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

Share this Blog
5
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 386 - 336

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66Blog Index

Quoting saltwaterconch:
My daily forecast for the blog .......

Outlandish forecast opinions expected to continue through the night with a high degree of cynicism


Umm; good forcast with tracking and intenisity.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Quoting LouisianaWoman:
Levi--maybe you can answer a question I had for Storm on his blog (but has yet to reply). I have a quick question (though I am sure it won't be quick for you) about Igor and Julias proximity to one another. As per the NHC's projected coordinates, in 96hr Julia and Igor are to be roughly about 1,000 miles from one another. If Igor slows down, or Julia speeds up, could we potentially be looking at a fujiwara effect? If (and I know it's a big IF) this were to occur, what effect would it have on future waves exiting Africa this week, as well as Igors interaction with Bermuda?


I doubt we'll see Fujiwara, but yes they may get rather close and what will be cool is they may both get absorbed into the same extratropical system, which will be interesting to watch. What would be even more interesting is if Julia moves fast, gets northeast of Igor in a hurry, and then takes the trough out while Igor gets left behind, waiting to come farther west before finally recurving west of Bermuda, which would be nice. We'll see how it goes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
382. Prgal
I think this will be interesting to many of you. Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Floridaweathergirl:
I don't see where Dr. M. mentions Igor being a danger to Florida? Does he mean it like it could be a threat for Florida? I don't think so. Igor is headed exactly where the NHC has him going.
Read it again. He references rip currents.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RufusBaker:
I want a major hurricane to hit Tampa but ONLY after Oct 1st so the amphitheatre wont get blown away and the Rush concert gets cancelled...
LOL!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting saltwaterconch:


It would be kool to see because its so rare. Nobody wants to believe itys a possibility because it would affect the forecast track.
I understand they would need to be less than 900 mi. apart and of fairly equal strength. If I am understanding things correctly that scenario is unlikely with these 2 storms.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:


I'd prefer about 2 strong cold fronts to make it through NW Florida by the end of the first week of October and my season will be about finished.

That's only 3 weeks away.

VERY strong cold fronts so they make it all the way to ST Thomas AND there cannot be a storm currently in the Carib/GOM
Wrong way storms do a lot of damage.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Levi--maybe you can answer a question I had for Storm on his blog (but has yet to reply). I have a quick question (though I am sure it won't be quick for you) about Igor and Julias proximity to one another. As per the NHC's projected coordinates, in 96hr Julia and Igor are to be roughly about 1,000 miles from one another. If Igor slows down, or Julia speeds up, could we potentially be looking at a fujiwara effect? If (and I know it's a big IF) this were to occur, what effect would it have on future waves exiting Africa this week, as well as Igors interaction with Bermuda?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormJunkie:
Hey oakland, good to see you. I think you wright it as both and throw in a little suspense and horror as well ;)


Hi SJ. Good to see you're still around too. Could be good. Do you know anyone who could produce it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PcolaDan:


Regardless, still takes funding and they have to pick and choose. I suspect if you were willing to pay for all the trips he would be more than happy to go.


Hey if their paying i want to go, ummm cat 3 or 4 "pass"
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Gfs has been consistent at developing a stong tc but inconsistent at sending it into the Yucatan or Florida from run to run.It should get interesting for all of the Southern GOM in 12-13 days
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TStormSC:
Hi SJ! Good thoughts all.

Shrimping season started yet???


Damn I miss having my 15.5' Scout...
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16549
Quoting IKE:
300 hour 12Z GFS accomplishes 2 things....(1)happy times for some Florida wishcasters and...(2)gets rid of JFV because his electricity will be lost...



Definitely NOT what I want to see. I truly hope it doesn't come to reality.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for Wednesday, September 15th, with Video
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CosmicEvents:
I have. They're close, and forecast to get closer(900 nm). I inquired about it last night in detail...unfortunately no response. But I asked a trained met that I know and he said that though some models are hinting at it...he doubts that it will happen. Oh, and did I say that this met is the kindest, ge..........oh, forget it.


The main problem that I'm aware of is that compared to a normal track, forecasting how two storms will interact with each other is pretty darn hard. I believe this is partially because the interaction is relatively complex, and partially because we have such a small sample size that its kinda hard to find analogous situations. Also, because we don't have a large amount of data to input into models with regard to the Fujiwara effect, they don't seem to do too well with them either.

I do know that just because two storms are close together does not always mean that conditions will become less than favorable for at least one ie. two cat 5s within 1000 miles of each other in the WPAC
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
364. IKE
Quoting kshipre1:
thanks Ike. two questions. First, do you have any insight as to how strong this storm is at this point? Second, am I correct to think that a trough is pulling the low northward towards SW Florida?


