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

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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

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Looks like Julia decided to take a right at Albuquerque.

Talk about off the forecast track, lol.

FYI the floater for Julia is 6 hours old.
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Quoting MILLERTIME1:
I think Karl might have been a hurricane at land fall.


maybe- its possible but I think the hurricane hunters only found 65 mph winds or less...
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882. DDR
Trindiad met office
Heavy showers over South-western Trinidad


Tobago and particularly Trinidad should expect
sporadic afternoon showers and thundershowers as
a result of thermally driven localized
instability.

Some of these showers and thundershowers can be
heavy or intense and will favour western
districts of Trinidad but may not exclude other
local districts.
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Quoting FLdewey:

Are you trying to make an Extenze joke? Those are copyrighted!


Just trying to get an idea of how big Igor is compared to some of the larger storms in history
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Link

Amazing structure to Igor. It is amazing to continue to watch his evolution.
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Quoting sebastianflorida:
YEA, A LOT OF FOLKS RESIDE IN fLORIDA, if you reside here, then all storms are comming here until they landfall elsewhere or are by Nova scotia

How true it is.That is a good way of looking at it if you are a Florida resident. Living just 30 miles from the Florida border, I kinna adopt this same philosophy.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
New wave is located around 22W 8N.... New cyclogenesis scenario compared with Igor and Julia...

Tropical Storm IGOR (AL112010)
Advisory #1
Advisory Information
Valid at: 11:00 AM EDT Wed September 08, 2010
Location: 13.7 N, 23.5 W
Maximum Wind: 35 knots (40 mph)

Tropical Depression TWELVE (Julia)
Advisory #1
Advisory Information
Valid at: 11:00 AM EDT Sun September 12, 2010
Location: 12.7 N, 21.4 W
Maximum Wind: 30 knots (35 mph)


Africa
http://sirocco.accuwea ther.com/sat_mosaic_640x480_public/IR/isaafrs.gif


4 named storms....the long range models were projecting this...
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BDAwx, thanks for the update on Bermuda. It is a very dangerous situation for the island. Outflow of Igor is improving once again as anticyclonic upper level outflow is present and very strong as seen by the cirrus overcast on the southern side of the storm. Igor is strengthening with a convective impulse is occurring once again on the NW quadrant of Igor, indicates that environment is not having any effects on him right now. He is a beautiful storm and will be even more beautiful/dangerous once the EWRC completes.
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I am a fish caster but i now think gulf will be hit by cat2 hurricane or higher before end of month.
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I think Karl might have been a hurricane at land fall.
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Karl looks like he's moving due west...
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New wave is located around 8N 22W.... New cyclogenesis scenario compared with Igor and Julia...

Tropical Storm IGOR (AL112010)
Advisory #1
Advisory Information
Valid at: 11:00 AM EDT Wed September 08, 2010
Location: 13.7 N, 23.5 W
Maximum Wind: 35 knots (40 mph)

Tropical Depression TWELVE (Julia)
Advisory #1
Advisory Information
Valid at: 11:00 AM EDT Sun September 12, 2010
Location: 12.7 N, 21.4 W
Maximum Wind: 30 knots (35 mph)


Africa
http://sirocco.accuwea ther.com/sat_mosaic_640x480_public/IR/isaafrs.gif
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9694
Quoting Drakoen:
Choo choo! Come on ride the wave train!

(welcome to a strong La Nina, folks!)
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How big is Igor compared to other large hurricanes?
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Quoting wayfaringstranger:


where is destinj?


I may have offended him by saying he was the drummer in that youtube video.
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Quoting Titoxd:


Depends on where the low-level center dies out. If it doesn't die, then it'll be Karl throughout.
Its almost like a bad football play that went wrong or like watching S Florida play football....

LOL.
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Igor heading this way

Buoy Station 41044 - South Atlantic

Link

Link

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Quoting FLdewey:

Okay well to clarify yes it's a good time if you lived on the island of Bermuda to calmly prepare.

My comment was it was a bit early for people on this blog to start flipping out... but then again people freak out about storms that don't even exist yet, so go nuts.

