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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286. weld
Looks like the the season has peaked with eleven storms. Possibly have one or two more. The season looks to be slightly above average at best. This will give insurance companies a reason to raise rate like they need one.
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So, if one speeds up or one slows down we could potentially witness FE?
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
See post 222....and afterwards perhaps it's time for a game of solitaire....


Nah no solitaire for me. You are way to deep for a weather blog. Lighten up. ooops LOLLOLOL.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


Must be the new dapper look.
LOL, I was thinking the same.
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Why is it that EVERYDAY I come in here, there is some conversation about StormW????????????? It's ridiculous! I think I'll stick to night shift.

The models handled Karl pretty well, not developing him until Yucatan. Kudos.
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I volunteer to the blog's target all day. Let me get a few of these out of the way...

"The models are right!"
"The models are wrong!"
"The NHC stinks!"
"Its going right for Florida!"
"Here is my projected path"(with a map going right over my house)
"Is that a pinehole eye?"
"Its a fish storm"
"Here is the 897th posting of the TWO"
"Here is a posting for every single model run"

Ok, fire away.
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277. JLPR2
Quoting DestinJeff:


here we are at +138.

As you can clearly see, Igor spared both the CONUS and Bermuda, as thet remain depicted on the map.



Looks like a negative NAO
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276. IKE
Quoting LouisianaWoman:
In 96hr, they expect Igor to be at 30n/65w and they expect Julia to be at 31.5n/50w. How many miles difference does that put them at?


About 1,000 miles.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting LakelandNana:
Now that I have recovered from my blog wound, is it safe to repeat my original question?

The models indicate a storm near TX/LA on or near Sept.26, is that the same storm indicated yesterday on the GFS run that was near SWFL?


Can we get a model run for Oct 31. I want to know how Halloween is looking, tropics-wise.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


That is pretty cool. SmileyCentral.com


looks like your secret may be moving a lil tho, You better get a handle on it
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273. Prgal
Quoting DestinJeff:


Dewey.


I am sorry, what do you mean by that?
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272. IKE
Quoting OctoberToRemember:
please hit Florida.


Please find another hobby...less stressful and damaging.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Now that I have recovered from my blog wound, is it safe to repeat my original question?

The models indicate a storm near TX/LA on or near Sept.26, is that the same storm indicated yesterday on the GFS run that was near SWFL?
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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...


I cant see it Taco. However, Oz may have a different idea.
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In 96hr, they expect Igor to be at 30n/65w and they expect Julia to be at 31.5n/50w. How many miles difference does that put them at?
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Quoting will40:


ty Stef yea it is all working so far thanks to out secret hee hee


That is pretty cool. SmileyCentral.com
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Quoting breald:


Bob is that you?? J/K...LOL.

I agree I watch is videos as well as Levi and read stromW post. Too much information is never a bad thing.
See post 222....and afterwards perhaps it's time for a game of solitaire....
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1025 CST
Conditions at Consejo, Belize

Wind is S to ESE 50+mph (Wind is now coming directly off Chetumal Bay) Gust are 10-15mph greater than the sustained winds.

Steady lite rain, lots of thunder, and it is getting much darker.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Is it still okay to posts GFS images here?



Only on "GFS Wednesdays"...you got lucky!
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257. Prgal
Quoting eyesontheweather:
I got an idea...Read his blog and ask questions there. As for StormW you have been a great teacher & show a great deal of information with reasoning incl at numerous times on this blog and always on your blog. However and I believe this blog has come to a point where numerous people are hiding away because how shall we say......"what does it say about a person who argues with the mindless"...Anway, StormW Keep up the great work and service you provide. I appreciate you!


I agree with you 100% and its a shame that this blog has changed so much. Well, its not really the blog, its the bloggers. I appreciate Storm's imput and will continue to read his synopsis daily. Its sad to see so many "wannabes" here.
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pensacoladoug:

You seem to remember a storm back in the '30s?! Wow you're old!
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
BOB is Weatherguy03. And he is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. You can click on his name(Weatherguy03) to watch his video blog.


