: August 24, 2006 Posts: 21 Comments: 3665
1649. MiamiHurricanes09
12:38 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
There goes the eye. Expect the new one to form over the next hour or two.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21098
1648. surfmom
12:38 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting Patrap:



A screen grab from the GRIP Real Time Mission Monitor (RTMM) system shows the Global Hawk and DC-8 flying in formation across Hurricane Earl on Thursday, Sept. 2, for one of the first times. Thursday’s flight marked the first time the Global Hawk flew over a hurricane. The drone’s extended flight range has scientists excited to observe hurricanes for unprecedented periods of time.
Credit: NASA


WOW!!! Unprecedented periods of time observing hurricane - WOW!
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
1647. BDAwx
12:37 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting Caribbeanislands101:
PR getting pounded

img src="">

That kinda looks like Flatt's in Bermuda...
Member Since: August 3, 2009 Posts: 51 Comments: 526
1646. pottery
12:37 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Thankee, Pat.
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1645. WeatherNerdPR
12:37 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


yup another near the southern Japan islands

It's getting annoying. Shouldn't it be inactive?
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5672
1644. dracko19
12:37 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
meh. blog going screwy. can't post pics now. Be back later
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1643. Patrap
12:36 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
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1642. Chicklit
12:36 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting dracko19:


I'm afraid not. Bermuda is right about 32.5 and 65. Most of the models are right over top of that spot or next to it.


You're right Drako. I mistook Bermuda for a splotch of something on my screen.
It is in doo doo at the moment.
Don't know how deep until we see if Igor will weaken or keep stair stepping west, but doesn't look good for Bermuda atm.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11267
1641. Neapolitan
12:36 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
ATCF says Igor's unchanged at 115kts/942mb:

AL, 11, 2010091600, , BEST, 0, 200N, 561W, 115, 942, HU, 64, NEQ, 40, 40, 30, 40, 1009, 330, 30, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, IGOR, D,
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13505
1640. xcool
12:35 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
AwakeInMaryland yeah lolol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15648
1639. PSLFLCaneVet
12:35 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting pottery:

'evening to you.
A lovely Moon coasting about in some great Cumulus this evening here.
Occasional flashes from the south, but a loooong way away.
Nice!
Glad to hear it.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
1638. xcool
12:35 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
greater interest is the scenario posed by the longer-term computer models of another system, a possible "Lisa", forming near the Windward Islands in about five days. This feature is shown to develop into perhaps a minimal hurricane by September 25, in the general vicinity if the Strait of Yucatan. I am fairly sure that the heat ridge will still be around Texas in the 11 - 15 day period. With a weakness in the 500MB ridge complex straddling the central and eastern Gulf Coast, and a very strong trough taking shape along 80 - 85 W Longitude, any system emerging in the open Gulf of Mexico would probably head inland between SE LA and FL, then run up along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. It is too far in time for a definitive forecast. However, should such a track come into play, a trend toward much cooler weather would almost certainly unfold in locations east of the Rocky Mountains.

In the meantime, get used to more heat and humidity

Larry Cosgrove
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15648
1637. AwakeInMaryland
12:35 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
Quoting PcolaDan:


Hey there. Don't know of anyone from here out there, but someone left a link for a good watching site here.


Hey back at ya', and thanks for the cool link. Except when I closed it, it closed up WU, too -- and I had to come back in and find you.

Did I see x-cool hacking? (j/k)
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
1636. Patrap
12:34 AM GMT on September 16, 2010
ESL by LSU Atlantic Ocean View (Updated ~3 hours)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803

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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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