Karl hits the Yucatan; two simultaneous Cat 4s in the Atlantic for 2nd time in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:37 PM GMT on September 15, 2010

Share this Blog
5
+

The Atlantic hurricane season of 2010 kicked into high gear this morning, with the landfall of Tropical Storm Karl in Mexico, and the simultaneous presence of two Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, Igor and Julia. Tropical Storm Karl's formation yesterday marked the fifth earliest date that an eleventh named storm of the season has formed. The only years more active this early in the season were 2005, 1995, 1936 and 1933. This morning's unexpected intensification of Hurricane Julia into a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds has set a new record--Julia is now the strongest hurricane on record so far east. When one considers that earlier this year, Hurricane Earl became the fourth strongest hurricane so far north, it appears that this year's record SSTs have significantly expanded the area over which major hurricanes can exist over the Atlantic. This morning is just the second time in recorded history that two simultaneous Category 4 or stronger storms have occurred in the Atlantic. The only other occurrence was on 06 UTC September 16, 1926, when the Great Miami Hurricane and Hurricane Four were both Category 4 storms for a six-hour period. The were also two years, 1999 and 1958, when we missed having two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes by six hours. Julia's ascension to Category 4 status makes it the 4th Category 4 storm of the year. Only two other seasons have had as many as five Category 4 or stronger storms (2005 and 1999), so 2010 ranks in 3rd place in this statistic. This year is also the earliest a fourth Category 4 or stronger storm has formed (though the fourth Category 4 of 1999, Hurricane Gert, formed just 3 hours later on today's date in 1999.) We've also had four Cat 4+ storms in just twenty days, which beats the previous record for shortest time span for four Cat 4+ storms to appear. The previous record was 1999, 24 days (thanks to Phil Klozbach of CSU for this stat.)


Figure 1. A rare double feature: two simultaneous Category 4 hurricanes in the Atlantic, for only the second time in recorded history.

Karl
Tropical Storm Karl made landfall as a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds and a central pressure of 991 mb at 8:45am EDT this morning on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, just north of the Belize border. Karl took advantage of nearly ideal conditions for intensification, and in just fifteen hours intensified from a tropical disturbance to a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds. Had Karl managed to get its act together just one day earlier, it could have been a major hurricane at landfall this morning. Fortunately, Karl has a relatively small area of strong winds--tropical storm force winds extend out just 45 miles from the center of the storm, and wind damage is not the main concern. Heavy rains are the main concern, and Belize radar shows heavy rain bands from Karl spreading ashore over northern Belize near the border with Mexico. Cancun radar shows that heavy rains are relatively limited, though, near the tourist havens of Cancun and Cozumel.


Figure 2. Radar image of Karl at landfall this morning near the northern Belize/Mexican border. Image credit: Belize National Meteorological Service.

Forecast for Karl
Karl will traverse the Yucatan Peninsula today and emerge into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche Thursday morning as a much weakened tropical storm, with perhaps 40 - 45 mph top winds. Once in the Gulf, conditions for intensification are ideal, with wind shear is expected to be low, 5 - 10 knots, SSTs will be warm, 29°C - 30°C, and the atmosphere very moist. These conditions, combined with the topography of the surrounding coast which tends to enhance counter-clockwise flow, should allow Karl to intensify into a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall between Tampico and Vercruz, Mexico on Saturday morning. However, since Karl is a small storm, it is possible that passage over the Yucatan will disrupt the storm enough so that it will be much weaker. The ridge of high pressure steering Karl westwards is quite strong, and it is very unlikely that the storm will turn northwest and hit Texas. NHC is giving Brownsville, Texas, an 10% chance of receiving tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph.

Igor
Hurricane Igor put on a burst of intensification last night to put it at its strongest yet, a top-end Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds. Igor has weakened slightly this morning, but remains a formidable presence in the Central Atlantic with its 145 mph winds. Igor continues to show the classic appearance of a major hurricane on satellite imagery, with a well-formed eye, symmetrical cloud pattern, plenty of low-level spiral bands, and solid upper-level outflow on all sides.


Figure 3. Hurricane Igor as captured at 18 UTC Tuesday September 14, 2010, from the International Space Station. Image credit: Douglas Wheelock, NASA.

