Archive for the ‘Beauty of Nature’ Category
I am pleased to announce that the Senior Learning Institute (SLI) of the College of Central Florida in Ocala is providing me another opportunity to present a geosciences topic that is near and dear to me.
IMPORTANT SPECIAL UPDATE (5-10-2015): The Senior Learning Institute no longer exists. It has become the non-profit Senior Learners, Inc. and classes are still taught at the College of Central Florida in Ocala. Here is a link:
IDENTIFYING AND UNDERSTANDING CLOUDS will be presented on Feb. 5, 7, 12, 14 (2013) – from 10 until noon (for a total of 8 hours). Click on the following link for my outline which will be distributed at the beginning of the first class meeting.
I have presented a dozen seminars at the SLI since 2006 and thoroughly enjoyed them. Since I taught a 12 hour course on clouds in April, 2007 I have received requests from a number of people who missed it and also from others who wished to do it again as a refresher.
SLI is a membership group composed of some terrific people who seem to consider “learning” to be an integral aspect of their life styles. When I am with them, though my official roll is that of a presenter, I learn so very much. I learn from them and I learn in the processes of preparing and presenting. There are some significant differences between these courses and the courses I taught for 41 years at colleges and universities: 1) the SLI seminars are non-credit courses, 2) they are short in duration compared to most college courses, 3) there are no academic prerequisites to the courses, 4) there are no exams to fret over, 5) there are no grades, 6) all who enroll are there voluntarily and, from what I can tell, gladly and 7) many have a great deal of experience acquired through time and by their sharing are able to enhance the quality of the course.
Almost all photos in this web-log,
including the five below,
will enlarge to the fullest
with two independent mouse clicks.
I have never been fond of snakes. I know why but that’s a long story for some other time. I do believe that if you happen to sit on a rattlesnake and incur a bite – that’s when you find out who your real friends are!
I do appreciate the role that snakes play in the whole scheme of things but still have difficulties being at peace with the notion that the eastern diamondback rattlesnake might be declared an endangered species after the conclusion of a year-long study that recently began. I know a bit about the food chain and environmental niches – but still, that’s a critter I would just as soon not engage in guarded cohabitation.
But I have been very concerned about the number of snakes that are killed needlessly simply because of the fear that so many of us possess. That concern was accentuated about 4 years ago when a man who lives in my neighborhood called me to come over to his place to identify a snake he had run over with his lawnmower. The dead snake was a yellow rat snake, one of the most beneficial snakes we have here in the Southeast. But they are very unpopular with people who fear snakes because they grow to be very long (the record is 90”) and they are excellent climbers often seen high in trees. To encounter one in a tree at eye level can generate goose-bumps upon goose-bumps and prompt records for the backwards long jump.
In spite of the fact that the mower-victim snake was dead I was encouraged to see it because it was the first I’d seen in the 3 years I’d lived in my West-Central Florida home. So, I’ve had my eye out for them ever since and have encouraged close neighbors to leave them alone and appreciate them. They are terrific for managing rodent populations; they are natural exterminators. If so many of the snakes were not killed by frightened or misguided humans the pocket gophers that leave holes all over this area would be culled out to a manageable number.
Well – I’ve been discouraged since then because though I’ve seen little ring-necks, and a few southern racers I haven’t seen a single rat snake, not even the red rat (or corn snake) – in spite of my efforts to create a favorable habitat for them.
But yesterday was a day of joy because I learned that they are still around here in my neighborhood – that they have not been completely killed off. My wife noticed that our cats were very focused as they looked through the glass of our porch window. A 5′ 6” yellow rat snake had their attention. I went outside and enjoyed the snake from a distance snapping a few pictures as the beauty took a tour around the perimeter of the house. They are egg layers and next week when I do my regularly scheduled gutter cleaning I won’t be surprised if I have to bypass some eggs. By the way, the hatchlings are generally mistaken for different species of snakes, as they look different from adults. They have a dark appearance and are strongly marked with irregularly shaped spots or blotches, against a gray background. The one pictured here is an adult with its characteristic long-axis stripes.
Please don’t kill them. They are not mean to humans.
