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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2936. surfmom
2920. 954FtLCane 7:24 AM EDT on September 16, 2010

Ohhh Dear - another NASTY PICTURE - you guys are better then caffiene this morning...*nervous giggle*
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2935. scott39
Quoting CybrTeddy:
16/0615 UTC 19.3N 91.2W T3.5/3.5 KARL SAB

Look at the ADT on Karl..
CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.9 / 973.2mb/ 87.4kt
What the--
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16/0615 UTC 19.3N 91.2W T3.5/3.5 KARL SAB

Look at the ADT on Karl..
CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.9 / 973.2mb/ 87.4kt
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2933. scott39
Looks like SAL is coming back with a vengance off the African coast. Was julia the Caboose?
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2932. surfmom
Quoting StormJunkie:
Morning SM, good to see you.

Going to be another biggg swell over this way; going to come for a visit?


Way OVERHEAD for me : ), interesting to note even the Surf-forecast site said to be "careful" -- for all the years I've read his posts -- he's NEVER said that...thinking wave height, strength & RIP currents
oh yeah and Winds - I don't think these are going to be glassy beauties -- There are times when I have to be content looking at pictures and watching videos
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2931. srada
big bend?



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Quoting scott39:
Would those mostly go NW-N-NE in direction?


I would think so...Since they would most likely be getting entangled in the stronger troughs. Wilma-ish type deals. I'm no expert, but that just seems to be the most likely scenario for late season storms at this point. I'm not convinced that there will be a big enough gap between troughs, nor am I convinced that the Bermuda and Azores highs will ever bridge this season. Thus preventing any, except a very very southern storm from getting anywhere near the Conus from the Atl.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15472
Quoting StormJunkie:


Morning Cot. Some extremely impressive systems in the Atlantic so far this year.


Morning. Yeah, there has been. More to come as well, I wager. Looks like either Matthew or Nicole will cause trouble around early October if the GFS plays out.
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2927. surfmom
2919. StormJunkie 7:24 AM EDT on September 16, 2010

YUIKES - screw the coffee - that's a jumpstart - what the heck is that?????? I don't like that picture SJ - LOL
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Quoting islander101010:
ace is a bad measurement of the severity of the hurricane season im on jb side this time it does not matter unless it affects people
It's really a matter of measuring the season by what impact it has had.

ACE is a very generic meathod that places all seasons on an equal footing by roughly quantifying how much energy is added to the atmosphere from the surface waters.

Quantifying economic impact or the impact of human suffering is much more difficult, and often is influenced by politics, and sadly science is thrown out the window to some respect.

Consequently, I believe I understand in my humble opinion why ACE is used because the science of it cannot easily be skewed by politics or emotional opinions.

Good Morning! --- {Leans over to sip more and much needed coffee...}
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2925. scott39
Quoting StormJunkie:


The ridge over the SE US and East coast eroding is inevitable, it always happens with the more powerful troughs that are associated with the pattern change known as fall. This does not mean that a system will be able to cross the Atlantic and impact the Conus though. Those systems will be even more likely to curve imo. I would think it would take a system moving north from the W Carib or GOM to impact the Conus.
Would those mostly go NW-N-NE in direction?
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2924. IKE
Quoting scott39:
Goodmorning, So the ridge eroding is inevitable?


Eventually it has to.


Quoting StormJunkie:


Morning Ike. I know there is a long way still to go in the season, but imvho...It's going to take this type of scenario for something to impact the Conus. While 384hrs out is pretty worthless, the GFS has been very consistent in developing this system, which gives the idea at leas a little credibility.



And oh, btw...The GFS has just cleared you from being impacted by this system since it shows it pretty close to you at 384hrs ;) That is pretty close to you right?


That's ESE of me by 100-150 miles.


Two main impact storms that have directly affected me in the last 35 years. Note the dates....





and....


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Morning SM, good to see you.

