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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...KARL EXPECTED TO DISSIPATE SOON OVER THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF
SOUTHERN MEXICO...

SUMMARY OF 1000 PM CDT...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...18.6N 97.4W
ABOUT 55 MI...85 KM ESE OF PUEBLA MEXICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH...55 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WSW OR 250 DEGREES AT 7 MPH...11 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1000 MB...29.53 INCHES


That didn't take long.

It kinda still amazes me, even though I know the forces at work, that these storms take day, sometimes a week or more to get itself together and then mere hours to kill it.
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Quoting CaptnDan142:


A flat island below sea level is called a sandbar or a reef, depending on composition. People don't live there.
Thank you.I was confused.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16406
Quoting KanKunKid:


LOL! I feel like Happy Gilmore. I'm a bass player, but I am playing keyboards tonight.

Listed in order of talent. Not counting woodwinds and brass. I only brought those to Mexico. I was just goofing off and Mark took me serious. He is a touring musician and a nice guy Link
I was lucky to jam with him. We weathered Karl playing "Marguaritaville".

Our socks? Still intact. Karl blew us around but didn't hurt anything.
Congratulations on the gig. The link looks good. Glad the socks are still intact. You will have mail.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
ok I looked up some information about 2005 ACE

After the K storm in 2005 the ACE was 102.34

After Ophelia (which is the storm that ended right around now) the ACE was 139.76

So although we are not up to 2005 right now in terms of time of year we are passed 2005 at the point of the K storm... also we are not that far behind 2005 otherwise as Ophelia produced a pretty good amount of ACE (without that storm 2005 would have 124 ACE)


I was just running the numbers, and, yes, I came up with the same as you: at the end of our 'K' storm, we've had 116 (and counting, since Igor should still give us at least two day's worth) compared to 2005's 102.64.

One of the ominous things about 2005's c. 140: they gained another 108 ACE units after this date. Will we?
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I'm in Bermuda now on the south shore the waves and swells are large and thunder pound waves already are running about 10-15 foot high outer reef. The water is already pushing its way to back of some of the resort structures.
People are slowing boarding up some lines at gas stations not to bad. The locals are very calm but very concerned after they remember Fabian about five years ago.
I have chased a number of hurricanes over the years. When you see waves already this big days before it make landfall regardless of its intensity thing are going to get much worse. IE wave height swells 40-50 foot range. IE Cat-2 hurricane but more like a cat 4 storm surge!!
The storm has a 250 mi radius from the center of TS winds so Bermuda will have 36 hours of TS winds and about 12 hour of Hurricane force winds.

I will try to have live stream up later Saturday and Sunday if we have power and internet.
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:
I do kind of like the big downpours, however mine are often accompanied by lightning. My house has been hit 3 times in the last 25 years.
Insurance had a big payout for 1 hit,over $2500 on top of my deductible but the last one cost less than the deductible (I now have every surge protection system on the market LOL)


Where in FL do you live?
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one more quick post - Igor near exploded just before 0000z - the apparent eye afterward appeared to me to be just an eye in the massive outflow on top of the lower levels. Igor did look better - more symmetric in many views but was still under that massive outflow...
IMHO he is still wrestling with a humungous eye - eye itself way bigger than active part of Julia - ~ 100 mi or >>1 degree - maybe 2 degrees in diameter.
Maybe eyewalls are near complete and circular and he's just doing cleanup - dunno - cya later - thank you all
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Quoting BaltOCane:
You know, a month ago my tracking map looked very blank.
I remember thinking that Alex, TD2, and Bonnie looked very lonely.

I wholeheartedly regret that 1 second thought as we move into the later part of Sept, cuz it has been busy, and it looks to stay that way.

(BTW, a a month ago people were calling the season a bust, and now, 8 storms and 5 majors later, I see none of those people harping anymore.)
still think it'll be 20-13-8/7
GO RAVENS!