The only time I’ve ever heard of one being aggressive to humans was when cornered or prodded. If you encounter one don’t expect it to scurry away in fear. They are generally docile and don’t scamper if you remain calm. This one let me talk to it for over half an hour and when I used a garden hose to place water up in the gutter it enjoyed the cascade from the downspout as the last photo illustrates.
The photo below is actually from a scan of the “full disk” of earth from the GOES-13 satellite. I have cropped the original in order to concentrate upon Tropical Storm Irene. Tropical Storm Jose also shows up in the image; it is very small. To find it look for a small blob of clouds, bright white (about half the width of the state of Florida and located off the Carolinas and next to Bermuda). More information follows after the image.
TWO INDEPENDENT LEFT CLICKS WILL ENLARGE TO THE FULLEST.
TIME OF PHOTO – 2:45 pm Eastern Daylight Time
DATE – Sunday, August 28, 2011
ALTITUDE OF SATELLITE – about 22,300 miles
TIME NEEDED TO SCAN FULL DISK OF EARTH – about 26 minute
LINK TO MORE INFORMATION ON SATELLITE IMAGE – http://noaasis.noaa.gov/NOAASIS/ml/imager.html
I was out pulling weeds around 8 pm EDT at my home in Citrus County, Florida when I saw cirrus clouds moving along at a fairly good clip. After taking a few quick photographs, I went to my computer to confirm what I suspected I was seeing. I consulted both an up-to-date satellite visible loop and an infrared loop. Sure enough, the cirrus I was observing marked the outermost segment of an outflow band from hurricane Irene.
Here is a photo as I faced the WSW. (The gray clouds are little fracto-cumulus at a much lower altitude than the very high cirrus).
The graphic below shows the general direction of movement of both the inflow and the outflow of a hurricane in the northern hemisphere. This particular one is hurricane Ike of 2008.
-for both of these images, two independent left clicks will enlarge to the fullest-
– artist extraordinaire –
If you’ve made a cursory examination of this web-log you know that there is something about the vicinity of North Carolina’s Black Mountains (Mt. Mitchell . . . . . . . Celo Knob) and the Blue Ridge Parkway scenery that is very special to me. Knowing that I have a special love of this part of our country it’s surely not surprising that I’d look for artists who capture its beauty. Through the years I’ve seen many admirable works but the creations I enjoy the most come from Carl Peverall, an artist who lives in the area. He paints primarily in pastels on location. Here is a link to his web-site in which you will see that he also does other forms of art superbly:
I have wondered how many people driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Black Mountains or along that beautiful stretch of highway 80 between the Parkway and Micaville that parallels the eastern flank of the range have proclaimed “Oh how I’d love to have a painting of that!” If, like me, you have tried to “capture” artistic images with your camera you might have an even greater appreciation than most for the work of Carl Peverall.
His paintings have been difficult for me to adequately describe. In preparing this entry I have struggled with words – attempting to find just the right combination to explain how very pleasing I find his representations of nature. It’s tempting to use the word, “capture” – a term frequently used to describe an artist’s skill. Though I’ve used it, I honestly find it to be an inadequate word because I associated it with “gaining control” of something followed by carting it off and securing it in such a way that it no longer bothers us. This is not what Carl Peverall does.
Instead, he skillfully frames a breathtaking view available to his eyes during a brief period of time and projects it in such a way that it encompasses the viewer. Those who have tried framing such scenery within the viewer of a camera will surely appreciate that his choices go far beyond blind luck. The man knows how to decide upon a subject and then it seems that he immerses himself within it.
I have the decided advantage of having seen most of his landscape subjects and having walked within and upon the mountains he paints. He has the decided advantage of living in the area year round. But even for those who have never gazed upon that part of our beautiful countryside, his paintings are beautiful and I suspect that they generate the desire to see it first hand. It is uplifting to look at his paintings knowing that there really is a place like that! I have a feeling that he could paint during a most dismal day and yet convey a sense of joy or that “happy to be alive” feeling that can course through our bodies like static electricity.
