Karl makes landfall near Veracruz; Igor slightly weaker

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:29 PM GMT on September 17, 2010

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Hurricane Karl made landfall on the Mexican coast ten miles north of Veracruz at 1pm EDT today as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. Veracruz was on the weak (left) side of Karl's eyewall, and did not receive hurricane force winds, except perhaps at the extreme northern edge of the city. Winds at the Veracruz Airport, located on the west side of the city, peaked at sustained speeds of 46 mph, gusting to 58 mph, at 11:54am local time. Radar out of Alvarado shows that Karl has kept its eyewall intact well inland, even as the storm moves into the high mountains east of Mexico City. Karl was the first major hurricane on record in the Bay of Campeche--the region of the Gulf of Mexico 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 storm 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 strongest hurricane on record so far east, Karl was the strongest hurricane so far south in the Gulf of Mexico, and Earl was the 4th strongest Atlantic 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. Hurricane Karl as seen by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite at 12:20 pm CDT on Thursday, September 16, 2010. Image credit: NASA.


Figure 3. Radar image of Karl at 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 major damage to a 50-mile wide coastal area beginning ten miles north of Veracruz. Fortunately, the coast is not heavily populated there, and is not particularly low-lying, so the 12 - 15 foot storm surge will not be the major concern from Karl. The main concern will be flooding from Karl's torrential rains. The region has been hit by three Category 2 hurricanes over the past 55 years, and two of these storms caused flooding that killed hundreds. 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. Karl's high winds are also a major concern, and these winds are likely to extensive damage.

Igor
The Hurricane Hunters just left Hurricane Igor, and found that the hurricane has continued to slowly weaken. On their last pass through the eye of Igor at 1:49 pm EDT, an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found a central pressure of 947 mb. The eyewall was missing a chunk on its southwest side. Top winds at the surface as seen by their SFMR instrument were barely Category 1 strength, 76 mph, though the aircraft did see 117 mph winds at 10,000 feet, which suggests the surface winds were probably of Category 2 strength, 105 mph.


Figure 4. Hurricane Igor as seen by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite at 10:50 am EDT on Thursday, September 16, 2010. Image credit: NASA.

Igor's impact on Bermuda
Hurricane warnings are now flying for Bermuda, and tropical storm force winds will arrive at the island late Saturday 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 70 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 if Igor weakens to Category 2 strength, as appears likely, damage on the island may be just a few million dollars. According to AIR Worldwide, "Homes in Bermuda are typically one or two stories and constructed of 'Bermuda Stone,' a locally quarried limestone, or of concrete blocks. Roofs are commonly made of limestone slate tiles cemented together. Commercial buildings, typically of reinforced concrete construction, rarely exceed six stories. In both residential and commercial buildings, window openings are generally small and window shutters are common. These features make Bermuda's building stock quite resistant to winds, and homes are designed to withstand sustained winds of 110 mph and gusts of up to 150 mph."

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.)

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave off the coast of Africa, a few hundred miles south of the Cape Verdes Islands, is disorganized, but has the potential for some slow development over the next few days. The NOGAPS model develops this wave into a tropical depression 4 - 5 days from now. NHC is giving the wave a 10% of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday.

I'll have a new post on Saturday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting dmaddox:
1st rain band moving in..bermuda radar loop: Link
Wow, already!!  That storm is HUGE!  God Bless all the folks in Bermuda, it's going to be a long ride, thank goodness they have great building codes there.
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Quoting IKE:


Seems to keep delaying a system developing. Seems to show it starting up around 240 hours, which seems like what it was showing 2-3 days ago.

I think something will develop in the western Caribbean, but it won't get going until the last few days of September.

Where it goes is impossible to know. If some want to say...a "pattern change" is happening, that's fine, but I don't see how anyone can predict where troughs and cold fronts and high pressure will be that far out, especially heading into October.

It's hard to see a system heading into Mexico and southern Texas, heading into October. Climatology goes against it.