A lot of that was just to troll easy targets.
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Current forecast: looks like Bermuda could see 175 km/h (110 mph) winds.
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I do kind of like the big downpours, however mine are often accompanied by lightning. My house has been hit 3 times in the last 25 years.
Insurance had a big payout for 1 hit,over $2500 on top of my deductible but the last one cost less than the deductible (I now have every surge protection system on the market LOL)
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Quoting CaptnDan142:


Ah, so we can assume then that the answer to the original question would be, "Evacuate to the mainland then North". ;-)


Yes, I guess so. lol
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Thank you, Len. Well summarized and well said.
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Quoting BobinTampa:
Report me all u want tropicfreak, but here is a direct quote from storms post on his blog: "Good afternoon…FINALLY!  Ya have to wonder what takes Doctors so long."

that is a direct and cheap shot by your hero. Go to his blog if you're so in awe of him.


wow... pretty sure that was a shot at an actual MD doc, which he takes one of his kids to a lot. So probably very thankful to be out a doc's office by afternoon, if he was there all morning.

but good try tho. Keep looking for those.

Igor looks to be setting himself up for round 4:

110mph winds
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Quoting EricSFL:


Actually, now that I think about it, there is an area called Stiltsville south of Key Biscayne FL. There are houses on stilts over the reef/sand banks.


Ah, so we can assume then that the answer to the original question would be, "Evacuate to the mainland then North". ;-)
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Quoting BDADUDE:
Are you sure that your house is 300 years old??


Yeah we're pretty sure. It's one of only 60 Grade 1 listed properties in the island and appearing in the National Trust's Paget book coming out at the end of the year.
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Quoting CalTex:


Some distant cousins of mine are on the death list for the 1900 storm to hit Galveston. The resultant seawall probably saved a lot of people's homes with Ike, but still much loss of property and life.

Umm, you really need to find "Star Trek" the TV show on DVD. I think I saw every episode back in the day of the dinosaurs...lol.
Yeah, the seawall definitely did its job.

What really floored me though, was when talking to people who lived on the island making comments such as "the seawall did its job the water came up the backside of the island". Duh? It's as if they don't realize they live on an island, surrounded by water on all sides. This came from a lot of educated people as well.
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Quoting pottery:

Personally, I LOVE that kind of downpour.
But when it happens almost every day like the last few months, this yard turns into a MudPit...
It is all clay. Slippery, Sticky, dries like concrete...


Kind of funny when we get those downpours. Locals just know what to expect and deal with it. Tourists think the world is coming to an end. LOL What's really fun is the looks I get driving in my Jeep from other people (bikini top, no doors or windows, rain gear on, music blaring above the tempest). :)
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Quoting CaptnDan142:


A flat island below sea level is called a sandbar or a reef, depending on composition. People don't live there.


Actually, now that I think about it, there is an area called Stiltsville south of Key Biscayne FL. There are houses on stilts over the reef/sand banks.
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875. DDR
WTH happened to the highway ???
Calpsed into the river today?
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Quoting BDADUDE:
Whatever you say dude but remember that this weekend a very dangerous storm is hitting us!!
Igor is a huge storm,but luckly it's forward speed is projected to pick up once it gets twords or pass bermuda.I don't think Bermuda would want a Frances.....Slow,and big moving.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16406
870. DDR
hey pottery
Got 1.3 inches here today.
only 52 inches? i've got 115 inches since May 14th.
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ok I looked up some information about 2005 ACE

After the K storm in 2005 the ACE was 102.34

After Ophelia (which is the storm that ended right around now) the ACE was 139.76

So although we are not up to 2005 right now in terms of time of year we are passed 2005 at the point of the K storm... also we are not that far behind 2005 otherwise as Ophelia produced a pretty good amount of ACE (without that storm 2005 would have 124 ACE)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Sometimes I think some of you adults on here are being unfair to the children,I and some other adults on here don't think that every child that comes on here should be punished.Becuase some are really interested in weather(Mh09,and weathernerdPr) are good exsamples of children that have interest in weather,and isn't on here to cuase trouble.Sadly some children,and adults alike come on here,and ruin the blog with trollish behavior.
TA 13 too...
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Quoting washingtonian115:
The question I want to ask for anyone that lives on a island is where do you go if the intire island is below sa level,and flat?.