Don’t get me wrong – I love where I live in West-Central Florida. But we have adorned the part of our house where most of the living occurs with Peverall prints. When I see them (hundreds of times per day) I long to get up there where our little cabin is located but I also count my blessings that I “know” that area and have the mobility to get up there often and to share its beauty with you. This is mainly why I’m making this entry – to share with you. All the while I’m acutely aware of the wonderful ability that Carl Perverall possesses – a gift of talent and mature interpretation which he is willing to share with us. Most thinking men I know wish to enhance the lives of others (one of the reasons I became a teacher). Carl Peverall does just that – his creativity lifts my spirit. To be sure, his paintings (which extend a part of his heart and soul far beyond his physical location) have the potential to enhance the quality of the lives of many. I thank him from the bottom of my heart.
ABOVE: A recent photo of my son, Colin Toney, taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of me (taking a picture of him taking a picture of me) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
TO GO TO TONIE TONEY’S ASSORTED PICS PAGE EITHER GO DIRECTLY TO THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE OR CLICK ON THIS LINK:
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE CONTENTS FOLLOWS.
52. A view by Colin Toney of a part of the crest of the Black Mountain range – taken from near the summit parking lot of Mt. Mitchell. The building in the foreground is a picnic shelter.
51. Colin Toney’s image of fog surrounding deciduous trees not far from our cabin.
TO GO TO COLIN TONEY’S PICS:
50. By my son, Colin Toney – a splendid view looking down upon the high Piedmont from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
49. THE BLACKS LOOKING BLACK. Silhouette of the southern third of the Black Mt. Range in North Carolina showing Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Craig, Big Tom, and Balsam Cone.
48. FOR ALL BUTTS, BIG OR SMALL. A sign instructing what you can do with your butt when you are in the small town of Farmland, Indiana.
47. N.W. CORNER OF MAIN AND HENRY STREETS – FARMLAND, INDIANA – 2010. A 112-year-old brick building in Farmland, Indiana (population less than 1,300 – no stoplights).
46. ESSENTIALS FOR A MAN WHEN USING A CHAIN SAW. The safety devices shown in this photo could prevent a disaster.
45. ZOIE – OCTOBER 27, 2010. White can studying her reflection in a television screen.
44. OCTOBER 25, 2010 NEAR THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. Surrounded by my neighbors in our little mountain community called Mountain Cove.
43. OCTOBER IN RANDOLPH COUNTY, INDIANA. A photo by my son, Colin Toney, of a serene scene in east-central Indiana farming country on ground moraine left behind by a retreating continental glacier.
42. PARKWAY VIEW IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. Beautiful autumn colors in the mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
41. VIEW LOOKING WESTWARD FROM STUMPKNOCKERS. The cypress and oak lined Withlacoochee River as it flows past a popular restaurant which offers, among other things, alligator (both in the river and on your plate).
40. MOSS ON STONES. A large stone covered with moss. Location – off the Appalachian Trail on Roan Mountain.
39. OLD BARN – BLACK AND WHITE. Appalachia is a paradise for many reasons. For example, one who likes to photograph in black and white can find countless subjects.
38. HEAVEN ON EARTH. A “Sound of Music” view looking southward from Roan Mountain, Tennessee.
37. “MOTIONLESS STONES TEND TO GATHER MOSS!” I pull weeds from the gravel drive where we park next to our cabin but the moss is so pretty I don’t bother it.
36. THE TONEY LANE. The farm of Virgil Oren & Marge Toney has been a long-time favorite place for me. Oren, at 85, still mows this lane, less than half of which you can see in this photo.
35. ROSE-OF-SHARON BLOOMING IN MY BACK WOODS IN FLORIDA. A beautiful flowering plant that seems to require little care beyond semi-annual pruning.
34. MY PERFECT HIKING COMPANION. Since our first hike together (many years ago in May) to ice-covered Lake Solitude in the Tetons, I knew that this lady would stick with me in the back country and the back roads of life.
33. THE VALLEY OF THE WATAUGA RIVER AT VALLE CRUCIS, NORTH CAROLINA. A nice example of a flood plain in the mountains where the favored alluvial soil is at a premium.
32. THIN CURTAIN OF RAYS IN FRONT OF THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. This is one of my favorite photos taken by my son, Colin Toney. If the air were perfectly clean, these “sun-rays” would not appear. Thank goodness the air is not perfectly clean. To learn why – go to the second item at this link to meteorology misconceptions: http://ztechzone.net/learningzone/science/science55/meteorology1.html
31. OLD CHEVY BESIDE STILL FORK CREEK RD. Each year I expect this old car to disappear – hopefully to be restored. But, like so many of the people I know in the mountains, it lingers through all kinds of weather – just a bit more worn the next time I see them – yet – no more than me.
