Karl hits the Yucatan; two simultaneous Cat 4s in the Atlantic for 2nd time in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:37 PM GMT on September 15, 2010

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The Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 kicked into high gear this morning, with the landfall of Tropical Storm Karl in Mexico, and the simultaneous presence of two Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, Igor and Julia. Tropical Storm Karl's formation yesterday marked the fifth earliest date that an eleventh named storm of the season has formed. The only years more active this early in the season were 2005, 1995, 1936 and 1933. This morning's unexpected intensification of Hurricane Julia into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds has set a new record--Julia is now the strongest hurricane on record so far east. When one considers that earlier this year, Hurricane Earl became the fourth strongest hurricane so far north, it appears that this year's record SSTs have significantly expanded the area over which major hurricanes can exist over the Atlantic. This morning is just the second time in recorded history that two simultaneous Category 4 or stronger storms have occurred in the Atlantic. The only other occurrence was on 06 UTC September 16, 1926, when the Great Miami Hurricane and Hurricane Four were both Category 4 storms for a six-hour period. The were also two years, 1999 and 1958, when we missed having two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes by six hours. Julia's ascension to Category 4 status makes it the 4th Category 4 storm of the year. Only two other seasons have had as many as five Category 4 or stronger storms (2005 and 1999), so 2010 ranks in 3rd place in this statistic. This year is also the earliest a fourth Category 4 or stronger storm has formed (though the fourth Category 4 of 1999, Hurricane Gert, formed just 3 hours later on today's date in 1999.) We've also had four Cat 4+ storms in just twenty days, which beats the previous record for shortest time span for four Cat 4+ storms to appear. The previous record was 1999, 24 days (thanks to Phil Klozbach of CSU for this stat.)


Figure 1. A rare double feature: two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, for only the second time in recorded history.

Karl
Tropical Storm Karl made landfall as a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds and a central pressure of 991 mb at 8:45am EDT this morning on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, just north of the Belize border. Karl took advantage of nearly ideal conditions for intensification, and in just fifteen hours intensified from a tropical disturbance to a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds. Had Karl managed to get its act together just one day earlier, it could have been a major hurricane at landfall this morning. Fortunately, Karl has a relatively small area of strong winds--tropical storm force winds extend out just 45 miles from the center of the storm, and wind damage is not the main concern. Heavy rains are the main concern, and Belize radar shows heavy rain bands from Karl spreading ashore over northern Belize near the border with Mexico. Cancun radar shows that heavy rains are relatively limited, though, near the tourist havens of Cancun and Cozumel.


Figure 2. Radar image of Karl at landfall this morning near the northern Belize/Mexican border. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Forecast for Karl
Karl will traverse the Yucatan Peninsula today and emerge into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche Thursday morning as a much weakened tropical storm, with perhaps 40 - 45 mph top winds. Once in the Gulf, conditions for intensification are ideal, with wind shear is expected to be low, 5 - 10 knots, SSTs will be warm, 29°C - 30°C, and the atmosphere very moist. These conditions, combined with the topography of the surrounding coast which tends to enhance counter-clockwise flow, should allow Karl to intensify into a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall between Tampico and Vercruz, Mexico on Saturday morning. However, since Karl is a small storm, it is possible that passage over the Yucatan will disrupt the storm enough so that it will be much weaker. The ridge of high pressure steering Karl westwards is quite strong, and it is very unlikely that the storm will turn northwest and hit Texas. NHC is giving Brownsville, Texas, an 10% chance of receiving tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph.

Igor
Hurricane Igor put on a burst of intensification last night to put it at its strongest yet, a top-end Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds. Igor has weakened slightly this morning, but remains a formidable presence in the Central Atlantic with its 145 mph winds. Igor continues to show the classic appearance of a major hurricane on satellite imagery, with a well-formed eye, symmetrical cloud pattern, plenty of low-level spiral bands, and solid upper-level outflow on all sides.


Figure 3. Hurricane Igor as captured at 18 UTC Tuesday September 14, 2010, from the International Space Station. Image credit: Douglas Wheelock, NASA.

Intensity forecast for Igor
Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and is expected to remain low for the next 2 - 3 days. Waters are warm, 29°C, and will remain 29°C for the next 2 - 3 days. Igor is well armored against any intrusions of dry air for at least the next three days. These conditions should allow Igor to remain at major hurricane status for the next three days. The hurricane will probably undergo one of the usual eyewall replacement cycles intense hurricanes commonly have, where the eyewall collapses and a new eyewall forms from an outer spiral band. This will weaken the hurricane by 10 - 20 mph when it occurs, and may be responsible for the 10 mph weakening Igor experienced early this morning. Igor may regain its lost intensity over the next 36 hours. By Saturday morning, 36 hours before the core of Igor is expected to pass Bermuda's latitude, the trough of low pressure steering Igor northwestwards should bring moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots to the storm, weakening it. The SHIPS models predicts shear will rise to the high range, 20 - 30 knots, during the final 24 hours of the storm's approach to Bermuda. Igor will also be tracking over cooler 28°C waters during this period, and substantial weakening by perhaps 20 - 30 mph can be expected. Igor will still probably be at least a Category 2 hurricane on its closest pass by Bermuda on Sunday. NHC is giving Bermuda a 13% chance of experiencing hurricane force winds from Igor, but this probability is likely too low. The Bermuda Weather Service is calling for Category 1 or 2 hurricane conditions for the island on Sunday, with 20 - 25 foot waves in the offshore waters.

