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 AllBoardedUp:
It's all good! Are you the person on here a couple of nights ago who is attending Texas A&M and majoring in meteorology? I'm located in Hitchcock, across the bay from Galveston Island.
That would be 1900hurricane.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
What's this about a flip-flop? Did the GFS drop the cyclone? If so, how many runs? In any case, on Sept 17., I'd be surprised if there wasn't some cyclone indicated somewhere within a 384 hr. span. At least 1, climatogolicaly.


Evening all. CE, It's flip-flopping from Tx-Fl with it is what I think he meant. Still showing it. It's a whole bunch of runs in a row now...And with the catalyst there...Well, becoming less convinced the Conus is going to make it unscathed this year. Still a long way out though.
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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.
You are an asset to the blog. Many here value your opinions. My thinking is: perhaps, collateral damage.
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692. WXTXN
Quoting gulfbreeze:
What's going on in the western GOM?


That"s what I'm wondering!?!
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Quoting tropicfreak:


I apologize for attacking you, 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.
I can forgive.

And I did say I was going to flag any off topic posts. (And I did, for the truly off topic and/or antagonistic...no different than the previous year or so.)
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You've heard the expression about "company are like fish; they begin to smell after three days."
Same goes for people who expect too much from a blog.
We're all pretty independent here.
Anyone who needs more than chatter and exchanging ideas needs to go elsewhere for that.
That's the nature of this medium.
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Quoting KATRINABILOXIGIRL:
Ok, my turn. I came to this blog to learn as much as I could about the tropics and to maybe understand storms better due to the amount of storms that we get and the ones that I have gone through and others as well. I was told about this blog and many like StormW who could help me tounderstand better because of their knowledge. I have been watching closely lately due to all of the tropical activity and the amount of things that have been posted that relate to the tropics has become few and far between and more of an attack on others than anything of importance. So this has really turned me off to this blog and now I see many others as well feel this way. Now I am very sure that I will be POOFED, called a TROLL and many other things that I have been seeing lately just because I have spoken up. By all means, go ahead because this is what many of you do best. I feel I may continue to tune in every once in a while to get info from intelligent people like Levi and MH09 due to their knowledge and willingness to help other and that I value the info but I will try to find out where Storm has gone so that I can get the info I need. He never treated me like a TROLL but was always kind and informative and explained things so that I could understand them. With that being said, I pray that everyone remains safe from any possible storms that may come their way.


You have WU mail.

I too came here to be informed about the weather. I will surely miss the great jokes, but not the personal attacks.
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
Its a Real Shame.

The Purpose of this Blog was to Provide Important Accurate Information in People's Time Of Need.

What Has it Become? Its Not Worth Saying.


And just think, what was this blog like 5 years ago. No trolls no JFV hardly anyone(if any) attacking one another, people giving out resourceful and helpful info. When i first joined wunderground I hardly knew anything about weather, but Dr masters, W456, Levi, Miami, and stormW have been teaching me over years, now this blog has become a complete riot.
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And if atmoaggie leaves I'm filing a formal protest. I haven't finished watching his avatar yet. :)
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
What's this about a flip-flop? Did the GFS drop the cyclone? If so, how many runs? In any case, on Sept 17., I'd be surprised if there wasn't some cyclone indicated somewhere within a 384 hr. span. At least 1, climatogolicaly.
I never saw the GFS drop it...it just develops it a bit later in the run than previously.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:

I wouldnt call them experts...There are some including me who have worked in the field longer than they have been alive haha.
Maybe they are not "experts" but they do an excellent job and are working towards becoming experts. Their input is greatly appreciated.
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Quoting CalTex:
608. AllBoardedUp 1:30 AM GMT on September 18, 2010

Thank you for the clarification and apologies. I didn't mean to blow off steam, but it's been a frustrating few days for those of us not directly involved in yet witnessing all the drama.
It's all good! Are you the person on here a couple of nights ago who is attending Texas A&M and majoring in meteorology? I'm located in Hitchcock, across the bay from Galveston Island.
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Quoting txjac:
Maybe he was just having personal problems. It is hard to be a single parent with two children ...I know as I raised two on my own. Plus I'm pretty sure that had a regular job and then he would come on here to attempt to help the lurkers and others learn about tropical systems ...maybe it was just overload latelty?