Morning Ike,
Yeah, I've noticed that as well, at one point it was developing this system as early as 9/20 and now it just keeps pushing it back with each run.  I wish I could say that it was just the gfs being nutsy, but there are a bunch of models seeing something in that area now:(
Levi mentioned yesterday that it might be monsoonal, as we have seen several times this year,
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1696. surfmom
Morning Coops, Cot, IKE and all the early birds - reviewing Mother Nature's activities through the night.
dang - I see Bermuda still hasn't escaped Igor's attention.... sure wish for some Divine Intervention and some curve.....even with a sound structure the experience of riding out this cane is going to be traumatic....and the 4-leggeds -- my goodness.. as I type this I don't think I will be able to watch Igor visit/hit Bermuda's shores....too nasty, just too nasty

Quoting Goaskalice:

I looked to the east when the sun was rising and there was a few red streaks in the sky. It is eerily calm here, grey and overcast.
I figured Igor is just sucking everything in only to release it all in a few hours. We are prepared here. Doing the last bit of laundry and house cleaning as I think we will be without power for many days.


Sending prayers your way and to your island - just got up and lit a candle in the hearth - when I read your post -- it starts to get even more real & personal..... candle will remain lit till Igor is gone --
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1695. dmaddox
Julia is completely exposed thanks to Igor!! heheheh lol
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1693. dmaddox
L.F. Wade International Airport on Bermuda will close today at noon local and not reopen until sometime on Monday
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Right now. It has that son of a gun stalled over the northern tip of the Yucatan on Oct 1-2


I don't know about you, but several years ago, I wouldn't even be concerned, but I'm so "gun-shy" after the K, I find myself more aware, which is how I landed here.
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Thanks to Igor's shenanigans, Julia's running around this morning sans clothing, I see. Not very nice of him, is it? She fought the good fight, but it'll be all over for her today, I'm afraid.

Pity...

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

Tropical weather-related image
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13250
1690. IKE
Good luck to all in Bermuda. It's going to be a long event with Igor.
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Quoting traumaboyy:


glad back better....no fun at all....and NO...NO FALL.....cause winter comes next and my standard attire is shorts and flip flops!!


Thank you. Eh, we're supposed to have a warm winter. No sleet or snow in Florida this year.
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1688. dmaddox
TXKF 180539Z 1806/1906 08015KT 9999 SCT015 BKN300
BECMG 1815/1818 07025KT 9999 VCSH SCT015 BKN030 OVC300
PROB40
TEMPO 1818/1906 VRB30G40KT 3200 SHRA BKN012CB OVC025
BECMG 1903/1906 07035G45KT 9999 VCSH SCT010 BKN015 OVC180
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1687. IKE
Quoting Cotillion:


That is one bizarre run.

It either develops it from a ITCZ disturbance, or something from the East Pacific, or the Colombian Heat Low.

Then has it meandering by the Yucatan for ages.


Seems to keep delaying a system developing. Seems to show it starting up around 240 hours, which seems like what it was showing 2-3 days ago.

I think something will develop in the western Caribbean, but it won't get going until the last few days of September.

Where it goes is impossible to know. If some want to say...a "pattern change" is happening, that's fine, but I don't see how anyone can predict where troughs and cold fronts and high pressure will be that far out, especially heading into October.

It's hard to see a system heading into Mexico and southern Texas, heading into October. Climatology goes against it.
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1686. dmaddox
1st rain band moving in..bermuda radar loop: Link
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Quoting Goaskalice:

Yes Emily in '87 and Fabian '03.

Igor is frightening because of the size of it. I don't know if we have ever taken a lashing for that length on time.


I'll be thinking of you and all the islanders. Stay with us if you can, let us know what's going on, but stay safe.
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Quoting Cotillion:


That is one bizarre run.

It either develops it from a ITCZ disturbance, or something from the East Pacific, or the Colombian Heat Low.

Then has it meandering by the Yucatan for ages.


nothing should suprise this year......mornin cotillion!!
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Quoting weatherwart:


Better. I pulled my back out a couple of days ago, so sitting at the computer wasn't an option.

I sure am liking these cooler mornings. Yay fall!


glad back better....no fun at all....and NO...NO FALL.....cause winter comes next and my standard attire is shorts and flip flops!!
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1682. dmaddox
live webcam of bermuda:
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1681. dmaddox
from the Bermuda Weather Service: "Hurricane Igor is expected to be a direct hit, passing over Bermuda early Monday morning. Tropical storm force winds will develop Saturday night then increase to hurricane force Sunday afternoon. Wind speed and direction will be dependent on subtle track changes that are likely over the next few days. Heavy rain and thunder are likely as Igor passes."
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Quoting IKE:


Here's the link...Link

Here's at 360 hours...