Track forecast for Igor
The track forecast for Igor remains unchanged. Igor has made its long-anticipated turn to the west-northwest, in response to the steering influence of a broad trough of low pressure moving across the Western Atlantic. This trough will steer Igor several hundred miles to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and high waves should be the only impact of Igor on the islands. Igor appears likely to be a threat to Bermuda, and that island can expect tropical storm force winds as early as Saturday. Igor will be moving at about 12 - 15 mph as it approaches Bermuda. Tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph will probably extend out about 250 miles to the north of Igor on Saturday, so Bermuda can expect 18 hours of tropical storm force winds before the core of Igor makes its closest pass. In all, Bermuda is likely to experience a very long pounding of 24 - 36 hours with winds in excess of tropical storm force.

The models have been in substantial agreement over multiple runs that Igor will miss the U.S. East Coast, and the danger to the U.S. will probably only come in the form of high waves. Large swells from Igor have arrived in the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and will spread westwards over the next few days, reaching the U.S. East Coast on Friday. By Saturday, much of the East Coast from northern Florida to Cape Cod Massachusetts can expect waves of 3 - 4 meters (10 - 13 feet), causing dangerous rip currents and significant beach erosion. These waves will continue through Sunday then gradually die down. The latest NOAA marine forecast for Cape Hatteras, North Carolina calls for 8 - 10 foot waves on Saturday, and 9 - 12 foot waves on Sunday.

Igor may pass very close to Newfoundland, Canada, but it is too early too assess the likelihood of this happening.

Julia
Hurricane Julia put on a remarkable and unexpected burst of intensification this morning to become the season's fourth Category 4 storm. Julia's 135 mph winds make it the strongest hurricane on record so far east; the previous record was held by the eighth storm of 1926 which was only a 120 mph Category 3 hurricane at Julia's current longitude. Julia's intensification was a surprise, since SSTs in the region are about 27.5°C, which is just 1°C above the threshold needed to sustain a Category 1 hurricane. Julia is headed northwest, out to sea, and it is unlikely that this storm will trouble any land areas. SSTs will steadily cool to 26.5°C today, and further intensification today is unlikely. Shear will be moderate, 10 - 20 knots, over Julia during the next two days, then rise sharply to 30 knots 3 - 5 days from now, as Julia moves within 1000 miles of Igor and begins to experience strong northwesterly winds from her big brother's upper level outflow. This should substantially weaken Julia.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The GFS and ECMWF models develop a new tropical depression a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa 3 - 6 days from now. The GFS also develops a tropical depression in the eastern Caribbean 6 - 7 days from now.

Portlight's 2-year anniversary
On September 14, 2008, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike on Texas and Louisiana moved members of the wunderground community to put into action their own impromptu relief effort. From this humble beginning has grown a disaster-relief charity I have been proud to support--Portlight.org. We've been blessed this hurricane season with relatively few landfalling storms, so Portlight's new disaster relief trailer (Figure 4), financed with a $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, has yet to be deployed. With five weeks of peak hurricane season still to come, the new trailer may yet get a call to action. The mobile kitchen in the trailer will be able to feed several hundred people per day, and the trailer is equipped with portable ramps to help with shelter accessibility, as well as durable medical equipment to facilitate mobility and independence for survivors. The trailer is mobile, and Portlight is willing to load it up and fly it to Bermuda, if Igor ends up making a mess there!

The lack of landfalling storms has allowed Portlight to continue to concentrate their efforts on Haiti, where their assistance has been a tremendous boost for those most in need, the disabled. Portlight is working on constructing steel shelters out of shipping containers for homeless Haitians, as detailed in the Haitian Relief Recap blog post. Please visit the Portlight.org web site or the Portlight blog to learn more and donate. A few other items of note:

Portlight has been able to facilitate providing assistance to people with disabilities in Pakistan, where the worst natural disaster in their history has left 4 million homeless. While not directly involved in delivering relief, Portlight has been able to connect local Disabled People's Organizations with important sources of food, water, filtration systems, and medical equipment.