What happened with Storm?
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Quoting KanKunKid:


I can't stay safe, I am an adventurer. It's not who I am. But, thanks for acknowledging my post. It was a typical TS and folks around here aren't frightened by them. Even Wilma in all her glory didn't scare the locals, so my efforts to be a "boy scout" were met with much skeptiscism and borderline derision. In the end, as usual, they were right and nothing happened of note.
Dammit. Not really. I loved that computer.
Ah, the loss of a loved one is always a grievous time. Hopefully ,the refreshments are up to snuff, to speed the process.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:

I wouldnt call them experts...There are some including me who have worked in the field longer than they have been alive haha.
Aww, c'mon, those 2 are right there.

A racing enthusiast and mechanic can tell you most everything about a motor, for example, but those details, officially, should come from an engineer. Doesn't mean the mechanic was wrong, just didn't have the alphabet soup behind his name.

The enthusiasts in here, the really bright ones, do know what they are talking about. As a met in the field, I used to find it surprising, notsomuch anymore. But no less interesting when I think about it.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh yeah, you will continue to see the final track of the cyclone being developed by the GFS flip-flop. A definitive track won't be know until the actual cyclone develops, if it ever will.
What's this about a flip-flop? Did the GFS drop the cyclone? If so, how many runs? In any case, on Sept 17., I'd be surprised if there wasn't some cyclone indicated somewhere within a 384 hr. span. At least 1, climatogolicaly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sammywammybamy:
Its a Real Shame.

The Purpose of this Blog was to Provide Important Accurate Information in People's Time Of Need.

What Has it Become? Its Not Worth Saying.
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.
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Quoting KanKunKid:
Just for those interested. I was being an entertainer in an outdoor pavillion in a small but quite popular town of Puerto Morelos Mexico performing with recording artist Mark Mulligan at a place known as the Cantina Habanero, during the wrath of Karl.
He (Karl) must not have appreciated my atristic contribution and made sure to it my main computer had a gram or 2 of seawater forced through the windows by high winds (about 60 mph) and fried my mother board in my house from across the room. Fortunetely I brought 5 computers into Mexico. The small one was stolen by corrupt police (which is a normal thing in Mexico) so now I am down to 3.

Karl whipped up a windstorm for an hour and then left for Campeche. More damage was done south, I am told. Basically it was a non-event for us (for those that care) and I am still alive but with one less computer.

That's my report and I'm out.
I have been mostly lurking today but glad to see you made it through okay.
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Quoting sammywammybamy:


Dont Forget ME! and My 3,000+ Images of Satilite Images of Hurricanes!


:P
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Quoting KoritheMan:
For those interested, I just finished writing a blog on Igor, Julia, Karl, and the African wave.


been waiting, thanks
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Quoting IamTheCanesSurfer:
Levi;

When you have the time, would it be possible to explain hurricane steering patterns. I looked at the WV but I can't figure out how to identify the weakness an hurricane will follow... thanks :)


I second that with a resounding, "Please!"
Member Since: September 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 138
Quoting CalTex:
To AtHomeInTexas and Texasgulf:

I'm in Victoria and am starting to get nervous about from all the chatter about a major hurricane in the gulf. Let's all pray that it doesn't pan out.

It's been a wild ride today, hasn't it? I'm glad that Karl stayed south and just sent us some of his excess moisture.


Hey Cal. Yes lots to watch out for and be thankful for so far. My busy time just started. BBL y'all.
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What's going on in the western GOM?
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If you want to actually FEEL what the poor souls who are inside of a monster hurricane go through, hop over to Amazon & buy "Island In A Storm" by Abby Sallenger. It has a big long "sub-title", sorta like a graduate student thesis has, but you can find it easily with just what I gave you above. With the recent flurry of bannings & such, I'm not going to link directly to it, as I'm not sure if that is acceptable here or not.