30. “LET’S GO ON ANOTHER TRIP!” Ziggie and Zoie, our two young girl cats, love to travel. They barely make a peep while inside their crate secured to the seat behind the driver in our van.
29 & 28. LILIES OF TOE VALLEY. These two photos show lilies that grow next to our cabin – requiring no care whatsoever. They have always been prolific. The photo also shows a use for hand soap of which most people are unaware.
27. CRABTREE FALLS, N.C. Blue Ridge Parkway mile 339.5 is near the trailhead to this beautiful waterfall. It’s worth the 2.5 mile hike.
26. BLUE MOUNTAINS UNDER A BLUE SKY. I’ve never had difficulty over the naming of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
25. OLD MAN GAZING HEAVENWARD. Grandfather Mountain’s crest when viewed from the north side displays the origin of its name.
24. NATURAL BRIDGES. Ice storms and winds bring down many trees in our southern forests. These fallen trees provide a way to cross without getting wet.
23. FLORIDA, THE SUNSHINE STATE! A curious mixture of sunshine and ice at the northeast corner of our house.
22. ALTOCUMULUS LENTICULARIS NEAR MT. MITCHELL, N.C. Oh how I wish I could have seen this also from the aircraft above.
21. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE FROM TABLE ROCK’S SUMMIT. We hiked the trail to the top of Table Rock (a Blue Ridge Parkway landmark) for this view.
20. TABLE ROCK, N.C. An easy vantage point to reach at the Blue Ridge Parkway Chestoa Overlook near mile 320 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Table Rock overlooks the famous Linville Gorge.
19. RAINBOW SPRINGS FOREST. Just spitting distance from our Florida home, Rainbow Springs at the head of the Rainbow River near Dunnellon, Florida is a popular attraction.
18. LILACS IN THE SPRING AT OUR MOUNTAIN CABIN. These lilacs only last about a month at our place a bit above 3000′.
17. WISTERIA IN THE SPRING – HOME IN FLORIDA. I’m still amazed at how these spring back in the spring after dealing with our freezing episodes.
16. SANTA DOWN. An empty wine bottle might point to Santa’s problem on this particular morning.
15. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE IN THE DISTANCE. From 17 miles away – the Black Mountains still cause me to marvel at their formidable beauty. Among the oldest mountains in North America, they used to be higher than today’s Alps.
14. SWAN SONG – BLACK AND WHITE. Just as some peoples brains run a mile a minute as they are motionless, this, “calm,” stately, serene animal’s little legs run below the water faster than you can whistle “Dixie.”
13. ALTAPASS VIEW. From behind the famous apple orchard’s main building – autumn colors adorn the slopes.
12. PRIVATE SITTING ROOM – BLACK & WHITE. Oh how much sitting and thinking has occurred here through the years?
11. TWO LITTLE DICKENS’ – THE TAILS OF TWO KITTIES. These feline “girls” are back to back and sound asleep.
10. LAKE HENDERSON – On the east side of Inverness, Florida – this is one of my favorite lakes for sailing my little Hutchins sloop.
9. FORK IN THE ROAD – BLACK AND WHITE. One can’t walk this way without seeing some deer. It’s almost as though they know we are not interested in shooting them except with the camera.
8. PARADISE LOST. Close to my Florida home, no matter how many times I’ve seen this, it brings up a smile.
7. REFLECTIONS ON PEPPER CREEK – BLACK & WHITE. South of Crystal River, Florida, this creek flows within Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
6. ZOIE’S FIRST FLORIDA CHRISTMAS – my wife’s photo of a cat who has claimed taken possession of our Christmas tree and the gifts beneath.
5. DESCENT TO THE TOE. The wild and magical incline of the eastern flank of the Blacks running down to the Toe River valley.
4. MONTICELLO (CELLO) 1997-2009. My wife’s favorite U.S. President is Thomas Jefferson. This should explain the name. Cello was a wonderful dog.
