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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Making a summary through the first half off the season. We can see that the major concentration of tracks have been in the eastern-central pacific as typical cape-verde systems and the west GOM this year. I can't remember a season with 4 landfalls in the western GOM. And surprisingly enough the caribbean has been unusually quiet allowing for record TCHPs.





Let's hope the last half of the season shows more fish, and less hits for us in the Western Gulf and those in Bermuda which could get real damage from Igor.
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Quoting FlyingScotsman:


You're forgetting that it doesn't extend 345 miles on all sides--345 miles is on the NE side only. So it's probably less than 600 right now, but is supposed to keep growing...

Someone has put it on Wikipedia as having a Gale Diameter of 518 miles, but I don't know where they got that from.
In addition, pre-QuikScat, and pre-SFMR, our data in this category is horrid.

Even then, only have data when HHs are present or when a scatterometer passes overhead. Not always all that frequent. (Unless passing a nearby buoy, also not that frequent.)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting TOMSEFLA:
hurricane chaser just tweeted he has landed in bermuda.he plans to locate on the sw shore. has three others with him they have video and audio and will place there weather station about 1/2 mile from the coast. they will not be able to stream there product however the video should be worth the wait.
This reminds me. Anybody heard from CycloneOz? I remember he went out to Bermuda for one of the storms in 08 or 09 but didn't get much footage. I'd be curious to know if he's attempting to intercept Igor.
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Quoting Dakster:
Sorry. Robert M320... Wiki says 7 Million and it is the third most populos city in mexico..

"The population of 7 million is the third largest in Mexico."

Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veracruz





Actually, we're both wrong, Dakster. The STATE of Veracruz has pop. 7 MIL. The city has a little over 500,000, which I think someone did post earlier. Live and learn, I guess. Hopefully, the people there were prepared.
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193. xcool


12Z Canadian ensembles
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Quoting victoriahurricane:


I think you mean increase, but yes that's very strange indeed. Maybe proximity to land?


Yes, I meant increase. Under good conditions, particularly small storms like Andrew & Charlie, these storms rapidly intensify until landfall. Mexico caught a huge break because things could have been a lot worse.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128654
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Anyone seen this?

IGOR IS AN UNUSUALLY LARGE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 345 MILES...555 KM.

That would be a diameter of 690 miles!


You're forgetting that it doesn't extend 345 miles on all sides--345 miles is on the NE side only. So it's probably less than 600 right now, but is supposed to keep growing...

Someone has put it on Wikipedia as having a Gale Diameter of 518 miles, but I don't know where they got that from.
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188. xcool
scott39




12z old image.give you kind idea
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

I remember back in the day when Ivan (another I storm) looked big... XD


Well, you look at the names for the biggest cyclones...

FaIth.
GabrIelle
Igor
GIlbert
Isabel
DorIs

ConspIracy!
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128654
Quoting Want2learn:
OK will someone please post a trough map for dummies like myself that is labeled showing the something that is going to pull Igor upward.

Thanks


You also might want to spend some time looking at an AtlanticWater vapor loop (WVL) to get an idea how the how the H and L's interact. Helps me anyway.
:)
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how do they determine diameter.. NW quad plus SE quad or highest quad times 2???

because that would break the record of 605 mile diameter set by hurricane Faith
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Quoting Dakster:
Sorry. Robert M320... Wiki says 7 Million and it is the third most populos city in mexico..

"The population of 7 million is the third largest in Mexico."

Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veracruz




That is for the Mexican state of Veracruz, not the city of the same name.
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Quoting TornadoS100:
I thought that hurricane karl was cat 1
To me, It looks like something trying to form in the N/W Gomex ..Seems to far away for Hurricane Karls influence.
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175. srada
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Anyone seen this?

IGOR IS AN UNUSUALLY LARGE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 345 MILES...555 KM.

That would be a diameter of 690 miles!


I posted yesterday that Bermuda and Cape Hattaras is 650 miles apart from each other, if Igor continues this NW track with those west wobbles and dosent make that N turn, we MAY be looking at something different..jmo
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Thank you man....
Quoting asgolfr999:


Imagine a trough is exactly that, like a rain gutter, and a ridge exactly that, a raised area which is difficult to traverse. When a low, which you should imagine to be fluid, reaches a trough, it attempts to run away into it, just like a gutter, when it encounters a ridge, it cannot go through so it goes around. That's how i always simplify it to myself, helps me remember, and if I am ridiculously wrong there are many here who are qualified to correct me.
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Quoting Cotillion:


To compare:

IKE REMAINS A VERY LARGE HURRICANE AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 120 MILES...195 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 275 MILES...445 KM. DURING
THE PAST HOUR...HURRICANE FORCE WIND GUSTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED ON
GALVESTON ISLAND AND REPORTS FROM NOAA AND AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE
AIRCRAFT INDICATE SUSTAINED HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ARE JUST OFFSHORE
GALVESTON ISLAND.