I bought it specifically because we are in hurri-season & thought it would make a good read while watching the action in the Atlantic. I was definitely not disappointed. I'm already 45% through it in just 2 days .... can't stop reading.

It's about the "Last Island Hurricane of 1856", which split that Louisiana island completely in half, killing around 1/2 of the 400 or so people vacationing there. The author often rings in a bit of what we NOW know about hurricanes, to contrast with what they knew back then .... or more accurately DIDN'T know. Much of the book is quotes from actual survivors, so you really do get lost in the reading & feel like you are actually right there on an island which is disappearing completely into the ocean .... VERY chilling.

It's available on Kindle. If you don't have one then you can download a free program from Amazon which allows you to read a Kindle formatted book using computer.

I was actually wanting a newer book, called "The Last Days Of Last Island". But it's not avilable for Kindle, so you'll have to wait on that one to ship. But I don't see how that one could be any better than this older book. Best read I've had in a LONG time .... and very fitting for the specific time period we are currently going through.

There are several times when you'll read something from one of the survivors, and if you know a bit about how hurricanes work, will immediately realize what is going on. One instance is how they mention a bunch of lightning popping up right as the storm got REALLY bad. Even with a few weather-wise people on the island, they didn't realize what that meant. But today we know that often signifies a huricane which is rapidly intensifying.

Go grab it & you'll soon think that you have been mysteriously transported right into Igor's eyewall.
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:

I wouldnt call them experts...There are some including me who have worked in the field longer than they have been alive haha.
LOL, I wish I was an expert. I still have a lot, and I mean a lot to learn.
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Quoting KanKunKid:
Just for those interested. I was being an entertainer in an outdoor pavillion in a small but quite popular town of Puerto Morelos Mexico performing with recording artist Mark Mulligan at a place known as the Cantina Habanero, during the wrath of Karl.
He (Karl) must not have appreciated my atristic contribution and made sure to it my main computer had a gram or 2 of seawater forced through the windows by high winds (about 60 mph) and fried my mother board in my house from across the room. Fortunetely I brought 5 computers into Mexico. The small one was stolen by corrupt police (which is a normal thing in Mexico) so now I am down to 3.

Karl whipped up a windstorm for an hour and then left for Campeche. More damage was done south, I am told. Basically it was a non-event for us (for those that care) and I am still alive but with one less computer.

That's my report and I'm out.
Glad to hear you're ok KanKun. There were more than a few worried about you. Come back when you can.
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652. KYDan
Quoting KanKunKid:
Just for those interested. I was being an entertainer in an outdoor pavillion in a small but quite popular town of Puerto Morelos Mexico performing with recording artist Mark Mulligan at a place known as the Cantina Habanero, during the wrath of Karl.
He (Karl) must not have appreciated my atristic contribution and made sure to it my main computer had a gram or 2 of seawater forced through the windows by high winds (about 60 mph) and fried my mother board in my house from across the room. Fortunetely I brought 5 computers into Mexico. The small one was stolen by corrupt police (which is a normal thing in Mexico) so now I am down to 3.

Karl whipped up a windstorm for an hour and then left for Campeche. More damage was done south, I am told. Basically it was a non-event for us (for those that care) and I am still alive but with one less computer.

That's my report and I'm out.


Thank you very much for the report. I am sorry for your loss of an electronic friend, but am happy you are well, and sustained no more damage than you did. Can you tell how the rest of the community fared?
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Levi;

When you have the time, would it be possible to explain hurricane steering patterns. I looked at the WV but I can't figure out how to identify the weakness an hurricane will follow... thanks :)
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Quoting TcuFrogs:
We all have choices and being on this blog is one of them. If your not happy with who is or isn't on here, you always have the option of going to another blog. I live in the zone, so I come to here to read and try to learn, but at the end of the day, I rely on the NHC. End of Story.

second that opinion.
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So many of the really good bloggers post very infrequently now. Hopefully if this blog gets back to mostly weather posts they will return and grace us amateurs with their knowledge
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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.