Intensity forecast for Igor
Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and is expected to remain low for the next 2 - 3 days. Waters are warm, 29°C, and will remain 29°C for the next 2 - 3 days. Igor is well armored against any intrusions of dry air for at least the next three days. These conditions should allow Igor to remain at major hurricane status for the next three days. The hurricane will probably undergo one of the usual eyewall replacement cycles intense hurricanes commonly have, where the eyewall collapses and a new eyewall forms from an outer spiral band. This will weaken the hurricane by 10 - 20 mph when it occurs, and may be responsible for the 10 mph weakening Igor experienced early this morning. Igor may regain its lost intensity over the next 36 hours. By Saturday morning, 36 hours before the core of Igor is expected to pass Bermuda's latitude, the trough of low pressure steering Igor northwestwards should bring moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots to the storm, weakening it. The SHIPS models predicts shear will rise to the high range, 20 - 30 knots, during the final 24 hours of the storm's approach to Bermuda. Igor will also be tracking over cooler 28°C waters during this period, and substantial weakening by perhaps 20 - 30 mph can be expected. Igor will still probably be at least a Category 2 hurricane on its closest pass by Bermuda on Sunday. NHC is giving Bermuda a 13% chance of experiencing hurricane force winds from Igor, but this probability is likely too low. The Bermuda Weather Service is calling for Category 1 or 2 hurricane conditions for the island on Sunday, with 20 - 25 foot waves in the offshore waters.

Track forecast for Igor
The track forecast for Igor remains unchanged. Igor has made its long-anticipated turn to the west-northwest, in response to the steering influence of a broad trough of low pressure moving across the Western Atlantic. This trough will steer Igor several hundred miles to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and high waves should be the only impact of Igor on the islands. Igor appears likely to be a threat to Bermuda, and that island can expect tropical storm force winds as early as Saturday. Igor will be moving at about 12 - 15 mph as it approaches Bermuda. Tropical storm force winds of 39+ mph will probably extend out about 250 miles to the north of Igor on Saturday, so Bermuda can expect 18 hours of tropical storm force winds before the core of Igor makes its closest pass. In all, Bermuda is likely to experience a very long pounding of 24 - 36 hours with winds in excess of tropical storm force.

The models have been in substantial agreement over multiple runs that Igor will miss the U.S. East Coast, and the danger to the U.S. will probably only come in the form of high waves. Large swells from Igor have arrived in the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and will spread westwards over the next few days, reaching the U.S. East Coast on Friday. By Saturday, much of the East Coast from northern Florida to Cape Cod Massachusetts can expect waves of 3 - 4 meters (10 - 13 feet), causing dangerous rip currents and significant beach erosion. These waves will continue through Sunday then gradually die down. The latest NOAA marine forecast for Cape Hatteras, North Carolina calls for 8 - 10 foot waves on Saturday, and 9 - 12 foot waves on Sunday.

Igor may pass very close to Newfoundland, Canada, but it is too early too assess the likelihood of this happening.

Julia
Hurricane Julia put on a remarkable and unexpected burst of intensification this morning to become the season's fourth Category 4 storm. Julia's 135 mph winds make it the strongest hurricane on record so far east; the previous record was held by the eighth storm of 1926 which was only a 120 mph Category 3 hurricane at Julia's current longitude. Julia's intensification was a surprise, since SSTs in the region are about 27.5°C, which is just 1°C above the threshold needed to sustain a Category 1 hurricane. Julia is headed northwest, out to sea, and it is unlikely that this storm will trouble any land areas. SSTs will steadily cool to 26.5°C today, and further intensification today is unlikely. Shear will be moderate, 10 - 20 knots, over Julia during the next two days, then rise sharply to 30 knots 3 - 5 days from now, as Julia moves within 1000 miles of Igor and begins to experience strong northwesterly winds from her big brother's upper level outflow. This should substantially weaken Julia.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The GFS and ECMWF models develop a new tropical depression a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa 3 - 6 days from now. The GFS also develops a tropical depression in the eastern Caribbean 6 - 7 days from now.

Portlight's 2-year anniversary
On September 14, 2008, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike on Texas and Louisiana moved members of the wunderground community to put into action their own impromptu relief effort. From this humble beginning has grown a disaster-relief charity I have been proud to support--Portlight.org. We've been blessed this hurricane season with relatively few landfalling storms, so Portlight's new disaster relief trailer (Figure 4), financed with a $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, has yet to be deployed. With five weeks of peak hurricane season still to come, the new trailer may yet get a call to action. The mobile kitchen in the trailer will be able to feed several hundred people per day, and the trailer is equipped with portable ramps to help with shelter accessibility, as well as durable medical equipment to facilitate mobility and independence for survivors. The trailer is mobile, and Portlight is willing to load it up and fly it to Bermuda, if Igor ends up making a mess there!

