Hurricane Karl: first major hurricane ever in the Bay of Campeche; Bermuda eyes Igor

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:47 PM GMT on September 17, 2010

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Hurricane Karl explosively deepened into a dangerous Category 3 hurricane this morning, becoming the fifth major hurricane of this remarkably active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Karl is the first major hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche--the region bounded by the Yucatan Peninsula on the east. There were two other major hurricanes that grazed the northern edge of the Bay of Campeche, Hurricane Hilda of 1955 and Hurricane Charley of 1951, but Karl is by far the farthest south a major hurricane has been in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane records go back to 1851, but Karl is a small storm and could have gotten missed as being a major hurricane before the age of aircraft reconnaissance (1945).


Figure 1. Tracks of all major hurricanes since 1851 near Mexico's Bay of Campeche. Karl is most southerly major hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico. Image credit: NOAA Coastal Services Center.

With Karl's ascension to major hurricane status, we are now ahead of the pace of the terrible hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 for number of major hurricanes so early in the year. In 2005, the fifth major hurricane (Rita) did not occur until September 21, and in 2004, the fifth major hurricane (Karl) arrived on September 19. Wunderblogger Cotillion has put together a nice page showing all the seasons with five or more major hurricanes. The last time we had five major hurricanes earlier in the season was in 1961, when the fifth major hurricane (Esther) arrived on September 13. This morning we continue to have three simultaneous hurricanes, Hurricanes Igor, Julia, and Karl. This is a rare phenomena, having occurred only eight previous years since 1851. The last time we had three simultaneous hurricanes in the Atlantic was in 1998. That year also had four simultaneous hurricanes--Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl--for a brief time on September 25. There has been just one other case of four simultaneous Atlantic hurricanes, on August 22, 1893. The year 2005 came within six hours of having three hurricanes at the same time, but the official data base constructed after the season was over indicates that the three hurricanes did not exist simultaneously.

Also remarkable this year is that are seeing major hurricanes in rare or unprecedented locations. Julia was the easternmost major hurricane on record, Karl is the most southerly major hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico, and Earl was the 4th strongest hurricane so far north. This unusual major hurricane activity is likely due, in part, to the record Atlantic sea surface temperatures this year.


Figure 2. Triple trouble, day two: From left to right, Hurricanes Karl, Igor, and Julia roil the Atlantic at 9:45 am EDT, September 17, 2010. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Karl
Hurricane Karl put on a burst of intensification this morning unprecedented in this part of the Atlantic, bottoming out as a Category 3 hurricane with a 957 mb pressure and winds of 120 mph. Karl's pressure dropped 10 mb between 1am EDT and 7 am EDT, but the pressure during the Hurricane Hunters' latest pass through the eye, at 10:12 am, had risen 12 mb, likely indicating that Karl's winds may weaken quickly in the next few hours. Karl is getting very close to land, and interaction with land will probably limit further intensification. Mexican radar out of Alvarado shows the eye is very close to the coast.


Figure 3. Radar image of Karl approaching landfall in Mexico. Image credit: Mexican Weather Service.

Impact of Karl on Mexico
Given that the Bay of Campeche coast has never experienced a hurricane as strong as Karl, its impact is likely to cause unprecedented damage to a 50-mile wide coastal area between Veracruz and Poza Rica. The strongest hurricanes in history to affect the region were Item in 1950, with 110 mph winds, Janet in 1955, with 100 mph winds, and Diana of 1990, with 100 mph winds. Flooding from Janet killed over 800 people in Mexico. and flooding from Diana killed at least 139 people. Fortunately, the Mexicans have one of the best disaster preparedness programs in the world, and it is likely that evacuations from the storm surge zone of Karl will greatly limit the loss of life from storm surge. The section of coast expected to receive Karl's maximum 12 - 16 foot storm surge is moderately populated, but is low-lying only in limited regions. Of greatest concern are Karl's torrential rains, since the region has high mountains near the coast that will experience extreme rainfall and flooding. Karl's high winds are also a major concern, and these winds are likely to damage thousands of buildings near the coast.

