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 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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Bermuda's last nightmare:

[From advisory #36]:

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 115 MILES...185 KM...
FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP
TO 230 MILES...370 KM. FABIAN IS A LARGE HURRICANE AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS ARE ALREADY AFFECTING BERMUDA. A WIND GUST TO 61
MPH...98 KM/HR WAS EXPERIENCED IN BERMUDA WITHIN THE PAST HOUR. HAM
RADIO REPORTS INDICATE THAT THERE ARE ROUGH SEAS AND TREE BRANCHES
ON ROADS. HURRICANE CONDITIONS SHOULD BEGIN SOON.

Yeah, the radii is quite a bit larger.
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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.


We did once have a sailboat, but work got in the way. Have friends in the Clearwater area - Indian Beach.

Anything that gets into the NW Caribbean will be a mess due to SSTs off-the-chain!
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Quoting CoopsWife:


No such thing!

A very healthy spread, indeed.
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Checking in from Bermuda.
This may seem like a silly question but why is there a "calm before the storm"?
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1642. IKE
Quoting Cotillion:


What have we got?

At least the storm surge, while it'll be huge, will not be as bad as if it was a large coastline, say like on the East/Gulf Coast. Then it'd be basically Ike, mk 2.

The main thing it seems for Bermuda is that it'll feel like Frances for them (just going by Floridians and their experiences) - it'll go on for hours... and hours... and hours.

---

Morning Ike.

You got a countdown to the end of the season?


Always....

Day 110.....73 days to go.
....................................

6Z GFS @ 114 hours....



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1641. papla
Quoting NOLA2005:


No, I'm in New Orleans...


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


Supposedly their dwelling are built to withstand hurricanes...I hope so. Link to Bermuda Sun: Link
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Quoting CoopsWife:
Ah, yes - I noticed the winds of war stirring the past few days, but was quite surprised to see so many battlefield casualties on the night shift. I guess the heat potential got a bit too high and we had some redistribution.

Well, Cotillion - if you think it's really safe, feel free to wander over to the sideboard. As it's a weekend, I went all out on the fryup, LOL.

Not quite sure what to make of the wind/pressure differential on Igor. My reading of the discussion makes me think those flight level winds are just taking longer to mix down because of the wind field size.



What have we got on the board?

At least the storm surge, while it'll be huge, will not be as bad as if it was a large coastline, say like on the East/Gulf Coast. Then it'd be basically Ike, mk 2.

The main thing it seems for Bermuda is that it'll feel like Frances for them (just going by Floridians and their experiences) - it'll go on for hours... and hours... and hours.

---

Morning Ike.

You got a countdown to the end of the season?
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Quoting NOLA2005:


Please tell me about St. Pete Beach/Pass-a-grille. I'm not familiar with it.

I hope the GFS doesn't continue to develop a Caribbean storm for next week.


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.
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Quoting CoopsWife:


Couldn't be much worse....


It's amazing how little the forecast track has changed over the past several days--Igor's slowed down a bit, so they've been off a bit on that, but the forecast track has been taking it right over Bermuda for several days now.

Example: discussion four days ago at this time had it right on top of Bermuda at 5 AM tomorrow.
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1636. IKE
Good morning to all. I wouldn't want to be stuck on Bermuda riding out Igor. I wish the residents well.
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Quoting dmaddox:
i believe thats 300 nautical miles...


Ah, thank you...of course. Who invented such a confusing system, with two different kinds of miles?
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Quoting IKE:
Bermuda's coordinates are 32.4N and 64.7W.

NHC has Igor at...

48HR VT 20/0600Z 32.2N 64.7W 95 KT

Within 15 miles of the eye. Looks like a bad hit for Bermuda.


Morning, Ike. Yeah, it doesn't look good for Bermuda. A few days ago, I was hoping Igor would track a further east but it doesn't look like that's going to happen now.

From what I've been reading, many of the homes there are built to withstand sustained 110mph and gust 150mph and Igor's right there. Hope for no further strengthening.
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1633. CalTex
The east coast even pales in comparison to the size of Igor...yikes! This is a water vapor image closer up of the battlefield.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/nwatl/wv-l.jpg
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
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


No kidding! Some models are still putting a high over us, though. As to when it pulls out.......?
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1631. dmaddox
Quoting IKE:
Bermuda's coordinates are 32.4N and 64.7W.

NHC has Igor at...

48HR VT 20/0600Z 32.2N 64.7W 95 KT

Within 15 miles of the eye. Looks like a bad hit for Bermuda.
:(
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Quoting IKE:
Bermuda's coordinates are 32.4N and 64.7W.

NHC has Igor at...

48HR VT 20/0600Z 32.2N 64.7W 95 KT

Within 15 miles of the eye. Looks like a bad hit for Bermuda.