That is one bizarre run.

It either develops it from a ITCZ disturbance, or something from the East Pacific, or the Colombian Heat Low.

Then has it meandering by the Yucatan for ages.
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Quoting whepton3:
You know, all the talk about the hurricane resistant homes... I grew up in SC, and someone built one there... it looked like a dome almost to let the winds sweep around and over it. Coolest thing I ever saw... like a tan cereal bowl turned upside down.


There are a few of that type on the NC coast as well. And we've had quite a few ICF (insulated concrete form) structures built here in VaBeach the past couple of years. ICF construction definitely gets you a better insurance rate if you live in areas prone to wind damage...
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Quoting traumaboyy:


Always fun on full moon...How are you this fine morning??


Better. I pulled my back out a couple of days ago, so sitting at the computer wasn't an option.

I sure am liking these cooler mornings. Yay fall!
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Yes Emily in '87 and Fabian '03.

Igor is frightening because of the size of it. I don't know if we have ever taken a lashing for that length on time.
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Quoting CoopsWife:
Trauma - yep, Friday and Saturday nights are prolly not so much fun.

Breakfast for those working hard (or doing H prep in Bermuda) is up at 1644 if it hasn't been cleared off the board yet. :)

Has anyone seen any 'new' news out of Mexico yet? I'm only seeing rehashed stories from yesterday still.



Thanks maam..will stick with the coffee!!
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Link

Here's a picture if anyone is interested.
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You know, all the talk about the hurricane resistant homes... I grew up in SC, and someone built one there... it looked like a dome almost to let the winds sweep around and over it. Coolest thing I ever saw... like a tan cereal bowl turned upside down.
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Quoting Goaskalice:

I looked to the east when the sun was rising and there was a few red streaks in the sky. It is eerily calm here, grey and overcast.
I figured Igor is just sucking everything in only to release it all in a few hours. We are prepared here. Doing the last bit of laundry and house cleaning as I think we will be without power for many days.


Good luck to you! It sounds like Bermuda is better prepared than most, considering your building codes. Take care and stay safe!
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Trauma - yep, Friday and Saturday nights are prolly not so much fun.

Breakfast for those working hard (or doing H prep in Bermuda) is up at 1644 if it hasn't been cleared off the board yet. :)

Has anyone seen any 'new' news out of Mexico yet? I'm only seeing rehashed stories from yesterday still.

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Quoting weatherwart:
Good morning, trauma. Full moon coming up. That's always fun, huh?


Always fun on full moon...How are you this fine morning??
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1669. IKE
Quoting CoopsWife:
Ike just posted the 06 run at
1657.

Edit - not sure if the run is complete - Ike, could you do your magic and post the link as well?

thanks!


Here's the link...Link

Here's at 360 hours...

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Good morning, trauma. Full moon coming up. That's always fun, huh?
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1667. papla
EXACTLY! I hope we get absolutely nothing for the rest of the season. I seem to be on pins and needles every season, since "K".....as I am sure many of us are. Best of luck to everyone in Bermuda. Prayers are being said for your safety.
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
For all Gulf Coast boggers. We have about 10 days nail biting starting later next with CMC model pointing to possible Tex storm next weekend and then GFS says possible East Gulf storm 3-6 days later


Good morning everyone
wow didnt see that, thanks for the heads up.
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Quoting CoopsWife:
Morning, trauma - must have been a busy night for you - didn't see/hear much from you overnight.

Ike - lovely as I'm sure Bermuda is - I can't imagine living there with no 'road' out.... guess I'm just too much of a worry wart not to want at least 2 quick exits...


Good Solid Job Security on Friday Nights Maam...Good morning to you!!
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Ike just posted the 06 run at
1657.

Edit - not sure if the run is complete - Ike, could you do your magic and post the link as well?

thanks!
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Quoting Goaskalice:

I looked to the east when the sun was rising and there was a few red streaks in the sky. It is eerily calm here, grey and overcast.
I figured Igor is just sucking everything in only to release it all in a few hours. We are prepared here. Doing the last bit of laundry and house cleaning as I think we will be without power for many days.


By my map, it looks like you're already in very first approaching outer bands of Igor, hence the grey overcast.