Igor
Hurricane Igor has slowly weakened over the past day, but remains a large and dangerous Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. Igor passed just north of buoy 41044 last night, and the buoy recorded a lowest pressure of 942 mb. Top winds during Igor's passage were sustained at 74 mph, but this reading was on the weak left front side of the hurricane. The buoy recorded a significant wave height of 38 feet (the significant wave height is the average of the highest 1/3 of the waves.)


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of Igor.

Intensity forecast for Igor
Wind shear is low to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, and is expected to remain in this range through Saturday afternoon. Waters are warm, 29°C, and will remain 29°C through Saturday morning, then slowly decline. Igor is well armored against any intrusions of dry air for at least the next two days. These conditions should allow Igor to remain at major hurricane status through Saturday afternoon. It is possible the hurricane will undergo another eyewall replacement cycle, where the eyewall collapses and a new eyewall forms from an outer spiral band. This will weaken the hurricane by 10 - 20 mph if it occurs, but Igor may regain its lost intensity once the cycle is over, as it has done after its previous two eyewall replacement cycles. By Saturday afternoon, the trough of low pressure steering Igor northwestwards should bring moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots to the storm, potentially weakening it. The SHIPS models predicts shear will not rise to the high range, 20 - 30 knots, until the hurricane reaches the island, which may be soon enough to induce substantial weakening by perhaps 20 - 30 mph before Igor arrives at Bermuda. Igor will still probably be at least a Category 2 hurricane on its closest pass by Bermuda on Sunday night, and perhaps a Category 3. NHC is giving Bermuda a 29% chance of experiencing hurricane force winds from Igor, but this probability is likely too low. The Bermuda Weather Service is calling for Category 2 hurricane conditions for the island on Sunday, with 20 - 40 foot waves in the offshore waters, and 6 - 12 foot seas in the inland waters.

Igor's impact on Bermuda
The track forecast for Igor remains unchanged. Igor is moving northwest, in response to the steering influence of a broad trough of low pressure moving across the Western Atlantic. This trough will steer Igor to the northwest and north over the next three days, bringing the core of the storm very close to Bermuda late Sunday night. Igor is a huge storm, and tropical storm force winds extend out 290 miles to the north of its center. As the hurricane moves north, it will expand in size, as it takes advantage of the extra spin available at higher latitudes due to Earth's rotation. By Saturday night, Igor's tropical storm force winds are expected to extend outwards 320 miles from the center. Igor will be moving at about 11 - 13 mph during the final 24 hours of its approach to Bermuda, so the island can expect a period of 39+ mph tropical storm force winds to begin near midnight Saturday night--a full 24 hours before the core of Igor arrives. Igor will speed up to about 15 mph as it passes the island near midnight Sunday night, and Bermuda's battering by tropical storm force winds will not be as long as Igor moves away, perhaps 10 hours long. Hurricane force winds will probably extend out about 60 miles from the center when the core of Igor reaches Bermuda, and the island can expect to be pounded by hurricane force winds for up to 6 - 8 hours. In all, Bermuda is likely to suffer a remarkably long 36-hour period of tropical storm force winds, with the potential for many hours of hurricane force winds. Long duration poundings like this are very stressful for buildings, and there is the potential for significant damage on Bermuda. However, buildings in Bermuda are some of the best-constructed in the world, and damage on the island will be much lower than might otherwise be expected.