Couldn't be much worse....
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Ah, yes - I noticed the winds of war stirring the past few days, but was quite surprised to see so many battlefield casualties on the night shift. I guess the heat potential got a bit too high and we had some redistribution.

Well, Cotillion - if you think it's really safe, feel free to wander over to the sideboard. As it's a weekend, I went all out on the fryup, LOL.

Not quite sure what to make of the wind/pressure differential on Igor. My reading of the discussion makes me think those flight level winds are just taking longer to mix down because of the wind field size.

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Quoting bcycsailor:


yes, and thanks for your humor!


thanks all. gotta go skype with family in NZ. Love the new format here.
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Quoting bcycsailor:


yes, and thanks for your humor!


Please tell me about St. Pete Beach/Pass-a-grille. I'm not familiar with it.

I hope the GFS doesn't continue to develop a Caribbean storm for next week.
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1626. dmaddox
Key West AFD: "TOWARD THE END OF THE WEEK A WAVE-LIKE
FEATURE IS SUGGESTED BY GUIDANCE. IF THIS MATERIALIZES WE WILL HAVE
TO INCREASE OUR CHANCES FURTHER...BUT FOR NOW WE CAN WAIT AND SEE."
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1623. IKE
Bermuda's coordinates are 32.4N and 64.7W.

NHC has Igor at...

48HR VT 20/0600Z 32.2N 64.7W 95 KT

Within 15 miles of the eye. Looks like a bad hit for Bermuda.
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Quoting NOLA2005:


ROFL! Not yet, anyway! We do have a West Bank...was that what you meant?


yes, and thanks for your humor!
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1620. CalTex
1607. CoopsWife 9:38 AM GMT on September 18, 2010

Good morning to ye!

Yes, much bloodshed yesterday, but the stabbing was weirdly applied. I even got a comment deleted and can't for the life of me figure out why.

Take a good look at Igor, he's really feeling his oats this morning and is putting on quite a show. Amazing after all this time that he's still in one piece, and very frightening for Bermuda. I for one would not want to be in his crosshairs, no matter how much he weakens before landfall.
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
Quoting bcycsailor:


oops...Nola does not have a west coast...or does it? my bad.


ROFL! Not yet, anyway! We do have a West Bank...was that what you meant?
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karl really moved over mexico fast another good forecast from the nhc
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1611.

Agreed. A slight swing to the west would be far worse than a wide swing - NE quadrant would be the worst case scenario - not just the winds, etc, but the duration of the storm.
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1615. CalTex
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Yes and no. While a direct hit would be really bad, Igor sliding 10 or even 30 miles to the west wouldn't be so great either. Then Bermuda would have all the elements of the dirtier side of the storm...the higher surge, more intense eyewall and feeder-bands, etc. Ideally I'd like to see him hook well to the right (east) of bermuda (if it's even still possible) or really defy the model consensus and slice well off to the west of the inland...100 miles or so


I would normally agree with you, but I don't think that Igor has gotten the memo. Overnight he's been going almost due west, some northward movement but not much. From the track forecasts I get the impression that going north at this point would mean a direct hit, or maybe I missed something.
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
Quoting CoopsWife:
Good morning, all. And good heavens - what the heck happened in here last night? Looks like a battlefield with all the missing posts over the past 500 or so entries. Think I'll skip my standard morning offer of food and drink or I may find my own posts disappearing, LOL.

I see Igor is looking a bit better than yesterday afternoon - prayers UP for Bermuda. Going to be a VERY long weekend for those folks.


The morning shift tends to have less posts removed.. so you should be okay for a couple of hours at least. I hope.

Good morning anyhow.

Looks like we'll still have a storm to track for sometime yet. Hope Bermuda is prepared.
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Quoting bcycsailor:


St. Pete Beach...in a historical neighborhood. Pass-a-
grille. Are you West Coast?


oops...Nola does not have a west coast...or does it? my bad.
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Quoting bcycsailor:


St. Pete Beach...in a historical neighborhood. Pass-a-
grille. Are you West Coast?


No, I'm in New Orleans...
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Quoting NOLA2005:


Not boring at all! May I ask which island is yours?


St. Pete Beach...in a historical neighborhood. Pass-a-
grille. Are you West Coast?
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Good morning, all. And good heavens - what the heck happened in here last night? Looks like a battlefield with all the missing posts over the past 500 or so entries. Think I'll skip my standard morning offer of food and drink or I may find my own posts disappearing, LOL.