Looks like a nice size hurricane. I'd say yes to question #2.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting unf97:
Good day everyone!

Hurricane Igor now sitting on 20 degrees latitude.
right where he was forecast to be 4 days ago by the GFS. When he first formed he was forecast to cross 20N at 50W
Then it jumped to 55W then 60W then back to right near 55W and has held there since, 20N is my "safety" line for my boat. And since the GFS has done an excellent job this year I'm going back to St Thomas in some nice big rolly seas. But next time I will follow my own advice even though I REALLY like to play it safe with the boat.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi SJ! Good thoughts all.

Shrimping season started yet???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey oakland, good to see you. I think you wright it as both and throw in a little suspense and horror as well ;)
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16549
My daily forecast for the blog .......

Outlandish forecast opinions expected to continue through the night with a high degree of cynicism
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:
300 hour 12Z GFS accomplishes 2 things....(1)happy times for some Florida wishcasters and...(2)gets rid of JFV because his electricity will be lost...


That is the same week the MIL is in town for a visit...pass the Xanax, Ike!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting OctoberToRemember:


You see? No storm in the GOM.


This is the trolling behavior I HATE!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
357. IKE
Quoting BobinTampa:


nice. How big is that storm on the shower curtain scale?


10 on a scale of 1 to 5.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
thanks Ike. two questions. First, do you have any insight as to how strong this storm is at this point? Second, am I correct to think that a trough is pulling the low northward towards SW Florida?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
354. xcool
gfs flip-flopping.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
353. IKE
Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:

speaking of which, what is his new handle, i havent seen him lately


See posts above^^^
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting StormJunkie:


Oh, it was a scene man! Non the less, some very good friendships were still formed in those early days. And many of us that use to not get a long so well, or play so nice together now respect each other. It's been a fun ride thus far, and I have not intentions of jumping off.

And then throw in 'Tunnels" & "WRITTEN IN STONE". I wish I could get an unmodified copy of the archives. Talk about a made for Hollywood drama... :)


I rarely post, especially these days, but I have been around for the "Tunnels" and "WRITTEN IN STONE". They were interesting days and nights and you're right they would make for Hollywood drama or comedy depending on how you write it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:
300 hour 12Z GFS accomplishes 2 things....(1)happy times for some Florida wishcasters and...(2)gets rid of JFV because his electricity will be lost...



nice. How big is that storm on the shower curtain scale?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurricanes101:


I know I agree about where it develops it, was just saying that it appears the system by the CV Islands develops first


Gotchya. Yea, SW Atlantic, Caribbean, and GOM will become the primary developmental areas from here on out. I believe Igor will be the last CV storm that makes it past 60 West.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
347. IKE
Quoting OctoberToRemember:


Ike, seriously though, under the depicted pattern by the GFS, the panhandle wouldn't have to worry about Lisa? Only Southern Florida would, correct? Or no?


Yeah...I'd be okay with that track.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:
300 hour 12Z GFS accomplishes 2 things....(1)happy times for some Florida wishcasters and...(2)gets rid of JFV because his electricity will be lost...


speaking of which, what is his new handle, i havent seen him lately
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
345. IKE
Quoting kshipre1:
Ike,

sorry for the dumb question but is the purple L near Cuba and not Florida? Is there something I am missing here? It seems like the L is in the caribbean. thanks


The map I posted, the low is headed for SW Florida.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:


I'd prefer about 2 strong cold fronts to make it through NW Florida by the end of the first week of October and my season will be about finished.

That's only 3 weeks away.


No, Ike! I have some cherry tomato seedlings that somehow managed to plant themselves...They need a bit more time so I can get a second crop.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ike,

sorry for the dumb question but is the purple L near Cuba and not Florida? Is there something I am missing here? It seems like the L is in the caribbean. thanks
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
340. IKE
Quoting OctoberToRemember:


^_^. Which outcome would you prefer, Ike? A Fl landfall, yay.


I'd prefer about 2 strong cold fronts to make it through NW Florida by the end of the first week of October and my season will be about finished.

That's only 3 weeks away.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting kshipre1:
I hope a trough does not come and swing down otherwise South Florida and SW Florida better lookout
If said trough is in the market to buy a few houses he'll be most welcome.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chucktown:


If that is something that comes from Cape Verde, it will be a lot more developed than that by the time it reaches the Caribbean. Like 1900 Hurricane says (post 303), it just may be something that forms out of the ITCZ or something monsoonal like Karl.


I know I agree about where it develops it, was just saying that it appears the system by the CV Islands develops first
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 386 - 336

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.