Bermuda's hurricane history
Igor is similar in strength and projected track to Hurricane Fabian of 2003. Fabian hit Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. It was the most damaging hurricane ever to hit the island, with $355 million in damage. Fabian's storm surge killed four people crossing a causeway on the island. These were the first hurricane deaths on Bermuda since 1926. The most powerful hurricane on record to strike Bermuda was the Category 4 Havana-Bermuda Hurricane, which hit on October 22, 1926, with 135 mph winds. The hurricane sank two British warships, claiming 88 lives, but no one was killed on the island. The deadliest hurricane to affect the island occurred on September 12, 1839, when a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds and an 11-foot storm surge hit, tearing off the roofs of hundreds of buildings and wrecking several ships. An estimated 100 people were killed (source: Encyclopedia of Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones, by David Longshore.)

Igor's impact on the rest of the Atlantic
The models have been in substantial agreement over multiple runs that Igor will miss the U.S. and Canadian coasts--with the possible exception of southeast Newfoundland, which the ECMWF model predicts could see a close pass by Igor. The chief danger to the U.S. and Canada will come in the form of high waves. Large swells from Igor are pounding the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and will spread westwards to the U.S. East Coast today. 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 6 - 11 foot waves on Saturday night, and 9 - 13 foot waves on Sunday.

Julia
Strong upper level winds from big brother Igor are creating a high 20 - 30 knots of shear over Hurricane Julia this morning, and the hurricane is destined to weaken to a tropical storm soon. The high shear has eroded away the northwestern portion of Julia's heavy thunderstorms, and should be strong enough to destroy Julia by early next week. Julia is not expected to threaten any land areas.

Unusually quiet in the Pacific
The unusually quiet Western Pacific typhoon season has its 11th named storm of the season, Typhoon Fanapi. Fanapi, a Category 1 storm, is located 400 miles east of Taiwan, and is expected to intensify into a Category 2 storm before making landfall on the island Sunday. Ordinarily, the Western Pacific should be up to seventeen named storms by now. It has also been unusually quiet in the Eastern Pacific. On average, that ocean basin should have had 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes by now. This season, we've had about half the normal activity--just 6 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and 1 intense hurricane.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The ECMWF model develops a new tropical depression a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa 4 - 5 days from now. The GFS and NOGAPS models have backed off on their predictions of a Caribbean development late next week.

I'll have an update this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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Has anyone noticed that Julia is beginning to be "sucked" in by Igor? They are just over 900 miles apart (eye to eye)! You can see the elongation take place on satellite. It is really interesting to see! Also I noticed that Igor seems to want to slip west a bit now.
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ncforecaster--I agree with you about the nhc models being on track, but there were big shifts in the original global models. I guess that was to be expected, 5-7 days is a more reasonable expectation than something 2 weeks out.
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726. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


track map from the Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau
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720. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #25
TYPHOON FANAPI (T1011)
3:00 AM JST September 18 2010
================================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In Sea South Of Okinawa

At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Fanapi (955 hPa) located at 23.3N 126.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 8 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T5.0

Storm Force Winds
=================
70 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
================
170 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 23.8N 123.0E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
48 HRS: 23.8N 118.4E - 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
72 HRS: 24.2N 114.1E - Tropical Depression
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Quoting SuperYooper:


From the map itself:
Veracruz Airport
Temperature: 72 °F
Dew Point: 72 °F
Humidity: 100%
Wind: SSE at 12mph
Pressure: 29.60in
Precipitation: -in
Daily Precip.: 44.60in
MMVR
lat: 19.15
lon: -96.18
Elevation: 105 ft


Obviously a mistake/broken machine. Machines can't be trolls, can they?


Needs to be an error, if is not an error then the airport is part of the gulf sea now.
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Quoting Bonz:
From someone who likes both sides, minus the behaviors.

Problem is, many of us are not here for middle-school hijinks. And all too often "humor" is an Internet code word for "attack."

What's going on here are two cliques fighting. One uses "humor," the other gets angry. Both are inappropriate.

It's OK to disagree and it's healthy and sometimes one side would get angry at disagreement. That side needs to work on not being thin-skinned. The other side needs to drop the passive-aggressive "humor" and be honest, it's not humor, but attack.