Going to be another biggg swell over this way; going to come for a visit?
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15472
2922. surfmom

Grenada : )
- I worry and pray for any part of land or island in the path of a 'cane - one planet, one people.
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Quoting scott39:
Goodmorning, So the ridge eroding is inevitable?


The ridge over the SE US and East coast eroding is inevitable, it always happens with the more powerful troughs that are associated with the pattern change known as fall. This does not mean that a system will be able to cross the Atlantic and impact the Conus though. Those systems will be even more likely to curve imo. I would think it would take a system moving north from the W Carib or GOM to impact the Conus.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15472
Although its way out 3 out of the last 4 gfs runs (00, 06, 12z)bring something close to or over Florida at 360. I understand the whole cyclogenesis vs accuracy in run deal here and again that it's a long time out but it is interesting that at 360 (being Oct 1st) this storm almost hits or hits the Yucatan and then curves back into Florida.
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Quoting IKE:
I don't see anything directly affecting the lower 48 for the next 7 days...maybe the next 10. Too much high pressure. Maybe beyond that time period, troughs will erode the ridge and allow something to move toward the gulf coast, but it's too far out in time to know if that happens.

I'd say the lower 48 is safe from a direct hit through Sept. 25th.


Morning Ike. I know there is a long way still to go in the season, but imvho...It's going to take this type of scenario for something to impact the Conus. While 384hrs out is pretty worthless, the GFS has been very consistent in developing this system, which gives the idea at least a little credibility.



And oh, btw...The GFS has just cleared you from being impacted by this system since it shows it pretty close to you at 384hrs ;) That is pretty close to you right?
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15472
2918. WxLogic
Good Morning...
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2917. scott39
Quoting IKE:
I don't see anything directly affecting the lower 48 for the next 7 days...maybe the next 10. Too much high pressure. Maybe beyond that time period, troughs will erode the ridge and allow something to move toward the gulf coast, but it's too far out in time to know if that happens.

I'd say the lower 48 is safe from a direct hit through Sept. 25th.
Goodmorning, So the ridge eroding is inevitable?
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Link
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
I think Igor might pull an Earl on us. I think he'll finish his EWRC today and then stay low for a little while, right before Bermuda he might become very strong and organized again. Earl did it right before the US.
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Quoting Cotillion:
Karl is only a TS, but looking a lot better than Julia.

I'd be surprised if this wasn't a hurricane by the end of the day, let alone by 36 hours.


Morning Cot. Some extremely impressive systems in the Atlantic so far this year.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15472
2912. surfmom
I'm a bit pokey this morning
the coffee maker crashed
not a good start
the AC, the WashMachine --Okay, but no wake-up juice???
arrrrvy
ESPECIALLY - when there sooo much going on
IGOR - 30FT WAVES!!!!! - still looking at (((Bermuda)))
KARL - didn't crash or even seem to blink much over land
& JULIA - still survives
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2911. IKE
I don't see anything directly affecting the lower 48 for the next 7 days...maybe the next 10. Too much high pressure. Maybe beyond that time period, troughs will erode the ridge and allow something to move toward the gulf coast, but it's too far out in time to know if that happens.

I'd say the lower 48 is safe from a direct hit through Sept. 25th.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting apocalyps:
lets us all hope Igor does not cross Florida.
Experts think this is still possible.
KEEP SAFE


Which experts? Anyway, although these sort of systems are very unpredictable I would not be too concerned with this one crossing over Florida. Just keep an eye on it. It's the smart thing to do no matter what. Now Bermuda on the other hand, I would have done whatever it is I need or can do in such as small island to get ready for impact. They should have been worrying for quite some time already.
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2909. aimetti
back for another day , i see apocalyps has already joined us.

good morning.
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Can Plainly see the H/P in the N GOMEX
seeing theirs a storm in the S

Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Some morning rain in Terrebonne LA

Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
lets us all hope Igor does not cross Florida.
Experts think this is still possible.
KEEP SAFE
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2898.

Sorry, quote function not working.

