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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736. IKE
Quoting help4u:
Hate to say it Ike but end of month looks bad for Gulf states.


I'm not convinced...yet. GFS shows a system, but the other 3 models I follow don't yet.


Quoting sporteguy03:


GFS is good at sniffing these systems out first though might be out performing ECMWF this year?


It could be.
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Indeed, the GFS does have a knack of sniffing out systems especially when it becomes very consistent.
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734. JLPR2
you can kinda see the new eyewall, the little one is going to disappear soon.

Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8733
GOM IR Loop dee Loop

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Quoting saltwaterconch:
wow!! this blog is "heating up" worse than the tropics. BTW I guess freedom of speech does not apply to this blog. so many deleted posts. Yet so many direct attack posts remain.


you are right. sorry for what I post.
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Quoting IKE:
I don't see a system on the 12Z ECMWF cruising through the Caribbean Sea...through Sept. 25th. Looks like it's at odds with the GFS.

CMC and NOGAPS don't really spin anything significant in the Caribbean Sea the next 6-7 days.


GFS is good at sniffing these systems out first though might be out performing ECMWF this year?
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CajunTexan; That was ummm To Fun.

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Quoting NASA101:


Both Euro and GFS develop a system off the african coast and recurves them around east of 40-50W!
The storm in the Caribbean that GFS is picking upon is most likely coming out of the ITZC south of 10N around 30-40W - all kinds of voriticty associated with ITZC currently! Levi pointed this out in his video earlier today! EURO so far hasn't latched on to this entity yet! 12Z HWRF however has!


12Z EURO doesn't recurve the system yet, it shows Igor moving away as a ridge builds over the potential system. That's what I see on the run.
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Hate to say it Ike but end of month looks bad for Gulf states.
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Quoting TheDawnAwakening:
Link

Convective explosion engulfing his eye now this is confirming the latest obs of an EWRC.


yep, it's going to come out a far larger and stronger hurricane than it is now
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
Quoting angiest:


Missed a parenthesis. It has that reputation, but was probably confused with real alligators, who share the same waters.

true they are not "maneaters" however they are quite unnerving to share the same water with.
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I have seen some people say that the GFS long range points to a florida hit, while all I have seen is a Northern to central texas hit. Am I missing something?
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723. IKE
Today's 6 day HPC...shows a wave entering the eastern Caribbean...




Day 7 doesn't show anything down there....

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Quoting augfan:


Seriously doubt that, too narrow a snout. Zillion sharp teeth, use shark gear for that, fights like a marlin, runs to 7 feet, not eatable by humans, dates to Jurassic Era. Loops are good but I catch on floating bass plugs.
Lots of fun, will wreck gear.
Not eatable by humans? Tell that to a Cajun! Actually, I hear that they aren't that bad to eat, but eat small ones around 2 to 3 feet. However, they are a pain to clean. Like trying to cut through concrete!
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Link

Convective explosion engulfing his eye now this is confirming the latest obs of an EWRC.
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Interesting ... note that it holds Igor at 20N moving west until tomorrow morning (Eastern), perhaps later in the day. That much westward motion may make the track start to look more Earl-like. I'll be interested to see what the next 00Z looks like.

Recall that earlier in the week CMC, GFS and Navy were agreeing on holding Igor south of 20W until Thursday or Friday (steering patterns at E Wall). Might yet play out.


I am wondering if this isn't a result of Julia's deepening. Looks like she helps the ridge bulge a little more west. Keeping Igor on a NW course for at least another day or so.
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Quoting augfan:


Seriously doubt that, too narrow a snout. Zillion sharp teeth, use shark gear for that, fights like a marlin, runs to 7 feet, not eatable by humans, dates to Jurassic Era. Loops are good but I catch on floating bass plugs.
Lots of fun, will wreck gear.


Missed a parenthesis. It has that reputation, but was probably confused with real alligators, who share the same waters.
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Quoting IKE:


Euro goes out to 240 hours.

Here's the GFS at 168 hours...



Both Euro and GFS develop a system off the african coast and recurves them around east of 40-50W!
The storm in the Caribbean that GFS is picking upon is most likely coming out of the ITZC south of 10N around 30-40W - all kinds of voriticty associated with ITZC currently! Levi pointed this out in his video earlier today! EURO so far hasn't latched on to this entity yet! 12Z HWRF however has!
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Our totals so far...

11,5,4

Clearly amazing and more to come!! My count REMAINS at 18,9,5

I might have to bump the majors up to 6-7 since it is September and we are already at 4 majors.
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Quoting angiest:


It's a freshwater fish. One in particular, the Alligator Gar, has a reputation (probably undeserved as a man-eater.


Seriously doubt that, too narrow a snout. Zillion sharp teeth, use shark gear for that, fights like a marlin, runs to 7 feet, not eatable by humans, dates to Jurassic Era. Loops are good but I catch on floating bass plugs.
Lots of fun, will wreck gear.
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Interesting ECMWF showing the formation of another system in the EATL. The model also shows low pressures in the Western Caribbean, a hotspot for tropical cyclone development this season. Definitely could be hints of the possibility of storm formation in the Central or Western Caribbean in the long-range.