A flat island below sea level is called a sandbar or a reef, depending on composition. People don't live there.
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Quoting pottery:

LOL
Well, it rained here again today. 2.25" with gusty winds from the southwest. Big branches down in my garden.
52.5" rainfall so far this season (from May), and the season ends (climo) in December.
Aint that exciting??

(well, I think it is more exciting than the ongoing Lamentations around here. But then, that's just me...)


We had quite a heavy downpour here in Norbrook. Traffic came to crawl as motorists avoided using roads that crossed gullys.

This is the last weekend for Bird shooting so the hunters are hoping for good weather this weekend.

Quite mundane here too!
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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
Yes, we evacuated to Dripping Springs, 15 miles west of Austin. The bayou near my house came out of its banks. The water got up to our garage door but did not make it in the house. The eye came directly over Hitchcock. My younger brother stayed here with the volunteer fire department and kept us update. He called during the calm of the eye.

My father-in-law in Galveston got 32" of water in his house. He did have flood insurance and finally got back in his house a year and a half later.

If the storm would have hit around Matagorda Bay, then I probably would have had about 3 to 4 feet in my house.


Some distant cousins of mine are on the death list for the 1900 storm to hit Galveston. The resultant seawall probably saved a lot of people's homes with Ike, but still much loss of property and life.

Umm, you really need to find "Star Trek" the TV show on DVD. I think I saw every episode back in the day of the dinosaurs...lol.
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:
Pottery---
I don't have a rain gauge because my yard is just too small,trees,etc, but I have seen my pool go up 4 inches in an hour from our
Florida storm cells that build and sit in one place. It still amazes me, but luckily we have no dirt here,just sand so the puddles disappear quickly.

Personally, I LOVE that kind of downpour.
But when it happens almost every day like the last few months, this yard turns into a MudPit...
It is all clay. Slippery, Sticky, dries like concrete...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24024
Quoting washingtonian115:
Sometimes I think some of you adults on here are being unfair to the children,I and some other adults on here don't think that every child that comes on here should be punished.Becuase some are really interested in weather(Mh09,and weathernerdPr) are good exsamples of children that have interest in weather,and isn't on here to cuase trouble.Sadly some children,and adults alike come on here,and ruin the blog with trollish behavior.
Whatever you say dude but remember that this weekend a very dangerous storm is hitting us!!
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Aristotle once said "One person doth not a blog maketh"
Quoting tropicfreak:


I'm just so confused and angry at what has happened this latter half of the week, i guess because this happpened everybody seems to be on edge.
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
This is probably one of the biggest blogs when it comes to the field of tropical meteorology. There will be trolls and all that good stuff (more like bad stuff, but I think you caught by drift) that will only come here to annoy, bother, etc the knowledgeable people such as StormW.

All I can say is, people will come and go, and yeah, Storm left, but we still have Levi, Drak, Kman, etc that will be great replacements for him.

That's all I gotta say, hopefully I don't get banned for it.

Yeah- I don't know what the hades I missed, or what happened, but wow! Where is everybody?
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Gee...It's apparent I missed quite a drama here in the last day. Anyone want to WU mail me what's gone down and the reason StormW left, I'd appreciate it. I'd read for myself, but the posts are gone.
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Quoting Chicklit:

Good for you, Dude.
Hope your hurricane prep is in order.
Please keep us informed of what's happening.
Will do acegirl. TY
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Pottery---
I don't have a rain gauge because my yard is just too small,trees,etc, but I have seen my pool go up 4 inches in an hour from our
Florida storm cells that build and sit in one place. It still amazes me, but luckily we have no dirt here,just sand so the puddles disappear quickly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.