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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StormW, you make me smile and laugh out loud!!!
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985. IKE
Mobile,AL....

LONG TERM (SATURDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY)...A WEAK FRONTAL BOUNDARY
WILL DROP SOUTH INTO THE FCST AREA AND DISSIPATE OVER THE
WEEKEND...BUT LACK OF MOISTURE AND ANY REAL DYNAMICS WILL RESULT IN
LITTLE PCPN WITH THIS FEATURE. IT WILL BRING A REINFORCEMENT TO THE
DRIER AIR MASS IN PLACE OVER THE REGION...BUT NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
IN TEMPERATURES EXPECTED. IF ANYTHING...AFTERNOON TEMPS MAY BE EVEN
WARMER THAN CURRENTLY ADVERTISED FOR EARLY NEXT WEEK AS LARGE UPPER
RIDGE BUILDS OVER THE REGION...PROVIDING COMPRESSIONAL HEATING AND
VERY LITTLE IN THE WAY OF CLOUDS/PCPN.
FOR NOW...WILL CALL FOR OVERNIGHT
LOWS IN THE LONG TERM PERIOD TO RANGE FROM THE MID/UPPER 60S OVER THE
INTERIOR...AND LOWER 70S CLOSER TO THE COAST.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting asgolfr999:


NE quadrant is only the worst in an westward moving storm. Northeast moving storm equals NW quadrant the most dangerous.


Don't think so, but I am not an expert.
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::sigh:: so the in-fighting continues today...salutations all. prayers for bermuda, and hopes they can shoot some pepper spray at igor and coax him to their EAST....

i caught a post on monday in regards to the possibility of a developing TC in the Eastern Caribbean, following a track that reminded me eerily of a storm 5 years ago from which i still have nightmares....could anyone comment as to whether or not there has been any consistency in the models trending towards this scenario? busy working all day =)
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the Belize radar loop is a little obscure...based on every sat loop I've looked at Karl looks like he's moving almost due west...maybe temporary?
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well the blog rules also say no personal attacks. it would be real nice if people would follow that one rule. does anyone know if the gfs is still calling for a gulf storm on the 28th? thanks in advance
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Lonely Bermuda..

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
Igor working hard on his pinhole eye I see.
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Quoting SQUAWK:


Reed, wouldn't being on the East side of the storm be the worst? That would put them in the Northeast quadrant. I would think they would like it to go East of them.


NE quadrant is only the worst in an westward moving storm. Northeast moving storm equals NW quadrant the most dangerous.

Edit...utter nonsense, forget I spoke or translate to the truth, you choose :-) I know what I meant. lol
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Quoting SQUAWK:


Reed, wouldn't being on the East side of the storm be the worst? That would put them in the Northeast quadrant. I would think they would like it to go East of them.


LOL.. wow, I'm sorry, I meant east side of the storm, west track = bad news.. my bad.
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Quoting SQUAWK:


Reed, wouldn't being on the East side of the storm be the worst? That would put them in the Northeast quadrant. I would think they would like it to go East of them.


Bingo.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


Just because you are respected and generally well-liked in here does not mean you can put meaningless posts down with just a number in them, when everyone else is supposed to follow the board rules. That's arrogant. And no one cares how many people you have on ignore.


Your post breaks the board rules...see how easy that was?

Remember, we all break at least 3 laws daily without even knowing we did
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Quoting reedzone:
It's not a wishcast, you guys are soo immature. Why don't you all grow up and stop bashing opinions on here for a change? ey?
I said it is LIKELY Igor will pass WEST of Bermuda.

It may be your opinion but I S.S.S Surely Share it Sir
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Question... going back to the weather and all...

How valid are these tables? (I'm aware of historical inconsistences etc, just a general thought)

Link

It's for ENSO data going back to 1856 from the year 2000.
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Quoting reedzone:


I'd still watch it, but the trough is not looking like it will dig deep enough for it to recurve east of you guys. Being on the west side of the storm is the worst and you should take preparations to a good level.


Reed, wouldn't being on the East side of the storm be the worst? That would put them in the Northeast quadrant. I would think they would like it to go East of them.
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Quoting Floodman:


LOL...I use the ignore list as a protective device...keeps me from suffering "Blog Rage"...


but you miss out on all those opportunities to click the - and ! buttons!! LOL!
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The model consensus looks pretty darn good for Igor.

The CONUS is safe from this one. Doesn't look good for Bermuda.
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StormW, does Igor have hot towers right now within his eyewall.
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Quoting asgolfr999:


If i remember correctly, when you get to 10 you have to start again, although i rather fancy you are keeping score...but of what?


Ahhhhh....never mind, silly me.
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962. JRRP
ECMWF
12z
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961. IKE
Quoting myway:


Now he is tied with 54.


Yeah...another one added to his list.

This tropical season can't end soon enough.

107 days in....
76 to go.
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Quoting StormW:


Kind of.


If i remember correctly, when you get to 10 you have to start again, although i rather fancy you are keeping score...but of what?
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957. flsky
Quoting Krycek1984:


Just because you are respected and generally well-liked in here does not mean you can put meaningless posts down with just a number in them, when everyone else is supposed to follow the board rules. That's arrogant. And no one cares how many people you have on ignore.

+
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2047
956. KYDan
Quoting Hou77083:
Just in case...


Florida takes evasive action!
Quoting Hou77083:
Just in case...


Florida takes evasive action!


Out of the frying pan into the fire. Don't they know they moved right next to the largest volcano in the US, and geologists and vulcanologists expect it to rumble to life at any time?
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Quoting NOLALawyer:
I predict Igor will do a full rotation around Bermunda, with the Island anchoring the eye. Once Bermuda is the new Atlantis, Igor will chug SW..like the Apollo capsule using the Earth's gravity for a slingshot effect, cutting a swath of destruction through central Florida, and drowning Tampa. From there, he will enter the Gulf, where now slightly deflated from his adventures, he will explode into a Cat 5...hugging the Gulf Coast as he decimates everything from Pensacola to Beaumont.

There you have it.

Mark my words.


LOL. Now that is a forecast!
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Quoting BDADUDE:
Good to here that he will miss us to the West.


I'd still watch it, but the trough is not looking like it will dig deep enough for it to recurve east of you guys. Being on the west side of the storm is the worst and you should take preparations to a good level.
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I predict Igor will do a full rotation around Bermunda, with the Island anchoring the eye. Once Bermuda is the new Atlantis, Igor will chug SW..like the Apollo capsule using the Earth's gravity for a slingshot effect, cutting a swath of destruction through central Florida, and drowning Tampa. From there, he will enter the Gulf, where now slightly deflated from his adventures, he will explode into a Cat 5...hugging the Gulf Coast as he decimates everything from Pensacola to Beaumont.

There you have it.

Mark my words.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Whatcha' counting Storm?


Whadda ya bet he is counting "poofs."
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Quoting IKE:


what are the chances (err...odds) of a complete loop and return westward?
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Quoting reedzone:
It's not a wishcast, you guys are soo immature. Why don't you all grow up and stop bashing opinions on here for a change? ey?
I said it is LIKELY Igor will pass WEST of Bermuda.
Good to here that he will miss us to the West.
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hope we are lucky with the gfs system it could be too far north or south to really take off. fingers crossed
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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.