I just hope they save that guy on the rig in the Gulf. I wonder if he survived Karl?
Perhaps we'll be favored with a fictional account, of a fictional rescue, of the fictional person. Need more cannon fodder. You flowing with the recent fishing theme?
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting FLdewey:
Drought talk killed the blog... comments just dried up.


where is destinj?
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Wow, just came out of a meeting and checked back on something I wrote a while back and it turns out it was moderated out for violation of community standards or something, wonder what I said that was offensive or whatever... of course there were about 50 comments that were modded out at that time so I guess I missed something... If somehow I offended someone (though I really don't see how), I appologize. Oh well...
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Quoting TexasGulf:
If you follow the GFS charts, Karl appears to go across Mexico to emerge in the Pacific as a disorganized system, reforms and moves Southeast along the coast to cross Mexico again and into the Bay of Campeche on about September 30th. From there, the setup would have it drifting North over the Gulf in the wake of Lisa (or whatever that big GFS Gulf hurricane is named toward end-of-month).

Question: If Karl crosses Mexico, reorganizes in the Pacific, makes landfall again & crosses Mexico into the Bay of Campeche to re-organize for a 3rd time into a tropical storm... is it still named Karl?

I know storms have crossed over Mexico before to re-organize in the other basin... but has any storm ever done that twice?



Depends on where the low-level center dies out. If it doesn't die, then it'll be Karl throughout.
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well im back! looks like we have two cat 4's, a ts, and a nasty major hurricane for st pete at the end of month...anything else?
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857. BDAwx
A Bermudian's perspective.
There is a huge amount of talk about Igor going around the island. But not many people seem to know what it is doing and what that means for them. So people are talking about Igor but not necessarily preparing for Igor. Comments like "Igor will swerve away like the other two" suggest to me that a select few people have become complacent - but not a lot of people have this mentality. On the other hand there are people who are scared, and others who are excited - I find there are more people who are excited. A lot of Bermudians see hurricanes as a kind of "snow day" because "the causeway" gets closed and therefore all government offices get closed because people from St. George's can't get across the causeway to get to and from work and school.
On a note about power outages - the system in Bermuda has definitely gotten better in the past decade, ten years ago a gust to 30/40mph would knock out my power. Today, however, it takes gusts to at the very least 60/70mph to knock out my power. Probably due to a more sophisticated grid and tree trimming works that have cleared branches away from power lines.
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Blog seems slow today.
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Too quiet.
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853. DDR
Quoting IKE:


Think it was below average here for the year 2009.

It's been average to above average with rain here the last few months, until September started.

We are above average this month,having been above average for last 4 months including this one and more rain is coming.
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Well, Im back. I see we still have two Cat 4's, TS Earl, and still have a nasty major hurricane heading to St Pete for the end of this month unless it shifts tracks back west which some models have also shown as well.

Anything else?
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Quoting BioChemist:
I have seen some people say that the GFS long range points to a florida hit, while all I have seen is a Northern to central texas hit. Am I missing something?
YEA, A LOT OF FOLKS RESIDE IN fLORIDA, if you reside here, then all storms are comming here until they landfall elsewhere or are by Nova scotia
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Quoting IKE:


"""pattern change"""




Florida panhandle.

Where I'm at we've had around .72 inches of rain for the past month and a half.
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Man, I've been wearing out the ignore button...

Proviso: if you think you may have been poofed inadvertantly, WUMail me for verification...

Wonder what the record ignore list count is? Bet I'm on it!

So, now that everyone has had a chance to look at Levi's Tropical Tidbit for today, what does everyone think? Could Igor be an imposing threat?
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Quoting deepee:
a little off topic but here's some pictures of a water spot off the coast of padre island this morning.

have had numerous spouts and funnels the past couple of days.

Cool pics. Thank you for posting them.
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SQUAWK!!!!!!!
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Quoting deepee:
a little off topic but here's some pictures of a water spot off the coast of padre island this morning.

have had numerous spouts and funnels the past couple of days.



Beautiful pictures! I used to love to go to South Padre Island when I lived down there.
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Quoting FLdewey:

Okay well to clarify yes it's a good time if you lived on the island of Bermuda to calmly prepare.

My comment was it was a bit early for people on this blog to start flipping out... but then again people freak out about storms that don't even exist yet, so go nuts.

I just hope they save that guy on the rig in the Gulf. I wonder if he survived Karl?


That's a good question. If he's in the Gulf hopefully he's had enough time to get off the rig.
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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.