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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Funny but today we had much more rain from the bands of Karl than yesterday when it was alot closer to us.
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:
What storms this year so far do you guys think will be retired?
ALEX
EARL
HERMINE
(IGOR)


I'm guessing none so far but Igor's not done yet.
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1283. Patrap
Yer's Welcome
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You know if Alex was retired, that'd be the 3rd time that the 'A' from that list has been retired.

Allen and Andrew was Alex's predecessors.

Probably a record amongst the lists, though I'm feeling too lazy to check at the moment.
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1281. Patrap
NASA | Towers in the Tempest



A hurricane's "hot towers" can increase its intensity by adding power to boost the storm's heat engine. For the first time, research meteorologists have run complex simulations of these phenomena using a very fine temporal resolution. They have combined this new simulation data with satellite observations to study the innerworking of the "hot towers" in never-before-seen detail.
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1280. unruly
i aplogize for the intrusion everyone...back to the tropics....
lurking, learning
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1273.
Thanks Patrap.
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1278. xcool
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Thanks Pat, just about to do that one.
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:


So they can recommend it to be retired?
That's cool. To whom do they ask?


They would recommend it to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). they are the group who decide about the list of hurricane names. So once a name is retired they would also be responsible to pick a new name to fill that spot.
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1275. xcool
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:
What storms this year so far do you guys think will be retired?
ALEX
EARL
HERMINE
(IGOR)

None so far.
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1273. Patrap


The Retirement of Hurricane Names

Hurricanes that have a severe impact on lives or the economy are remembered generations after the devastation they caused, and some go into weather history. The National Hurricane Center near Miami, Florida, monitors tropical disturbances in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans which could become a hurricane.

Whenever a hurricane has had a major impact, any country affected by the storm can request that the name of the hurricane be "retired" by agreement of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Retiring a name actually means that it cannot be reused for at least 10 years, to facilitate historic references, legal actions, insurance claim activities, etc. and avoid public confusion with another storm of the same name. If that happens, a like gender name is selected in English, Spanish or French for Atlantic Storms.

There is an exception to the retirement rule, however. Before 1979, when the first permanent six-year storm name list began, some storm names were simply not used anymore. For example, in 1966, "Fern" was substituted for "Frieda," and no reason was cited.

Below is a list of Atlantic Ocean retired names, the years the hurricanes occurred, and the areas they affected. There are, however, a great number of destructive storms not included on this list because they occurred before the hurricane naming convention was established in 1950.
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Igor still wnw.
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Slower to develop in this run; up to 150 hours.

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1995: 227 (19-11-5)2004: 224 (15-9-6)2005: 248 (28-15-7 - inc. one Subtropical storm, 27-15-7 for ACE purposes.1926: 222 (11-8-6). THis is very interesting, I would say that in terms of overall numbers, 1926 and 2004 those not much less ACE , but much less in terms of numbers of named or classified out performed 2005 compared with numbers matched with ACE, jmo.

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Quoting Cotillion:


Alex. (It did more damage to Mexico than Dean did)

Earl depends on how Antigua, Saint Maarten and the BVI feel.


So they can recommend it to be retired?
That's cool. To whom do they ask?
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:
What storms this year so far do you guys think will be retired?
ALEX
EARL
HERMINE
(IGOR)


Alex. (It did more damage to Mexico than Dean did)

Earl depends on how Antigua, Saint Maarten and the BVI feel.
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Quoting scott39:
Lisa or Matthew


ok. but out of the ones que have already formed.
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1264. Patrap
NHC Model Overview

Introduction

Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) have a variety of prediction models available to provide guidance for their forecasts of tropical cyclone tracks and intensity. The intent of this paper is to provide a brief overview of each of the models. Forecasters may find this information helpful when considering NHC discussions which mention the performance of individual models. A primary reference is provided after the summary of each model for readers who desire more information. NOTE: All thumbnail graphics in this Web document are linked to larger version of the graphics. Just click the thumbnail to view the larger version.

As noted by Neumann (1979), models for the prediction of tropical cyclone motion and intensity may be classified as either statistical or dynamical. Statistical models rely on what has happened-the climatology of past storms, for example. Dynamical models can be classified as either barotropic or baroclinic. Statistical-dynamical models are an intermediate class that incorporate numerically forecast data into a statistical prediction framework, similar to the Model Output Statistics used to provide guidance for specific parameters such as temperature and probability of precipitation.