ABC News4 in Charleston broadcast a story about the Portlight relief trailer, and Portlight has also been featured on the Pacifica Radio Network.

Portlight launched a quarterly newsletter, The Portlight View, which can be seen on the newly redesigned website.


Figure 4. The new Portlight disaster relief trailer, funded by their $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Lol. Where can we hide Texas?


Maybe under Rhode Island? =) lol
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Quoting Hou77083:
Just in case...


Florida takes evasive action!


Lol. Where can we hide Texas?
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


that looks like it is more like 55.1 19.9


Not really. jajaja =)
Just look where the eye is. It's clearly east of 55.
The 19.9, yeah that's possible, but to me it is DEFINITELY east of 55, and a tad south of 19.9.
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Quoting notverylikely:


What part of my postt is incorrect?


What year did you take that picture in your avatar? Cool pic.
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Quoting JLPR2:


And a bigger eye would probably mean a bigger storm.


yes, its a very large storm as it is, but the eastern side is actually dry, the western side is moist.

It would be much larger if there wasn't any dry air on its eastern side, if you look at visible the eastern circulation extends all the way to the antilles, it's growing, and if the eye becomes that large, it could really deviate a bit
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IGOR's path so far and never will tread across the TCHPs of more than 80 and yet it managed to intensify to almost a Cat-5! Just goes to show that you don't necessarily require the highest SSTs nor TCHP to get these things going - also need favorable thermodynamical environment which both IGOR and Julia currently have!

Now imagine these entities getting in to the Caribbean where you have TCHPs over 140 - given the right environmental conditions it spells trouble for the next 6 weeks!!!!
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:
Good afternoon.

Igor seems to be at 54.7 and 19.7 this afternoon.

link


that looks like it is more like 55.1 19.9
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


And you're on here why? As stupid and irrational as the above statement is you really need to be on the moron blog...


What part of my postt is incorrect?
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Good afternoon.

Igor seems to be at 54.7 and 19.7 this afternoon.

link
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622. JLPR2
Quoting leo305:


if you look at visible you could see there is sinking air around that little eye, indicating a very large eye is forming


And a bigger eye would probably mean a bigger storm.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8526
Quoting leo305:


if you look at visible you could see there is sinking air around that little eye, indicating a very large eye is forming


I see it but there is still a very strong convective burst around that small eye there I wonder if that is in reference to the new eyewall forming
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CURRENT ESTIMATE
Date (yyyymmddhh): 2010091510
SATCON (2mem): MSLP = 939 hPa MSW = 119 kt
ADT: 939 hPa 125 kt Scene: EYE
CIMSS AMSU: 942 hPa 114 kt Bias Corr: -17 (IR)
CIRA AMSU: NA hPa NA kt Tmax: NA
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Too much TC activity in the ATL basin... now the caribbean is very dry overall
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
it looks to me that the eye of Igor is becomeing better defined... along with a cooling of the eyewall ... -80 cloudtops are seen on IR


if you look at visible you could see there is sinking air around that little eye, indicating a very large eye is forming
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Quoting JRRP:



Hope Karl can sling one or two of those outer rain bands up to the Mobile area, we could use the rain!
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Quoting breald:


Charlie was a pretty small but a strong storm.


Charley was a little firecracker...more like bomb!
Hurricane Charley
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612. JRRP

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CURRENT ESTIMATE
Date (yyyymmddhh): 2010091507
SATCON (2mem): MSLP = 991 hPa MSW = 58 kt
ADT: 982 hPa 72 kt Scene: UNFRM
CIMSS AMSU: 993 hPa 54 kt Bias Corr: 0 (TPC)
CIRA AMSU: NA hPa NA kt Tmax: NA
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it looks to me that the eye of Igor is becomeing better defined... along with a cooling of the eyewall ... -80 cloudtops are seen on IR
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IGOR has grown so large that it's tapping energy from south america
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


LMAO!! no no this season every system that was classified, deserved to be classified. Heck there are even a few invests that many felt could have been a TD or TS that were never upgraded

Padding numbers? What a joke!! LMAO


+100
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Quoting saltwaterconch:

not yet but with julia moving at 14 and igor at 8 its afoot race that julia is winning
Yes, this would be interesting to see in a few days. Assuming present speed, Julia would gain 600 miles closer to Igor in about 100 hours from now (just over 4 days time) and would put it within about 900-1000 miles of each other. They are about 1500 miles apart, eye to eye. But this also assumes that they are moving on the same directional line. Julia is going NW and Igor WNW. Interesting.
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Igor is forming a very very large eye
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We are currently pinned between the high pressure system just to the north and the outflow of Karl. Getting occasional gusts...with the instability it's possible to spawn a waterspout out of this. NO SAILING! =(
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603. Jax82
Yikes!
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600. Jax82
Yikes!
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Quoting RayRayfromLa:
seems like there are bloggers that cant wait to see a GOM hurricane!!!! In a way that is a sick kind of mind when all knowing the devastation to land, people etc. will happen.
just saying.


