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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1546. CalTex
If you go to this link and check the box to show the SSTs, you can see that Igor is traveling over 30 degree C water right now. Maybe this is part of the explosion we're seeing.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/carb/flash-wv.html
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
Quoting fatlady99:
Well, there are a few posts still there, but it looks like most of I said from 1150 to about 1375 is gone. Also P.I., NRAamy, pottery, Kori, and a few others. VERY selective. You'd think if this was from admin, that it would be consistent.

Even angiest's post where she talks about her daughter is gone...


I didn't go back that far. Just came on right before I posted, so only went back a couple of pages, but I agree that lately it does seem kinda random. Anyway, check your mail.

I'm getting a little concerned about the GFS continued development of a TC in the Gulf. Any other models developing it?
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This may have already been mentioned at some point after I posted a comment yesterday evening. In that post, I discussed some of the misinformation I had seen posted on this blog (such as the idea Igor was supposedly "pumping the ridge" and going much farther W than expected) that had automatically been accepted as factual information.

In that particular post, I also mentioned that H Igor was not #3 on a list of the largest Atlantic hurricanes in history-at the time-as I had seen posted numerous times beforehand. At that particular time, there were many other hurricanes that had been just as large or even larger (based on the radius of gale force winds) than H Igor-such as H Floyd of 1999, H Ivan of 2004, and H Isabel of 2003-that were not on that list.

It turns out that H Isabel had actually expanded its wind field to a GF radius of 345 nm as it approached the NC Outer Banks back in 2003-from the 315 nm radius I had remembered previously. Ironically, that equates to the exact same size of H Igor-based on its current radius of GF winds (345 nm)-which have expanded from the 290 nm radius it had yesterday evening.

In short, I haven't done any extensive research on whether or not any other Atlantic basin hurricanes were larger than these two behemoths-but I thought I would share these facts as an historical reference for those who might be interested.

More importantly, I want to wish everyone here a good night and a great start to the weekend!:)

Most sincerely,
Tony
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
NP. Adorable dog btw. Chocolate Lab??


That's Munchkin the Fatlady. She's a flat-coated retriever mix. Since she has a curly tail, I think she's part retriever, part pot bellied pig.

She's ancient, but she's the light of my life. Retrievers rule. (pls god, don't let the Russell terrier hear me say that...)
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1538. CalTex
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Yep! Reminds me a lot link Ike. Massive size but only cat 2 strength...AT THE MOMENT ANYWAY


Did you notice that the pressure at the 2AM advisory was usual for a cat 4 (942mb)? Maybe he'd been struggling with the dry air, change in course, and Julia, but those things are no longer affecting him.
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Gonna have to side w/ you fatlady. Without humor, how could that be.

But again, well said though

thanks, cat5
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Quoting CalTex:
Igor working his way back to cat 4?

http://icons-pe.wunderground.com/data/images/at201011_sat.jpg

He's begun to feed on what's left of Julia's moisture flow.
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1534. CalTex
Igor working his way back to cat 4?

http://icons-pe.wunderground.com/data/images/at201011_sat.jpg
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
Quoting Barefootontherocks:


SJ,
Consider that the "community" - and yes, there is one - has been flagging the off topic posts because they are tired of this four day long blog war in the middle of three major hurricanes, two of them landfalling.

Speaking for myself, I sure am tired of it. If someone needs to vent, s/he can open his/her own blog and do that. I believe this latest "growth" episode will help the main blog in a positive way. All these episodes have. And, just for the record, I have no value about who stays or goes. Bloggers have always come and gone from this place. More will come and some who leave will return. You know that.

I'm glad admin's taken a hard line stance. I hope they stick to it.

Goodnight to all!

there is a certain amount of truth in some of what you say. however, imagine this blog without personality or humor. Maybe during the day when something is intensely going on, but at night? Now?

Karl made landfall yesterday afternoon. Igor will not make landfall for awhile, and Julia,.... well... we'll see if she survives. There are the moments in between when one can take a breather and let off some stress with a joke and make others laugh, or laugh themselves at someone being silly. not all the OT posts are evil.

It is the nastiness that devolves this blog into the war zone it has become. Certainly the adolescent drama of the daytime blog has become overwhelming. But that's no reason to crush any and all spirit and life out of the folks who post here. That's what your 'hardline' does.

I hope they - whoever they are - and you as well - mellow. JMO
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Quoting StormJunkie:
This has been an update from the PHFC - Pumping Hydro For Censorship

Veracruz article

Video

Pictures

that's beyond disturbing. a prayer for Veracruz from me, too.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Igor really showing signs of getting his act together. Some nice cold convective tops just immediately north of the eyewall

Link


WOW...what a monster!!!
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Quoting StormJunkie:


I am still not convinced that it is admin driven. I know that earlier this morning it was NOT just admin driven.


SJ,
Consider that the "community" - and yes, there is one - has been flagging the off topic posts because they are tired of this four day long blog war in the middle of three major hurricanes, two of them landfalling.

Speaking for myself, I sure am tired of it. If someone needs to vent, s/he can open his/her own blog and do that. I believe this latest "growth" episode will help the main blog in a positive way. All these episodes have. And, just for the record, I have no value about who stays or goes. Bloggers have always come and gone from this place. More will come and some who leave will return. You know that.

I'm glad admin's taken a hard line stance. I hope they stick to it.

Goodnight to all!
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1520. mbjjm
I am to bed, will whisper a prayer for Bermuda.
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This has been an update from the PHFC - Pumping Hydro For Censorship

Veracruz article

Video

Pictures
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15714
1516. CalTex
Does anyone know which hurricane has the record for EWRCs? Igor sure seems to have had a lot of them.
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
1511. mbjjm
Karl is nothing for Mexico, compared to the daily beheadings, kidnappings,bombings etc. Almost 30,000 people killed since 2006. A little rain is nothing, person are acostumed to staying in doors anyway.
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1507. mbjjm
The next two weeks seem to be some quiet time before the active ramps up shifting to the Gulf and Caribbean.
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1506. CalTex
Brownsville, TX is currently getting hammered from one of Karl's outflows. Does anyone know how Mexico is faring right now? Has Karl died or is he still dropping a lot of rain?
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
1499. mbjjm
Persons are saying the models are hinting at South Florida system.

I do not know which models you are looking at but I am seeing no activity in the gfs until the last day of this month in the SW Caribbean and the Euro has a no activity aside from a tropical storm developing off the African coast taking the same path as Julie, near the Cape Verde and out to sea not affecting anybody.
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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.