BAM - The Beta and Advection Model

The Beta and Advection Model is a baroclinic-dynamical track prediction model. It produces a forecast track by following a trajectory in the vertically averaged horizontal wind starting at the current storm location out to 120 hours. The trajectory is corrected to account for the variation of the Coriolis force with latitude, the so-called Beta effect. (Beta is the Greek letter frequently used in meteorological equations to represent the change in the Coriolis parameter with latitude.)

The figure shows how the conservation of absolute vorticity results in the formation of anticyclonic relative vorticity in the northeast quadrant of the storm, and the formation of cyclonic relative vorticity in the southwest quadrant of the storm: Diagram of absolute vorticity advection and relative vorticity formation in the vicinity of a tropical cyclone.. The result adds a component of motion to the northwest to the storm's trajectory.



Three versions of the BAM model are run with shallow (850-700 mb), medium (850-400 mb), and deep (850-200 mb) layers. All three versions of the model are run operationally four times per day.
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1262. scott39
Quoting HurricaneGeek:
What storms this year so far do you guys think will be retired?
ALEX
EARL
HERMINE
(IGOR)
Lisa or Matthew
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1261. xcool
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i wonder how many names we mite see before october? any guesses? im thinking 3
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1258. juniort
Can anyone enlighten me as to the system forcasted to develop in the atlantic next week end eventually effect the Lesser Antilles islands like Barbados?
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1257. jdj32
Quoting Patrap:
Description of computer models

By Dr. Jeff Masters


Thank you for the link. It was very interesting. I have always wondered about Hurricane Computer Models. Thanks.
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1256. Patrap
Thats a real Busy RECON POD fo sho..,manned and unmanned
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18z run at 132 hours:

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1254. Patrap

Plan of the Day

000
NOUS42 KNHC 151630 CCA
WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
1230 PM EDT WED 15 SEPTEMBER 2010
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 16/1100Z TO 17/1100Z SEPTEMBER 2010
TCPOD NUMBER.....10-107 CORRECTION

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. TROPICAL STORM KARL
FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 76 FLIGHT TWO -- TEAL 78
A. 16/1200,1800Z A. 17/0000,0600Z
B. AFXXX 0313A KARL B. AFXXX 0413A KARL
C. 16/0845Z C. 16/2045Z
D. 20.1N 91.7W D. 20.9N 93.7W
E. 16/1130Z TO 16/1800Z E. 16/2330Z TO 17/0600Z
F. SFC TO 15,000 FT F. SFC TO 15,000 FT

FLIGHT THREE -- TEAL 76
A. 17/1200,1800Z
B. AFXXX 0513A KARL
C. 17/0845Z
D. 21.3N 95.2W
E. 17/1130Z TO 17/1800Z
F. SFC TO 15,000 FT

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

3. SUCCEEDING DAY OUTLOOK: CONTINUE 6-HRLY FIXES ON KARL.
BEGIN 12-HRLY FIXES ON IGOR AT 17/1800Z.

4. REMARKS: RESEARCH FLIGHTS PLANNED FOR KARL.
A. THE NASA GLOBAL HAWK WILL FLY A 25 HR MISSION
(FL 58,OO0-65,000) WITH TAKEOFF OF 16/1200Z.
B. THE NOAA G-IV WILL FLY AN 8 HR MISSION BETWEEN
41,000 AND 45,000 FT WITH TAKEOFF AT 16/1730Z.
C. THE NASA DC-8 WILL FLY AN 8 HR MISSION BETWEEN
35,000 AND 39,000 FT WITH TAKEOFF AT 16/1800Z.
D. NOAA 42 A P-3 WILL FLY AN 8 HR MISSION AT 12,000
FT WITH A 16/1500Z TAKEOFF.
E. A NASA WB-57 WILL FLY A 6 HR MISSION BETWEEN
52,000 AND 60,000 FT TAKEOFF AT 16/2100Z.
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1253. xcool


Windward Islands
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1252. Patrap
One can always find the RECON schedule on the Left Side of the NHC Home Page

NHC Web page
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1251. marmark
Quoting Patrap:



One looks for "consensus" in Tropical Models.

Thus the Statistical,,and Dynamic runs on a Individual Storm.