+10
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Quoting P451:
I don't know about some of the Hurricane historians on here but I have a hard time accepting storm totals and storm intensities that go back to years prior to weather satellites that could cover the entire Atlantic basin.

While there are ship records and of course landfalling records of such systems and estimations of their intensities (probably better than you might expect) you have to question if one storm was reported as two by two separate ships or land masses or if a storm was never seen that did exist or even a storm they thought was a big one that brushed a ship or island or landmass but really wasn't what they thought?

There are too many factors involved going back prior to the age of satellites and heavy naval military and shipping presence for me to believe the record keeping beyond a specific time period.

This is why I feel that when we try to compare seasons and develop a record book I think when someone says "Most active season ever." the verbiage ought to be changed to "Most active season since the dawn of the satellite age" or something to that effect - perhaps substitute a specific year.



Dr. Neil Frank (former director of NHC, former chief meterologist with KHOU in Houston) would tend to agree with you.

Let's look at this year. Is it conceivable that Bonnie, Colin, Fiona, Gaston, and Julia would have been missed without satellites? Bonnie *may* have been classed at landfall, but it was such a weak system that it could have been misinterpreted. Similarly, Colin died and reformed and except for any impact it may have had to Bermuda, may have been missed. Gaston, open Atlantic. Julia, way too far east. Fiona was in Earl's propwash. Danielle may even have been missed, was Bermuda's impact enough to realize there had been a major out there? What about Igor? Would we know about his presence yet?
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Quoting CajunTexan:
Tropical Rhyme of the day


Nicely done.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
596. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15626
Just in case...


Florida takes evasive action!
Member Since: July 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 110
Quoting DookiePBC:
I'm hoping to add another season to my perfect record. I've lived in South Florida for 9 hurricane seasons now and have yet to feel the effects of one. Didn't live here in 2004 or 2005. My shutters are collecting dust and I'm hoping to keep it that way! :-)
Don't jinx us!! I am a native and have been through every landfalling hurricane since 1969. My shutters have lots of gecko poopies on them.
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Quoting notverylikely:


Not going to Bermuda for Igor or Tampico for Karl, huh??? So you guys are just thunderstorm chasers...not really hurricane chasers. Got it!!


Feel free to get on the website, click the Donate button and fund the trips to Bermuda and Tampico and we'll be there with bells on...if we ain't got the funds then we ain't goin! Sorry about your lack of insight...
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Tropical Rhyme of the day


Two Cat 4's in the East Atlantic sea,
For only the 2nd time in known tropical history,
And if that wasnt enough to make the blog come undone,
One did it farther east than any other has ever done,
If that wasnt enough to get Julia a mention,
Her RI was sure to get our attention,
The argument of the day taking shape already,
Which way is Igor headed, is it a wobble or is the motion steady,
How far W will he traverse is surely soon to follow,
Its a never ending debate that cant be settled before tomorrow,
Karl is trucking across the Yucatan,
How much will he have left after his interaction with land,
Once he emerges in the Gulf with steamy waters and the shear is low,
It seems a Hurricane is in store for Mexico.




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I think Igor was just named to pad numbers...you know


jk lol
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Quoting P451:
I don't know about some of the Hurricane historians on here but I have a hard time accepting storm totals and storm intensities that go back to years prior to weather satellites that could cover the entire Atlantic basin.

While there are ship records and of course landfalling records of such systems and estimations of their intensities (probably better than you might expect) you have to question if one storm was reported as two by two separate ships or land masses or if a storm was never seen that did exist or even a storm they thought was a big one that brushed a ship or island or landmass but really wasn't what they thought?

There are too many factors involved going back prior to the age of satellites and heavy naval military and shipping presence for me to believe the record keeping beyond a specific time period.

This is why I feel that when we try to compare seasons and develop a record book I think when someone says "Most active season ever." the verbiage ought to be changed to "Most active season since the dawn of the satellite age" or something to that effect - perhaps substitute a specific year.

I think you know I'm with you on that...

For example, ACE is hugely dependent on the radii of certain wind speeds in multiple directions. Even when there was recon-only, tough to just accept the radius of 50 knot winds in all directions without SFMR, which would still only give the flight path. And the flight-level to surface wind calculation has been shown to be highly variable, from 60% to 90% depending on the storm's developments, portion of the storm, etc.
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Quoting tacoman:
pensecola doug is it al all possible for brian to go into tampico and cover karl if he is a cat 3 hurricane...this would be the first if he could get in there...are you guys planning that if this develops...


no....too dangerous...drug cartels and other unsavory elements...we already went thru it all during the Alex chase...sorry...
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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.