Rather difficult to ignore the run to run consistency of the GFS model for storm formation in the Caribbean.
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The dry air that punched his core last night could have helped Igor start an EWRC and appears to be occurring with the eye becoming obscured from view and is filling. Also there is a secondary convective maximum developing away from the original eyewall. This should take another 12 hours or so to complete and Igor should have the ability to intensify back into a solid 145mph hurricane, I think he reached his peak last night.
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712. IKE
Quoting angiest:


I think the Caribbean development (per GFS) is still a tad out of Euro's range.


Euro goes out to 240 hours.

Here's the GFS at 168 hours...

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Quoting StormW:
Appears Igor will pass well south of the next TFP


...while Julia will pass way north and east of the next forecast point! :)
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


This little fella. They've been hunted to extinction in many states. But they're not as bad as some think.



I caught 1 once. We were boating and spotted a jug line zip across the water at about 20 knots. we we circled around and brought it up. The GAR was about as big as the one pictured. Of course we let it go.
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708. JLPR2
Quoting HurricaneGeek:


His eye has gotten a lot lot lot smaller in the past coupe of frames.


It will probably contract till it collapses.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8733
Quoting HurricaneGeek:


His eye has gotten a lot lot lot smaller in the past coupe of frames.


the eye should be engulfed and fall apart, the bigger eye is taking over
Member Since: April 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1753
Quoting IKE:
I don't see system on the 12Z ECMWF cruising through the Caribbean Sea...through Sept. 25th. Looks like it's at odds with the GFS.

CMC and NOGAPS don't really spin anything significant in the Caribbean Sea the next 6-7 days.


I think the Caribbean development (per GFS) is still a tad out of Euro's range.
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:


Ahhhh. I see.
like this?

That looks pretty man-eaterish to me!
You want to see some big Alligator Gar, then go to www.garguys.com, these fish are all caught in the Trinity River, north of Lake Livingston in Southeast Texas. Amazing! Some pretty big gators on there as well!
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Quoting StormW:
Appears Igor will pass well south of the next TFP


His eye has gotten a lot lot lot smaller in the past coupe of frames.
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:


Ahhhh. I see.
like this?

That looks pretty man-eaterish to me!


Yep.
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Quoting StormW:
Appears Igor will pass well south of the next TFP


Indeed, and by an appreciable distance
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I don't see Igor going too far south of 20n, it seems to be going still WNW.
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Looks south of next TFP RIGHT NOW but the way it's stair stepping it's hard to tell if it'll stay south of it or not...at least that's how it looks on the rainbow floater.
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698. IKE
I don't see a system on the 12Z ECMWF cruising through the Caribbean Sea...through Sept. 25th. Looks like it's at odds with the GFS.

CMC and NOGAPS don't really spin anything significant in the Caribbean Sea the next 6-7 days.
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Quoting BreadandCircuses:



Yeah, 847 miles from Orange, TX to El Paso.


he drove 847 miles in 7 hours? is that legal?
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696. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #9
TROPICAL STORM FANAPI (T1011)
3:00 AM JST September 16 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In Sea South Of Okinawa

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Fanapi (994 hPa) located at 20.9N 127.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as almost stationary

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Gale Force Winds
================
150 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant
100 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 21.9N 128.1E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 23.1N 126.9E - 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
72 HRS: 23.8N 123.6E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
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Quoting StormW:
Appears Igor will pass well south of the next TFP


He almost appears to have stalled the last few frames. But the eye is very hard to see.
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Quoting StormW:
Appears Igor will pass well south of the next TFP


I like the EURO run, I just don't agree with the ultra sharp recurvature that it's showing. Though I like how far west it goes, then turns north, That's been my thinking all along if the storm were to recurve.
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Igor is going through a restructuring of his inner core and this will likely take another 12 hours.
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Quoting IKE:
12Z ECMWF...


Interesting ... note that it holds Igor at 20N moving west until tomorrow morning (Eastern), perhaps later in the day. That much westward motion may make the track start to look more Earl-like. I'll be interested to see what the next 00Z looks like.

Recall that earlier in the week CMC, GFS and Navy were agreeing on holding Igor south of 20W until Thursday or Friday (steering patterns at E Wall). Might yet play out.
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Hope you guys enjoyed it!
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:


jajaja yeah.. I though you were going to say ...in the same COUNTY.. =)

came to study gar? what's that?


This little fella. They've been hunted to extinction in many states. But they're not as bad as some think.

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Quoting angiest:


It's a freshwater fish. One in particular, the Alligator Gar, has a reputation (probably undeserved as a man-eater.


Ahhhh. I see.
like this?

That looks pretty man-eaterish to me!
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Quoting vince1966:
So when can Mobile, Al expect a Hurricane? someone mentioned a possible threat in the coming weeks. I need one by October 17th.


And I don't!!!
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Quoting breald:



Apparently Florida will be getting some action soon. Plus the personal safety is a huge concern in some places in Mexico.

Take care where ever you guys go and I will tune into the next broadcast.


Thanks for the kind words...tune in anytime...the website is always open...
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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.