My point, exactly.
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What storms this year so far do you guys think will be retired?
ALEX
EARL
HERMINE
(IGOR)
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1248. Patrap
Quoting marmark:
IMO, the NHC wouldn't consider nor use models that are unreliable in their official forecast track. Ike had a good point. Some models work better than others depending on so many factors.



One looks for "consensus" in Tropical Models.

Thus the Statistical,,and Dynamic runs on a Individual Storm.


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1247. xcool


9n -39w GFS STORMS.
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Quoting Cotillion:
Or, you can do it via ACE.

A blend is probably best (As ACE can distort the overall picture a bit towards Cape Verde-hurricanes as opposed to actual numbers).


Yes, ACE can "distort the overall picture a bit towards Cape Verde-hurricanes"...but there are times when it does not. Most notably, of the six 2005 storms with the highest ACE--Ophelia, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Emily, and Wilma, who together accounted for more than 60% of that season's ACE--none were CV-type storms.
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1245. marmark
Quoting Patrap:


Its on the right side of this page under,

Recommended Links
IMO, the NHC wouldn't consider nor use models that are unreliable in their official forecast track. Ike had a good point. Some models work better than others depending on so many factors.
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20 storms since 1851 can be considered to be hyperactive*:

2005: 248 (28-15-7 - inc. one Subtropical storm, 27-15-7 for ACE purposes)
1950: 243 (13-11-8)
1893: 231 (12-10-5)
1995: 227 (19-11-5)
2004: 224 (15-9-6)
1926: 222 (11-8-6)
1933: 213 (21-10-5)
1961: 205 (11-8-7)
1955: 199 (12-9-6)
1887: 182 (19-11-2)
---
1998: 182 (14-10-3)
1878: 181 (12-10-2)
1999: 177 (12-8-5)
2003: 175 (16-7-3)
1964: 170 (12-6-6)
1886: 166 (12-10-4)
1996: 166 (13-9-6)
1906: 163 (11-6-3)
1969: 158 (18-12-5)
1899: 150 (9-5-2)** Half of this is one storm alone

(* - Two caveats. Yes, we all know about the problems with the earlier seasons about inaccuracies over path, timing, windspeed etc. Secondly, if including seasons from before x year [I dunno if the algorithm is calculated back to 1851 or not], the median number may change - i.e. downshifted - thereby increasing the amount of seasons that would be considered 'hyperactive].
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1243. Patrap


Outflow from KARL bringing rain to the Se. La. Coast.

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1241. jdj32
Quoting Ldog74:


I can think of one instance off the top of my head, but it is probably not going to play a factor in the immediate future. The satellite intensity estimates for Wilma were never all that impressive. Keep in mind were comparing "impressive" with the strongest known storm in the Atlantic ever. This was due to two factors. One, the satellite pictures of Wilma were not as pretty as say, Rita, or Gilbert. Two, the pinhole eye of Wilma was so small that satellites could not get an accurate eye temp reading, so the wind estimates were deflated. One pixel on the satellite was larger than the eye itself if i remember correctly. However, the Hurricane Hunters in that instance were unable to locate the true center with a dropsonde either.

An opposite example can be Cyclone Monica in the South Pacific. Intensity estimates based on satellite pictures were as low as 858 if i remember correctly (in other words, a pure 8.0 on Dvorak), and yet officially the storm never dropped below 900 MB in pressure.


Thank you for the information. It was helpful. I think that HH Recon is scheduled to visit Hurricane Igor on Friday per NOAA Website. Jeff

ADDITIONAL DAY OUTLOOK: BEGIN 12-HRLY FIXES OF
HURRICANE IGOR AT 17/1800Z NEAR 25.4N 61.7W.
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1240. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL, it's a rare occasion that the UKMET develops a system...not saying it isn't reliable, it's just a rare thing.


Right.
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1239. Patrap
Quoting marmark:
Timely...thanks.


Its on the right side of this page under,

Recommended Links
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Igor still going wnw.
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Thanks, Storm.

So one can sumize that the reduced signal beginning in Aug can be associated with La Niña gaining strength that month? Does that mean the MJO has reduced or that it's signature is being masked by the ENSO, and it is just as influential in the tropics as neutral years? I'm asking because there's a major shift in velocity potential and moisture coming in the next couple of weeks which happens to coincide with some models showing the GOM lighting up...
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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.