Bob is that you?? J/K...LOL.

I agree I watch is videos as well as Levi and read stromW post. Too much information is never a bad thing.
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Quoting angiest:


The key is that GFS has been pretty consistent developing this system. (multiple runs over several days). That is a pretty good indication, based on recent history, that something may, in fact, form. Ignore tracks and intensities, those will vary too much this far out. But the formation of the system seems more likely as time goes on.


I'm with you I've seen them hold on to the formation of this storm, whatever the track may be. Hopefully drop it at the end of this run. Lol. That would be better than the last run for us. But it'll probably be something closer to home and not on anybody's radar that'll get our attention next. This season has had a few surprises already. :)
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Quoting DestinJeff:


Yes, they did the blog well with that. All should agree.

Did you happen to catch my drum solo at the end?
I see the charm is slowly working it's magic.
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251. srada
Quoting DestinJeff:


here we are at +138.

As you can clearly see, Igor spared both the CONUS and Bermuda, as thet remain depicted on the map.



Post #3 about weather..you are on a roll
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Quoting eyesontheweather:
I got an idea...Read his blog and ask questions there. As for StormW you have been a great teacher & show a great deal of information with reasoning incl at numerous times on this blog and always on your blog. However and I believe this blog has come to a point where numerous people are hiding away because how shall we say......"what does it say about a person who argues with the mindless"...Anway, StormW Keep up the great work and service you provide. I appreciate you!

I appreciate his forecasts, and his engagement. I offered one specific complaint - his tendency to offer dismissive single-word responses to posts he deems unworthy of serious engagement. I don't think I'm alone in being bothered by that.

I certainly hope that he will continue to offer his skill and insight in his forecasts, as well as in this comments section. I don't see those as mutually exclusive positions.
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Igor and Julia wouldnt have an effect on each other steering wise being that close in proximity?
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The 1858 San Diego hurricane was a very rare California hurricane. It is the only known tropical cyclone to impact California as a hurricane, although other systems impacted California as tropical storms.



Link
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

The weakening flag is off but the Rapid-Dissipation flag is on? Whaaa...?


that is because the rapid dissipation flag has 3 levels

off--Sat estimated that it is not rapidly dissipating

Flag--Sat estimated that it is rapidly dissipating

On--Forecaster input that it is rapidly dissipating
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
Quoting PensacolaDoug:


I seem to remember something about a storm back in the 1930's too.


I believe what you're thinking of is this TS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1939_California_tropical_storm
Apparently its the only known TS to make landfall in that area (California) in the 20th century.
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thanks
Member Since: July 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1133
Quoting DestinJeff:
Is it still okay to posts GFS images here?



The last few times that I mentioned anything about models being right right I got ripped.
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Jeff,

how many hours out is the model run? Is a ridge of high pressure supposed steer this or do you know if another trough is coming?
Member Since: July 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1133
Oh My, where did my avatar go? lol

I guess I need to go back and reread this a.m.'s edition..
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
Igor is strengthening again... the raw t numbers back up to 6.4

UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 15 SEP 2010 Time : 151500 UTC
Lat : 19:40:05 N Lon : 54:58:45 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.9 / 951.8mb/112.4kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.9 6.4 6.4

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +1.4mb

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 20 km

Center Temp : +7.7C Cloud Region Temp : -69.6C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : ON

****************************************************

The weakening flag is off but the Rapid-Dissipation flag is on? Whaaa...?
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Hi Will. Hope I'm not on your ignore. Haven't been on much because of the bickering. My ignore doesn't work. And I can't make a blog either. :(
Just wanted you to know glad it looks like Igor will miss the east coast. And so far so good here. And thanks.


ty Stef yea it is all working so far thanks to out secret hee hee
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Good Morning All

I see the beat goes on and on and on....
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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.

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