More for future reference, I think. It has its shortcomings, but useful until someone comes up with something better.
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Karl is nearly to hurricanestatus already
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Karl is only a TS, but looking a lot better than Julia.

I'd be surprised if this wasn't a hurricane by the end of the day, let alone by 36 hours.
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Can someone post a sat ipc of Karl beacuse the NHC shows Karl one day ago. Whats up with that!
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Quoting islander101010:
before the 60s ace was unmeasureable so how can you use it for historical references?


Of course it's measurable. All you need is wind estimates every 6 hours and apply the formula.

Whether it's accurate is another question, but this ground is getting very old already.

Quoting HurricaneKing:


That satellite image is from yesterday. The floaters are glitching again.


Yep, just saw that.

Julia went from a healthy hurricane to her best Barry impression in a matter of seconds. Skills.
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Quoting Cotillion:


Julia's trend isn't hard to fathom...

However...



Julia's eye has reappeared.


That satellite image is from yesterday. The floaters are glitching again.
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before the 60s ace was unmeasureable so how can you use it for historical references? igor has stalled
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Igor moves slowly,very slowly to the west.
This could be a stall or a slowdown before the turn to the north.Lets hope its the turn otherwise Florida need to watch out.
Fingers crossed
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Julia's trend isn't hard to fathom...



(hoping it's the right image this time...)
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Quoting yonzabam:


ACE matters very much as a way of measuring the impact of global warming on hurricane activity.


That isn't true.
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Karl is strenghtening much more as predicted.
Could be a cat2-3 when he hits land.
This strenghtening could also bring him a little bit more to the north so Southtexas will get rain out of karl.
Keep safe
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2893. mbjjm
Check out the updated Tropical Weather Discussion on Crown Tropical weather

It is very informative.

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Quoting islander101010:
it does not matter what the ace is except for the record keepers what really matters is landfalls 1992 is way ahead


ACE matters very much as a way of measuring the impact of global warming on hurricane activity.
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2891. NCSaint
Looks like we'll have a pretty good source of near real-time data through the day as Igor approaches 41044

SO FAR...NOAA BUOY 41044 HAS REPORTED A PEAK 1-MINUTE WIND OF 45
KT...GUSTING TO 56 KT...ALONG WITH A MINIMUM PRESSURE OF 995
MB...AND A SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT OF 29 FT. HOWEVER...THE WORST
IS YET TO COME FOR THAT STATION...AS IGOR WILL MOVE VERY CLOSE TO
THE BUOY TONIGHT.
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According to Wikipedia, 2010's ACE is pretty much above 100.
1 27.8 Earl 7 1.95 Colin
2 26.7 Igor 8 1.32 Karl
3 21.8 Danielle 9 1.27 Hermine
4 8.80 Julia 10 0.368 Bonnie
5 6.78 Alex 0.368 Gaston
6 2.94 Fiona
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2889. CalTex
2886. victoria780 10:34 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

Victoria here as well - The clouds moving with Karl fill a lot of the gulf, but wasn't sure if our rain was due to him or not.
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When it comes to ACE - here's a question:

Thoughts on when (no point even saying if at this point) 2010 will surpass 2008 in ACE?

It's just under 37 from being 25th on the list.
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2887. Grenada
Quoting CalTex:
2877. Grenada 10:23 AM GMT on September 16, 2010

I've not forgotten those islands. I even went so far as to check on today's conditions for Martinique. Weather.com said winds to 13mph and 87% chance for rain. I wonder if they are planning on this system being father north than it is. Igor is very, very stubborn...


They should be well prepared because they should know what these storms can do and how unpredictable they can be. Memories of Ivan are flowing back right about now for me.
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Quoting robert88:
TX won't have to keep an eye on Karl. He will be well S of there. HP is strong over TX. The track could end up being slightly more S than expected. S TX will be lucky to get a drop of rain.
Its been raining off and on for 2-days here in S.Texas Karls cloud canopy extends all the way to Louisiana.
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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.