Have you been through a hurricane there in the past?
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Morning! Algiers here. I'll second that sentiment!


I used to live in Algiers, too. Hope they don't take the ferry away :(

When's the new GFS out?
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1661. IKE
Quoting CoopsWife:
Morning, trauma - must have been a busy night for you - didn't see/hear much from you overnight.

Ike - lovely as I'm sure Bermuda is - I can't imagine living there with no 'road' out.... guess I'm just too much of a worry wart not to want at least 2 quick exits...


I would have to have a way out or be in a building or home that could withstand 110-130 mph gusts.

Quoting traumaboyy:


Mornin Ike....AMEN!!


Morning.
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Quoting Goaskalice:

I looked to the east when the sun was rising and there was a few red streaks in the sky. It is eerily calm here, grey and overcast.
I figured Igor is just sucking everything in only to release it all in a few hours. We are prepared here. Doing the last bit of laundry and house cleaning as I think we will be without power for many days.


Best of luck.
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Quoting bcycsailor:


Levi mentioned that there could be an upper level split which could bode some nasty stuff in a residual way into next week. I'll be watching for sure.

We are smack-dab on a barrier island just north of Tampa Bay. Instant evacuation should the ghost storm develop.

Do you have a boat where you are? West coast of a South facing entity...haha.


goodnight all. good thoughts for those in harm's way. Igor is huge!
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1657. IKE
174 hour GFS...

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Morning, trauma - must have been a busy night for you - didn't see/hear much from you overnight.

Ike - lovely as I'm sure Bermuda is - I can't imagine living there with no 'road' out.... guess I'm just too much of a worry wart not to want at least 2 quick exits...
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Don't know. Are you in Bermuda? Do you have the red sky in morning?

I looked to the east when the sun was rising and there was a few red streaks in the sky. It is eerily calm here, grey and overcast.
I figured Igor is just sucking everything in only to release it all in a few hours. We are prepared here. Doing the last bit of laundry and house cleaning as I think we will be without power for many days.
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Quoting Hhunter:
so the way the bastardi scale would work is quite simple and elegant. If a storm has cat 4 pressure and cat 2 wind then it is averaged and you have a cat 3 system. Helps to simply account for higher surge potential of a lower pressure storm without the winds that probably equates to a larger system that can't reflect pressure into wind speed. gosh, that just has to do with the storm itself. not the season....


Pressure has nothing to do with it. Yes, pressure differential is what causes the wind (which in turn causes the storm surge etc), but a bigger storm does not always equal a lower pressure in comparison to a higher wind, i.e. Ike.

Alex wasn't that big (well he was large, but he was hardly a storm of truly gigantic proportions). He had a lower than normal pressure for his winds. Either they hadn't worked their way down, the gradient wasn't there as much as usual, monsoonal development (which has seemingly led to more intense convection than usually seen - Karl, Hermine being cases in point) etc.

Felix had a pressure of 929mb - That's usually a moderate to strong Cat 4. At landfall it was 935mb. Even a Cat 3 can have that pressure (as Igor demonstrates; Isidore did as well). He had strong Cat 5 winds.

What was his storm surge? Excess of 18 feet by the NHC advisory - still a Cat 5 storm surge.

It is one thing only: Bastardi contradicting for the sake of contradicting.

But as said, he's getting the hits - can't blame him for that.
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Quoting IKE:
Good morning to all. I wouldn't want to be stuck on Bermuda riding out Igor. I wish the residents well.


Mornin Ike....AMEN!!
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Quoting papla:


Hi Nola.....Marrero here....


Hey papla, Hope the next few weeks are good to us.
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1649. Hhunter
so the way the bastardi scale would work is quite simple and elegant. If a storm has cat 4 pressure and cat 2 wind then it is averaged and you have a cat 3 system. Helps to simply account for higher surge potential of a lower pressure storm without the winds that probably equates to a larger system that can't reflect pressure into wind speed. gosh, that just has to do with the storm itself. not the season....
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Quoting Goaskalice:
Checking in from Bermuda.
This may seem like a silly question but why is there a "calm before the storm"?


With my limited knowledge, this is how I understand it: a hurricane needs fuel and it sucks in that fuel from the moisture in the air around it and ahead of it. That's why you'll see calm, sunny days ahead of storms.

Stay safe in Bermuda. Y'all borded up and ready?
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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.