The lack of landfalling storms has allowed Portlight to continue to concentrate their efforts on Haiti, where their assistance has been a tremendous boost for those most in need, the disabled. Portlight is working on constructing steel shelters out of shipping containers for homeless Haitians, as detailed in the Haitian Relief Recap blog post. Please visit the Portlight.org web site or the Portlight blog to learn more and donate. A few other items of note:

Portlight has been able to facilitate providing assistance to people with disabilities in Pakistan, where the worst natural disaster in their history has left 4 million homeless. While not directly involved in delivering relief, Portlight has been able to connect local Disabled People's Organizations with important sources of food, water, filtration systems, and medical equipment.

ABC News4 in Charleston broadcast a story about the Portlight relief trailer, and Portlight has also been featured on the Pacifica Radio Network.

Portlight launched a quarterly newsletter, The Portlight View, which can be seen on the newly redesigned website.


Figure 4. The new Portlight disaster relief trailer, funded by their $21,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 2236 - 2186

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66Blog Index

Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

it is truly amazing huh
they are so smart they are stupid

on a weather note
it was released today that we have had the hottest and longest summer since records began in southern ontario and early winter forecasts are indicating long cold winter with an above normal snowfall for grt lakes region snow may start as early as last week of oct first week of november


They are already calling for possible snow in Calgary :) Thats almost as good as snow in Toronto :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FSUCOOPman:
Link

Is the Ukmet on crack or is this something to consider?
Hmmm, looks like a trof-grab.



Gonna have to look further into that...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2234. angiest

Quoting will40:
it darn sure will be a dif storm on the east side as compared to the west side.
Just figure in the wind flow
I'm saying I'm not sure that is as valid with very strong systems as it is with weaker systems.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2228. MZT
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
on a weather note
it was released today that we have had the hottest and longest summer since records began in southern ontario
I was thinking earlier today that it seems to have been a longer than usual summer in the southeast. It's mid Sept and we're still getting low 90F days.

Hurricane season is aided by temperature gradients, slightly cool air over warm water. So this could have pushed the "peak" of the season out a week or two beyond the common Sept 10 date.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2227. angiest

Quoting wildheron:
ask the people on bolivar side of IKE--as opposed to those who were west of galveston.
West of the eye took substantial damage, despite less surge.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2226. JLPR2
I'm confused...
Old time bloggers are now arguing with each other I think I'm going to leave for awhile and come back when things have calmed down.

Later all!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2224. will40
it darn sure will be a dif storm on the east side as compared to the west side.
Just figure in the wind flow
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2222. hcubed
Quoting TexasGulf:
A suggestion for Admin... to remove the trolls while still allowing non-paid new members to post their opinions or questions... why not implement a simple policy.

Non-paid members can only post up to 2-times per day.

That way, any trolls can be held in check. Even if they have multiple ID's, to cause problems on the blog they'll need to have at least 10 or 12 different identities.

Non-members can still ask questions and participate, but it's limited to two posts per day... so they can't cause problems with random comments.

If that policy was implemented, you could watch the posts go down by at least 1,000 per day.


Problem is, some of them DO have multiple ID's - and will even talk to themselves to try to get something started.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

it is truly amazing huh
they are so smart they are stupid

on a weather note
it was released today that we have had the hottest and longest summer since records began in southern ontario and early winter forecasts are indicating long cold winter with an above normal snowfall for grt lakes region snow may start as early as last week of oct first week of november


Baltimore recorded it's most 90+ days since 1988 (56+) and that was last week... so we're going down from here.

The continent is cooling and the waters are still boiling. Not good...

GFS has been very scarey.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting angiest:

As strong as Igor is I am not sure that is really true.  How much difference will there really be between the east and west sides?
ask the people on bolivar side of IKE--as opposed to those who were west of galveston.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sailingallover:

You need to pay more attention to the mid latittude surface charts.. you said the exact same thing about Colin and Danille
In Danillesc case you were talking about a trough in California when the trough to recurve her had not formed yet but the string of lows that formed it was in the midwest..


You sir, need to calm down and get over it! Everyone makes mistakes, and I don't think Storm made one. You're attacking him because of a "mistake?" POOF
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2213. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Orcasystems:


Is it just me... or do we appear to have an over abundance of morons on here tonight?

My list is almost up to 60... and it looks like I could add 10 more without really trying.

it is truly amazing huh
they are so smart they are stupid

on a weather note
it was released today that we have had the hottest and longest summer since records began in southern ontario and early winter forecasts are indicating long cold winter with an above normal snowfall for grt lakes region snow may start as early as last week of oct first week of november
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sailingallover:

Speed is also in the equation..
I like Atmoz's explanation on wiki (yea, wiki):

"Beta drift refers to the southwestward motion in the Southern Hemisphere and the northwestward motion in the Northern Hemisphere of a tropical cyclone caused by the variation in the Coriolis parameter. Also referred to as beta gyres or the beta effect. The drift results in a propagation speed of about 1–2 meters per second (3.6–7.2 kilometers per hour, 2.2–4.4 miles per hour, 2–4 knots).

