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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1636. Patrap
ESL by LSU Atlantic Ocean View (Updated ~3 hours)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
1635. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1610. WeatherNerdPR 12:30 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Ugh...Let me guess...ANOTHER WPAC Storm?


yup another near the southern Japan islands
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44740
1634. leo305
you can't post youtube videos, it hurts the blog
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753

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!
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
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
jogging a little westward
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Quoting Chicklit:
hey, evening. from the latest model runs, looks like igor will go west of bermuda.



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.

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1630. bird72
Quoting HurricaneFCast:


Here is a crudely juxtaposed image of Igor over Texas using a current satellite image (From ~2345Z). I created this picture simply to show just how large Hurricane Igor is. Again, this is purely juxtaposed to emphasize a characteristic of Igor- the size.

Igor, the mother of all hurricanes, the only other hurricane that I remember so big was hurricane Gilbert.
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something weird just happened to the blog btw
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11174
1628. leo305
Quoting HurricaneFCast:


Here is a crudely juxtaposed image of Igor over Texas using a current satellite image (From ~2345Z). I created this picture simply to show just how large Hurricane Igor is. Again, this is purely juxtaposed to emphasize a characteristic of Igor- the size.


Igor is much larger than that, the circulation extends well beyond its heaviest convection
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
1627. xcool
some one hacker blog
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1626. BDADUDE
Quoting HurricaneFCast:


Here is a crudely juxtaposed image of Igor over Texas using a current satellite image (From ~2345Z). I created this picture simply to show just how large Hurricane Igor is. Again, this is purely juxtaposed to emphasize a characteristic of Igor- the size.
How would it look over Bermuda?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ldog74:


There has only been one storm that I know of that has affected San Diego as a hurricane: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1858_San_Diego_hurricane

However, I remember reading about a couple Tropical Depressions/Storms that affected the area. Many storms have brought rain to the area, as indicated by this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_California_hurricanes

Might also want to check out this Link.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting btwntx08:

ROFLMAO
I heard that he was so moved by the story last night, he swam to the oil rig, in search of the poor soul needing weather info.
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I guess Julia got tired of being ignored,and dicided to ramp up on us.Impressive yet sneaky she was.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16409
Bermuda was a dot on my screen, probably from splashed spaghetti or something.
The island is at 32N 64W which is right about where Igor is forecast to go at this point.
Yikes.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11174
1619. Vero1
Quoting pottery:

You have any specs on the drone?
Would love to see them...


Pottery...Here is the GRIP website with everything...including tracking.

http://grip.nsstc.nasa.gov/current_weather.html
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Blog Update

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

:) Hey.
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5627
1615. Patrap
Global Hawk Specs and more,Flash Player
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
PR getting pounded

img src="">
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1613. pottery
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:
Surely. Good evening, 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!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24026
Quoting Caribbeanislands101:
it's just a joke, it's very hard for PR to get a direct hit


Okay. Your're right. Most hurricanes somehow miss us.
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
239
TCNA21 RJTD 160000
CCAA 16000 47644 FANAPI(1011) 14215 11278 13244 235// 90207=

Severe Tropical Storm Fanapi (STS 14)
21.5N 127.8E
Dvorak Intensity: T3.5

Ugh...Let me guess...ANOTHER WPAC Storm?
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5627
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
Good evenin' -- any of the WU guys out tornado chasing and/or have they checked in? Reports of 7-inch hail, holy moly (though no pics on TWC, that might be like the stories of the fish that got away)!


Hey there. Don't know of anyone from here out there, but someone left a link for a good watching site here.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Blog Update

Tropics in full gear: Tracking Igor, Julia, and Karl
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Patrap:


Thats the best part of the Wunderground, the sharing.

.."I believe"..
LOL, and, agreed.
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1606. Patrap


NASA pilots and flight engineers, together with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have successfully completed the first science flight of the Global Hawk aircraft over the Pacific Ocean. The Global Hawk is a robotic plane that can fly autonomously to altitudes above 60,000 feet (18.3 kilometers) -- roughly twice as high as a commercial airliner -- and as far as 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 kilometers) -- half the circumference of Earth. GloPac researchers will directly measure and sample greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting substances, aerosols, and constituents of air quality in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
1605. JLPR2
Quoting Caribbeanislands101:
How's school going ?


School, finished it in 09, college, eh.. not bad. XD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
Quoting JLPR2:


True, we are lucky :)
*knocks on wood*

that last direct it was georges, and i wasn't even leaving here, lol
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1603. BDAwx
Igor has impressive concentric eye-walls.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting palmasdelrio:


It's a gazillion miles from PR, so I think you're getting a little ahead of yourself.
it was a joke, lol, people here say that lot XD!
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1600. JLPR2
Quoting Caribbeanislands101:
it's just a joke, it's very hard for PR to get a direct hit


True, we are lucky :)
*knocks on wood*
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
Quoting pottery:
Good Evening all.
For people who watch and marvel at Hurricanes, this is surely a Good Day!
Surely. Good evening, Pottery.
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Quoting JLPR2:


nah! Stop saying that! XD
How's school going ?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1597. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
239
TCNA21 RJTD 160000
CCAA 16000 47644 FANAPI(1011) 14215 11278 13244 235// 90207=

Severe Tropical Storm Fanapi (STS 14)
21.5N 127.8E
Dvorak Intensity: T3.5
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44740
wouldnt effects on bermuda be less if it passed east of the island?
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Quoting Caribbeanislands101:
nos va partir por el mismo medio


It's a gazillion miles from PR, so I think you're getting a little ahead of yourself.
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Quoting JLPR2:


nah! Stop saying that! XD
it's just a joke, it's very hard for PR to get a direct hit
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.Igor looke like its going other round of RI
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Good evenin' -- any of the WU guys out tornado chasing and/or have they checked in? Reports of 7-inch hail, holy moly (though no pics on TWC, that might be like the stories of the fish that got away)!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting JLPR2:


Impressive, that's from Igor!
that's cool, Igor's almost 1000 miles across
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I think Bermudans are praying for the west course at this point...Igor does look to be stair-stepping.
IRLoop
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11174
1589. JLPR2
Quoting Caribbeanislands101:
nos va partir por el mismo medio


nah! Stop saying that! XD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
1588. leo305
Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:

I'm sorry, but I don't see an EWRC happening. I see a continuation of the same ole Igor.


http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/htdocs_dyn/tc_pages/thumbnails/thumbs/tc10/ATL/11L.IGOR/tc_ssmis/91h/2de greeticks/thumb/20100915.2202.f16.x.91h.11LIGOR.115kts-942mb-198N-552W.81pc.jpg

Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
1586. pottery
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

You have any specs on the drone?
Would love to see them...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24026

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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.