'I' hurricanes these past few years... Let's say they put the 'I' in BIG.

I remember back in the day when Ivan (another I storm) looked big... XD
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Given that the definitions of trough and ridge are:
TROUGH - An elongated area of low atmospheric pressure that is associated with an area of minimum cyclonic circulation. The opposite of a ridge.

RIDGE - An elongated area of high atmospheric pressure that is associated with an area of maximum anticyclonic circulation. The opposite of a trough.

What is steering Igor right now a Ridge or a Trough?


Imagine a trough is exactly that, like a rain gutter, and a ridge exactly that, a raised area which is difficult to traverse. When a low, which you should imagine to be fluid, reaches a trough, it attempts to run away into it, just like a gutter, when it encounters a ridge, it cannot go through so it goes around. That's how i always simplify it to myself, helps me remember, and if I am ridiculously wrong there are many here who are qualified to correct me.
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Quoting RobertM320:


Thanks for the proper info. My only point was the population was around 1 million, not 7 million as was earlier posted. Where it ranks as regards to the entire country is actually irrelevant. It's still a lot of people in harm's way.


Yes, the State of Department at Mexico has stated that Karl could affect more than 15 million inhabitants.
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Quoting StormSurgeon:
Appears in this sat. loop that Igor is certainly adjusting to the weakness.

Igor

IMHO Igor is trying to settle out a huge eye - the red covers part of new eye/EW - keep watching the loop the 'hot' comma will rotate back around - pinhole eye is likely remnant of old eye - scale limit dark may (or may not) be resolution of old eye...
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Igor would be included as one of the largest hurricanes in diameter on record...
Quoting Cotillion:


To compare:

IKE REMAINS A VERY LARGE HURRICANE AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 120 MILES...195 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 275 MILES...445 KM. DURING
THE PAST HOUR...HURRICANE FORCE WIND GUSTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED ON
GALVESTON ISLAND AND REPORTS FROM NOAA AND AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE
AIRCRAFT INDICATE SUSTAINED HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ARE JUST OFFSHORE
GALVESTON ISLAND.

'I' hurricanes these past few years... Let's say they put the 'I' in BIG.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting 1900hurricane:
Anyone seen this?

IGOR IS AN UNUSUALLY LARGE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 345 MILES...555 KM.

That would be a diameter of 690 miles!



i dont think i have evere seen it that high be for
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
Sorry. Robert M320... Wiki says 7 Million and it is the third most populos city in mexico..

"The population of 7 million is the third largest in Mexico."

Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veracruz



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Great site to follow tracks of Karl and read news and graphs regarding Karl's discussion.

Link
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Quoting mtyweatherfan90:


That ain't true, the population might, but not the ranking of the most populous entity in the country. It ranks around 10th. JFYI. :)

Several landslides have left communities isolated at the mountanious region of Orizaba and Poza Rica in Veracruz State.


Thanks for the proper info. My only point was the population was around 1 million, not 7 million as was earlier posted. Where it ranks as regards to the entire country is actually irrelevant. It's still a lot of people in harm's way.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Anyone seen this?

IGOR IS AN UNUSUALLY LARGE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 345 MILES...555 KM.

That would be a diameter of 690 miles!


To compare:

IKE REMAINS A VERY LARGE HURRICANE AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 120 MILES...195 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 275 MILES...445 KM. DURING
THE PAST HOUR...HURRICANE FORCE WIND GUSTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED ON
GALVESTON ISLAND AND REPORTS FROM NOAA AND AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE
AIRCRAFT INDICATE SUSTAINED HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ARE JUST OFFSHORE
GALVESTON ISLAND.

'I' hurricanes these past few years... Let's say they put the 'I' in BIG.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Given that the definitions of trough and ridge are:
TROUGH - An elongated area of low atmospheric pressure that is associated with an area of minimum cyclonic circulation. The opposite of a ridge.

RIDGE - An elongated area of high atmospheric pressure that is associated with an area of maximum anticyclonic circulation. The opposite of a trough.

What is steering Igor right now a Ridge or a Trough?
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Quoting xcool:
scott39 gfs call for September 30
Thanks, Is that the begginning of developement or a land strike?
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Veracruz, Mexico WunderMap®
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128654
I thought that hurricane karl was cat 1
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KARL Floater - Dvorak Infrared Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128654
Anyone seen this?

IGOR IS AN UNUSUALLY LARGE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND
OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL
STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 345 MILES...555 KM.

That would be a diameter of 690 miles!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
150. xcool
scott39 gfs call for September 30
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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.