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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Fri, 09/17/2010 - 8:50am.
For the last week and a half we've been watching as our latest round of storms pop up and plow across the Atlantic. But as their fates come into clearer view, it's the newcomer Hurricane Karl that snuck up on many and may provide the biggest blow.
Karl intensified tremendously over the last 24 hours after emerging off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical storm into the Bay of Campeche. The waters here are even warmer than anywhere else in the Tropical Atlantic right now, and atmospheric conditions have been ripe for rapid strengthening. On Friday morning, Karl achieved major hurricane status and looks to be the strongest storm to make landfall since Hurricane Ike struck Cuba and then Texas in 2008.
This has the potential to be a real disaster for Mexico for a variety of reasons. Number one, the storm is catching a lot of people by surprise. It formed very quickly before making landfall as a weak storm over the Yucatan, and then instensified so quickly on the other side as we mentioned. Not only that, but the forecast track had been calling for the storm to make landfall farther north, closer to Tampico. Instead, the storm is coming ashore about 250 miles south near Veracruz.
Winds will be very intense upon landfall as will the heavy rains and storm surge, but the lasting legacy of this storm could be it's flooding potential. What we see with storms that make landfalls like these in Mexico is that they are forced to rapidly rise above the very tall Sierra Madre mountains. This enhances upward motion of the storm and causes precipitation rates to increase rapidly and also condenses out nearly all the water from the storm. Expect to see some major flooding in the mountains, with a high potential for some serious loss of life as well.
As Karl makes landfall today, we also are still watching Hurricane Igor. He appears to be weakened, but is still a very strong storm that has the potential to ravage the island of Bermuda along his track. Whether or not the storm delivers a direct blow to Bermuda is a tough call, partly because of the islands extremely small size. Either way, Igor will deliver nasty conditions to the island as it makes it's way north this weekend into early next week.
For us, expect high surf to begin at area beaches today lasting through the weekend. Of course, as is the case whenever a tropical system is passing offshore, we will have a very high risk of rip currents in the water as well. Since it is after Labor Day, lifegaurds may not be on duty at some area beaches. Please use extreme caution if you're enjoying the sun on the sand this weekend.
Hurricane Julia looks simply pitiful this morning. In fact, we need not even mention her. At this point, she's just bookkeeping for this 2010 Season and will have no impacts as she heads out to sea.
One quick note, we do already have 11 names storms this year - 6 of which have become hurricanes. Of the six hurricanes, five of them have become Major Hurricanes an impressive number for any season.
Have a great weekend!
By: Tim Buckley