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 aislinnpaps:
What a shame that the trolls are beginning to take over the blog. They don't deserve replies, arguements or being quoted. Serious people need to just ignore them, pay them no heed and not even defend people against them. That's what they want you to do.


i am affriad that there are so many nut heads on here that they love to feed them makes the ignore feature useless.
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Quoting sarahjola:
who is bob? thanks in advance
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.
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Quoting tacoman:
HE IS A MET WITH A BLOG ON HERE..HE IS WITH THE NHC AND DOES A GREAT JOB...THIS GUY HASNT BEEN WRONG ALL YEAR...WE NEED MORE LIKE HIM...HE IS WEATHERGUY03...


If i was bob right now, I'd put a hush to your nonsense.. making quite a bad name for him and he has nothing to do with it
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Quoting NASA101:

Just FYI....06Z GFS and EURO are developing a storm that's not the same! GFS has it in the eastern Caribbean which eventually ends up in the Gulf! Euro develops one off the coast of Africa has it at 45W north of 20N

06Z GFS - 180 hrs:
Link

06Z Euro - 240 hrs:
Link



Let's see what does 12Z runs have to offer!?
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Quoting wanabwetherman:
Would someone be so kind as to tell me if and when a hurricane has hit San Diego. Please include a link to the info. Thanks in advance!
never water way to cold
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Whoa Taco...that was not my question!

I simply asked if the model runs shown above are showing the same storm, one shows a TX/LA landfall while the GFS yesterday (on Sept.27) showed a FL landfall.
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Quoting Kristina40:
Thanks for the updates ConsejoBelize. You appear to live in Paradise. I guess dealing with this fierce storms is part of the payment on Paradise.


Yea, we call it "Paradise Tax". This storm, however, is nothing like it could have been. I shiver to think what we would be facing had he organized a day or two earlier.
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Quoting kshipre1:
thanks! interesting. are other models other than the GFS and ECMWF jumping on this as well?

Just FYI....06Z GFS and EURO are developing a storm that's not the same! GFS has it in the eastern Caribbean which eventually ends up in the Gulf! Euro develops one off the coast of Africa has it at 45W north of 20N

06Z GFS - 180 hrs:
Link

06Z Euro - 240 hrs:
Link

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Link
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Would someone be so kind as to tell me if and when a hurricane has hit San Diego. Please include a link to the info. Thanks in advance!
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Long, all day vis loop, sunrise to sunset of Igor. Most of it SRSO. VERY LARGE FILE.
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/100913_g15_igor_vis_an im.gif


very intemedating storm
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Quoting Bordonaro:

GFS & EMCwF models are hinting at a storm developing in 7-10 days, possibly affect FL. We need to just watch and wait to see if that pans out, as a pattern change is expected and an upward MJO cycle enhancing TC development.


The range has been Yucatan to near Florida, with an outlier over Hispaniola. (GFS)
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting atmoaggie:
Long, all day vis loop, sunrise to sunset of Igor. Most of it SRSO. VERY LARGE FILE.
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/100913_g15_igor_vis_anim.gif


I sure love my broadband. :) That is just awesome to watch.
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who is bob? thanks in advance
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It's like a chatroom mosh-pit in here lately.
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Quoting sarahjola:
does it show it hitting land in a week and a half? if so where does the storm form? is it in the caribbean? has the gfs been any good this season with predicting storm formation? thanks in advance


GFS has forecast the formation of Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Igor, and Julia, as much as two weeks in advance. I do not know how many of the others it has forecast. I am not sold on any particular track, but it has been showing the formation of a storm in the Caribbean and moving into the Gulf quite frequently over the last half week.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
thanks! interesting. are other models other than the GFS and ECMWF jumping on this as well?
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What a shame that the trolls are beginning to take over the blog. They don't deserve replies, arguements or being quoted. Serious people need to just ignore them, pay them no heed and not even defend people against them. That's what they want you to do.
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Is that the same storm that, just a mere 24 hours ago, the GFS showed as a FL storm?
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Thanks for the updates ConsejoBelize. You appear to live in Paradise. I guess dealing with this fierce storms is part of the payment on Paradise.
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Quoting OctoberToRemember:


Show me where the ECM takes it to FL? Stop fabricating lies, plz.

Look in yesterdays blog please.
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Quoting tacoman:


Give it a rest!!!!! It's this kind of crap that just keeps this garbage going.
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Long, all day vis loop, sunrise to sunset of Igor. Most of it SRSO. VERY LARGE FILE.
http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/100913_g15_igor_vis_anim.gif
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Quoting angiest:


Fun, GFS continues to show that storm in a week and a half.
does it show it hitting land in a week and a half? if so where does the storm form? is it in the caribbean? has the gfs been any good this season with predicting storm formation? thanks in advance
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Quoting Kristina40:
ConsejoBelize, that was a great photograph! You have a beautiful view there.

Thanks. Belize is beautiful! Here is a view out the back. The winds are clocking to the south so Chetumal Bay is getting angry. 1/2 hour ago it was nearly flat. This photo is looking ESE.


0950 CDT
Conditions at Consejo, Belize
Wind S 40-45mph gusts to 55mph
Light Rain, Thunder
Power glitching again. I'm surprised it is still working.



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Quoting kshipre1:
there has been a lot of talk the past couple of days in here about potential tropical storms and hurricanes affecting Florida and the gulf coast. can someone please shed some light on this? thanks

GFS & EMCwF models are hinting at a storm developing in 7-10 days, possibly affect FL. We need to just watch and wait to see if that pans out, as a pattern change is expected and an upward MJO cycle enhancing TC development.
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storm,

what is your WU email address? thanks
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Quoting xcool:





look out la -tx


Fun, GFS continues to show that storm in a week and a half.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting 7544:
morning all is igor trying to go west again at this hour ?

he might wobble but the chances of his going due west for any extended amount of time is very very low at this point. The low pressure/troughs to his north should keep pulling him north slowly until he gets far enough north to get totally picked up by a trough and re-curves
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hey storm! good morning. how are you?
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WOW! Best post of the year!

Quoting P451:
Quoting CTSkywatcher:
Storm isn't disregarding climatology. He is pointing out WHEN said change is going to happen. The REASON he states this is because he knows AFTER the change happens someone other than Bermuda will be running for cover. We have an above average season on our hands and things will get messy sooner or later. Storm isn't here for props, nor is he always correct. And last I checked, our fine host Dr. Masters has him as a featured blogger. What gives folks? Do we need a Hurricane to attack us so we stop attacking one another???

DJ, I need to borrow your kit now.....Blog Therapy.

===================

I am not attacking anyone and I referred to nobody by name I was speaking in general terms. If someone wishes to try to link my posts to a specific individual and label it an attack I cannot change that no matter how incorrect they are.

Now here is my gripe all in one for whoever chooses to read: It is a long read but is necessary now that I'm being personally attacked by a few who are misinterpreting the reasoning of my posts.

All season long we have heard of pattern changes. Just wait 7 more days. We heard it every week the past 14 weeks and nothing evolved as a result.

[big snip]

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there has been a lot of talk the past couple of days in here about potential tropical storms and hurricanes affecting Florida and the gulf coast. can someone please shed some light on this? thanks
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
It happens. Give her 5 to 7 days approx. Oh wait, she'll be gone by then...


actually it's probable that she'd be a CAT 1/TS by that time
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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.