I'm a woman and straightfoward. If I attack, I don't cloak it. But I'm not here for that. I'm here, like most of us, for important information and I resent wading through pages of garbage and that's why I've started hanging over at Storm2K, which is moderated.

If I want junior high antics or sulking, I'll head back into the classroom.
<>BR



Excellent post
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steve lockholer a noted hurricane chaser departed this am for bermuda.hope he will share timely updates with our blog however his video of the storm should be fascinating.
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Hi everyone,

I have done a little lurking the past couple of days with very little time to actually post a comment. That being said, I've noticed that quite a bit of misinformation gets posted in here and is automatically accepted as factual information.

First, H Igor is not the 3rd largest H ever observed in the atlantic as I saw posted recently. I haven't done much research into this myself, but I know of two relatively recent H's that were just as large and even larger than Igor at this point. They are H Floyd of 1999 (GF winds out to 290 nm) and H Isabel of 2003 (GF out to 315 nm), respectively. I am confident there are others and these two weren't listed as tied or ahead of Igor on the list I saw posted.

Secondly, H Igor has been steadily following the NHC track (keep in mind hurricanes don't move in a straight line) pretty consistently for the past 4-5 days and a path passing very close to Bermuda has been expected all along. This idea of H Igor "pumping the ridge" and going much farther W is not accurate. There is too much desire for the historical and the unexpected that it seems to cloud the judgement of some as to what is actually taking place.
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Quoting JupiterFL:


Sure does. We were looking at that this morning. This may be the area that the models are seeing develop in a week or so.

Also has some vorticity.
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You can see the first 15 minutes of every hour, reports of Karl in Veracruz.

Link
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Quoting cybergrump:
That area around 15N 37W looks to be spinning.


Sure does. We were looking at that this morning. This may be the area that the models are seeing develop in a week or so.
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709. IKE
Here's the complete ECMWF run...Link

No lower 48 hits through Sept. 27th.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
That area around 15N 37W looks to be spinning.
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Quoting surfmom:
#655 -thanks TAZ - just the map I was hoping to find while I have a few seconds for a fast scan through here...... didn't know why there was rain in Galveston...didn't realize Karl's fingers had that much reach.

Prayer UP for all affected by KARL in MX


+1
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HurricaneKarl's heading had turned westward to (0.3degrees west of) West SouthWest
from its previous heading of (9.9degrees west of) SouthWest
H.Karl's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions was ~11.7mph(~18.8km/h)

16Sep 06pmGMT - - 19.7n93.3w - - - 75mph - - 983mb - - NHC.Adv.#9A
16Sep 09pmGMT - - 19.6n93.7w - - - 80mph - - 977mb - - #10
17Sep 12amGMT - - 19.7n94.1w - - - 80mph - - 971mb - - #10A
17Sep 03amGMT - - 19.7n94.5w - - 100mph - - 968mb - - #11
17Sep 06amGMT - - 19.7n94.8w - - 105mph - - 967mb - - #11A
17Sep 09amGMT - - 19.7n95.3w - - 110mph - - 961mb - - #12
17Sep 12pmGMT - - 19.6n95.6w - - 120mph - - 956mb - - #12A
17Sep 03pmGMT - - 19.4n95.9w - - 120mph - - 967mb - - #13
H.Carl makes a 115mph(~185km/h)landfall near 19.268n96.23w
17Sep 06pmGMT - - 19.2n96.4w - - 110mph - - 979mb - - #13A

Copy &paste 19.7n93.3w, 19.6n93.7w, 19.7n94.1w, 19.7n94.5w, 19.7n94.8w-19.7n95.3w, 19.7n95.3w-19.6n95.6w, 19.6n95.6w-19.4n95.9w, 19.4n95.9w-19.2n96.4w, ver, cza, 19.268n96.23w into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the last 12*hours.