I see Igor is looking a bit better than yesterday afternoon - prayers UP for Bermuda. Going to be a VERY long weekend for those folks.
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Quoting stormstricken:
The several comments about the huge storm taking longer to respond in windspeed make perfect sense. I expect the same is true when the storm's pressure rises, as well, and have actually watched that side of the action here on Igor in the last few days. Thanks for the several comments and great info from a few of you. What a nice, informative blog it's turned out to be in these wee hours.

I got involved in Hurricame preparedness in the early 80's down in Hilton Head Island, and the Tropical weather addiction hit, never to disappear.

Charley in 2004 seems like the biggest forecast miss I ever watched closely. I could not believe the NHC didn't place a stronger warning to those poor areas stricken. I saw it coming as an amateur, and couldn't figure out the terrible miss NHC had on that huge explosion of power in the final hours before Charley struck land. If one read the "Discussions" it seemed to be plain....but the Public warnings were so mild. Almost nobody but real weather freaks bother to read the more in depth information typically made available to the public. That unpreparedness was a real shame, I thought.



Good post. I get it. The friends down south are laisse_faire.
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Quoting Cotillion:


Now, that I re-read it I understand... it's early, forgive me.


Thank you so much for the explanation and the link.

Betty
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Quoting bcycsailor:
I have wanted to post here many times. Mainly to pose a question or two. But, I'm shy by nature, and the hyperbole becomes distracting.

I really like the in-depth discussion, but it's as if I need to bring a special toy, and sit at the right table... no critique intended. I have an advanced degree in geography(liberals arts etc) bah!, and a life-long sailor, so my interest in any weather, is in my blood. But I'm just learning about "tropical" systems. I'm old enough to know nothing, so that's good. I do know that our spoken language does not translate into technical explanation easily (in any language). Hence, the misunderstandings when there are interpretations of models. As I said, I know very little about atmo science, but the few courses I've taken, and my general science background, have given me a firm idea of the scientific method. My Dad gave me a microscope when I was young,...changed my world.


Chins up Wunderground. all will be well :>)



I live on a barrier island West Central Gulf Coast during winter, and in the upper Plains over summer. The cold fronts are awesome as they come through, and the Prairie thunderstorms can be wicked.

Let's keep this blog alive with any weather chat. Now, we obviously have our focus.

Cosmic prayers go out to those in harm's way.

I would not want to be in a boat in Igor's path.

Will I be banned if I don't post something noteworthy now? I don't have a map. How do I get one?

Sorry for boring you.


Not boring at all! May I ask which island is yours?
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1603. CalTex
Quoting dmaddox:
i believe thats 300 nautical miles...


Thanks so much for clearing that up...makes sense when it's a marine advisory.
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1602. CalTex
The water vapor animation at the link below shows the great interaction between Igor and Julia. You can check the box to the upper left for the Lat/Lon lines which make it easier to see Igor's course. It's more than an hour behind now, but still interesting.

I've been thinking, but maybe now he's this far, the farther west he goes the better for Bermuda. Then he'll go between the CONUS and the island, which should be better than a direct hit.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/flash-wv.html
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
1601. dmaddox
Quoting dmaddox:
CMC valid Sept. 24 @ 18z:

CMC valid Sept. 28 @ 00z:
double whammy!???
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The several comments about the huge storm taking longer to respond in windspeed make perfect sense. I expect the same is true when the storm's pressure rises, as well, and have actually watched that side of the action here on Igor in the last few days. Thanks for the several comments and great info from a few of you. What a nice, informative blog it's turned out to be in these wee hours.

I got involved in Hurricame preparedness in the early 80's down in Hilton Head Island, and the Tropical weather addiction hit, never to disappear.

Charley in 2004 seems like the biggest forecast miss I ever watched closely. I could not believe the NHC didn't place a stronger warning to those poor areas stricken. I saw it coming as an amateur, and couldn't figure out the terrible miss NHC had on that huge explosion of power in the final hours before Charley struck land. If one read the "Discussions" it seemed to be plain....but the Public warnings were so mild. Almost nobody but real weather freaks bother to read the more in depth information typically made available to the public. That unpreparedness was a real shame, I thought.

Quoting Cotillion:
Might be to do with it the winds taking longer to wind down, but also with a bigger storm the gradient is going to be not so conducive to higher wind speeds. The high isn't *that* strong, either.

Take Felix - on the whole, he wasn't that huge of a storm and had a strong B/A high that year. That allowed him to clock 175mph winds despite a pressure reading of 'only' 929mb.

Igor may be focusing more on expanding his windfield (like Ike did) than clocking up higher windspeeds (of course, storms do tend to get larger as they go up in latitude - beta effect?).
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1599. dmaddox
Quoting FlyingScotsman:


Huh, that's strange. In the Public Advisory it does say 345 miles, but in the Marine Advisory it's only 300 miles at the furthest (NE quadrant).
i believe thats 300 nautical miles...
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