For a mesoscale system like a tropical cyclone, there is a significant difference between the value of the Coriolis parameter at the northern edge and the southern edge. As a result of the circulation of winds around the storm, the relative vorticity is changed because the absolute vorticity is advected around the storm."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Atmoz/Beta_drift


Caption: Schematic illustration of the beta gyres in translating coordinates showing the self-advection with homogeneous asymmetric potential vorticity (PV) in the vortex core, surrounded by a region with Rossby-wave balance between radial and tangential PV advection, which is in turn surrounded by a free potential vortex region where the asymmetric PV induces flow outside the vortex. The asymmetry illustrated is a normal mode of the vortex.
From: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/WWW000/text/B_Gyre2.html

atmo: Yeah, some speed would be important, but the relative difference of 20 knots doesn't seem to have the effect of 20 nm RMW does.

About the relative difference of the intensity and size, see: M. DeMaria, Tropical cyclone motion in a nondivergent barotropic model, Mon. Wea. Rev. 113 (1985),. 2346-2357.
(I *think* this is where the BAM suite came from...)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xcool:

Thanks xcool. That's really an amazing sight!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FSUCOOPman:
Link

Is the Ukmet on crack or is this something to consider?


Crack I say. No way he turns back north into the ridge. He'll dissipate in the mountains of central Mexico.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2208. will40
101 if he keeps that west stairstep may just hope that may Bermuda would be spared a direct hit
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Bleh, bad night on the blog...too much arguing. I'm out for the night.

Have a great night everyone!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting StormW:


Get over it...there was a big gap in the ridge...you know, "that" trof that was supposed to catch him the first time that was directly north of him. He pumped the ridge plain and simple.


Storm W Thanks as always. Still new here just been in meetings all week. Just asking if we have anything to worry aboub in the next week or two on the LA coast. Working offshore. Thanks in advance
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2203. help4u
Posters are dying like flies tonight!Wait there is another!Smack!!lol!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey Storm, will you still be writing your blog on this site or will you set up shop elsewhere? Thanks :) Don't know why people feel the need to be mean with all of the troubles going on in the world....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
For my 500th comment, i'd like to thank every one that has been of help here during my 2 years here on WU. Grothar, nyhurricaneboy, Ben, RobTX, Cody, StormW, and countless others have made it entertaining to come on here and talk about weather, something I can rarely do with my friends. I look forward to coming on here for the next 2 years and even longer.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2197. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
This arguing is very pointless. I, much like everyone else, enjoy reading this blog on a daily basis to learn and understand what is going on in the tropics.

I find it great that you can post questions and concerns about the weather and hope to get answers.

Seriously, let's stop fighting and respect one another and focus on the tropics. Everyone should respect each other's opinions. If you do not have an opinion that could benefit the educational process of the tropics, then do not post a thing. If you simply want to say "Fish storm" or some other useless fact, then you are missing the purpose of this forum.

Alrighty, enough of this. Karl has maintained himself today and will likely emerge back into the Bay of Campeche and become stronger. I honestly see Karl being Alex's twin brother.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2195. flsky
Quoting hunkerdown:
ahhhhhh, no

Oh, I guess that's the solution then.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting brainpimp:


You guys missed the whole point. He was belittling the guy that said hitting Bermuda meant nobody got hit.


yeah, cuz there are PEOPLE in Bermuda!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


Sorry, I agree with Aussie... sarcasm does not reflect well in the written word... its an inflection... it was a stupid thing to say... period.


You guys missed the whole point. He was belittling the guy that said hitting Bermuda meant nobody got hit.
Member Since: September 10, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 41
2189. flsky
Quoting will40:


nope or JFV would be on welfare

haha
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:

I don't care if it was sarcasm, I shouldn't of been said in the 1st place. Sarcasm has a place. and It's not in this blog.
That's it. I'm out, forever.
Goodbye
ahhh too late darn anyways it isnt ur fault mistakes just have get though it
Member Since: July 13, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 10796
Link

Is the Ukmet on crack or is this something to consider?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
OK, I spend 7 minutes watching STSimons nice video illustrating how far obs/forecasting has come, and now we've lost Aussie too. WT...
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414

Viewing: 2236 - 2186

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.