* The dot closest to VER(acruzInternationalAirport) is where the H.Karl's center made landfall. Copy&paste 19.268n96.23w into GoogleMaps to see how close it came to a landfall within the city proper.
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Quoting IKE:


Here's an MJO chart...posted today....





me no likey the 3rd and 4th panels... Lending more credence to the potential GOM nastiness down the road.
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#655 -thanks TAZ - just the map I was hoping to find while I have a few seconds for a fast scan through here...... didn't know why there was rain in Galveston...didn't realize Karl's fingers had that much reach.

Prayer UP for all affected by KARL in MX
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700. IKE
10 day ECMWF....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
clearly the reason for Atlantic activity is due to man-made global warming.

and the reason for Pacific lack of activity is also due to man-made global warming.
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Quoting dmdhdms:


TWC should hire that weatherwoman....


LOL!!!!!

That's the brightside of the weather reports on Mexico, most of them are given by the women.
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Quoting IKE:


Here's an MJO chart...posted today....





Whoa, whoa whoa wait a second here. This past 1/2 month of hyperactivity was in a DOWNWARD phase and now until the end of September is going to be upward? I shutter to think of what could happen.
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696. Bonz
From someone who likes both sides, minus the behaviors.

Problem is, many of us are not here for middle-school hijinks. And all too often "humor" is an Internet code word for "attack."

What's going on here are two cliques fighting. One uses "humor," the other gets angry. Both are inappropriate.

It's OK to disagree and it's healthy and sometimes one side would get angry at disagreement. That side needs to work on not being thin-skinned. The other side needs to drop the passive-aggressive "humor" and be honest, it's not humor, but attack.

I'm a woman and straightfoward. If I attack, I don't cloak it. But I'm not here for that. I'm here, like most of us, for important information and I resent wading through pages of garbage and that's why I've started hanging over at Storm2K, which is moderated.

If I want junior high antics or sulking, I'll head back into the classroom.

[quote]
Just so everyone knows... Dewey and I agreed long ago to stick with 5th-grade humor, and we have done just that.[/quote]
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Quoting bird72:


44.6inches way wuttttt? Holy mother of......are you sure of that....those are not milimeters?


From the map itself:
Veracruz Airport
Temperature: 72 °F
Dew Point: 72 °F
Humidity: 100%
Wind: SSE at 12mph
Pressure: 29.60in
Precipitation: -in
Daily Precip.: 44.60in
MMVR
lat: 19.15
lon: -96.18
Elevation: 105 ft


Obviously a mistake/broken machine. Machines can't be trolls, can they?
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12z Euro on board for NW Caribbean development..not surprising given all the ensemble support.
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Quoting IKE:


Here's an MJO chart...posted today....





Aye yi yi! Thats not good :(
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689. 7544
igor getting stonger his eye is back now and still wants to head west ?
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Quoting IKE:


Shows an upward MJO in the ATL, good for development.

Not sure on NAO.


NAO expected to be in the negative range around that time frame...

Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4881
686. DVG
As usual...thankyou Levi.

Curious, what part of Alaska?

BTW, I was in Rochester NY for the blizzard of 1966. I know a lot of people think 1993 was bad, but 1966 lasted a week what with lake enhanced snow and a noreaster pumping all the way from the atlantic.

The snow drifts were higher than the snow plows right in town. School ws out for over a week. ( A certain junior high student had no problem with that at all. )

Anyway, the reason I ask is I love to watch weather cams.
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685. Jax82
Quoting IKE:


Here's an MJO chart...posted today....





Yikes, no wonder the models are pointing at development there! (PS: I hate being post#666)
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Quoting tomcat007:
Link

Igor at his finest a few days ago.


Thank you! I never need to learn how to make gifs cause someone else always does it for me :)
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uh oh
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682. IKE
Quoting kshipre1:
I can not read that sorry Ike. is this good or bad for US landfalls?


Shows an upward MJO in the ATL, good for development.

Not sure on NAO.

8 day ECMWF....




Day 9....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Jeff,

which storm or potential storm is this for?
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About JeffMasters

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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