3. MONTI – 2005-2009. My baby boy had an inoperable heart problem. He didn’t last long. Oh how he was loved!
2. NEWLY ADOPTED FELINE GIRLS – ZIGGIE & ZOIE. These girls have grown to become sweet young ladies – very much different, one from the other.
1. NEW MEXICO’S SUGARLOAF. This mountain is within the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico. This is a range I want to explore further.
HERE IS A LINK TO THE LISTED PHOTOS:
TWO INDEPENDENT LEFT CLICKS WILL FULLY ENLARGE EACH IMAGE
One of the most spectacular scenic drives in the Southern Appalachian mountains is North Carolina state highway 80 as it runs generally north-south linking U.S. 19 (at Micaville) to the Blue Ridge Parkway (near mile marker 344) at Buck Creek Gap. For most of the distance of that segment it parallels the meandering South Toe River. But, to my mind, the most breathtaking features of the drive are the beautiful peaks of the Black Mountain range which is to the west of 80. I’ve walked the length of the crest of that relatively short range and agree with the trail rating, strenuous. When including the Bowlens Creek segment it is a 12 mile long “kick your behind” hike that many feel is the most difficult in the eastern U.S. If that sounds like an exaggeration, I invite you to Google search the Black Mountain Crest Trail. Mind you, this is coming from a man who has hiked the Grand Canyon down to the river and up the other side, as well as myriad other difficult trails including Mt. Whitney.
I’ve traveled highway 80 often during all four seasons partly because I’m blessed with the good fortune of having a small cabin (20 miles from the nearest stoplight – in Burnsville) on a heavily wooded slope facing (and east of) Mt. Mitchell on the opposite side of the South Toe Valley. The South Toe parallels the eastern slope of the Blacks. Though people gravitate to the area in the Autumn because of the changing colors, I find the area to be uniquely beautiful every season of the year.
For those who are driving to see views of the mountains it can be difficult at times for a variety of reasons. There are limited places to safely pull off where you get an unrestricted view of the range and for those driving slowly who are unfamiliar with the territory or not “practiced” on mountain roads, the 55 mile per hour speed limit utilized by locals seems maddeningly unsafe. Some residents of the area are kind and patient; others tend to try to get right on up inside your tailpipe – fantasizing, no doubt, that they are in a NASCAR Cup Race. To be honest – I understand that. I recommend pulling over at the first safe opportunity when being drafted/pushed in such a manner.
The Quiet Reflections Retreat near Celo is a great place I would like to recommend for a wonderful view which zeros in on Celo Knob on the north end of the range but also provides (weather permitting) a view of the famous Mt. Mitchell near the south end of the range. If you are either a religious or a spiritual person (or both) you will enjoy it even more, I think. My wife and I visited it for the first time just a few days ago. I was spellbound by it all and remind you that my pictures just don’t do it justice.
Here is a link to a website which provides a map. If you want inspiration, peace, and serenity, and/or you want to have a talk with The Great Guy In the Sky and you are not in a hurry – this is a great place to go as far as I’m concerned. I am deliberately avoiding showing you a full view of the inside of the structure because I hope you can have the experience of seeing it for the first time when you yourself open the doors to enter. By the way – the website’s description of the steep climb on gravel is accurate but it’s a piece of cake if you drive sanely. Our front wheel drive Honda Odyssey did fine. I would not go up on thin tires if it were me because in a few spots the gravel is coarse and I would avoid it in the snow unless I had a four-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Also, here is a link for more information about the Black Mountains and Mt. Mitchell:
Color changes have progressed more rapidly around Mt. Mitchell this year than any previous one I can recall. The best viewing weekend was probably the 9th and 10th of this month. Before this weekend arrived (the 16th and 17th) strong winds had removed many of the colorful leaves early.
This is not to say that it’s not still beautiful. It most certainly is. All I’m saying is that the time of greatest brilliance, starkness, and contrast has ended. If you’re planning a trip and you are reading this at the time of posting, remember, I’m addressing one particular segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway and for that matter, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are some places that are just now about to enter the peak color of the season.
From my point of view the Blue Ridge mountains are beautiful any time of the year. So I promote the views no matter what month it is. When the deciduous leaves are off in the Winter one who is interested in the topography and geology can see much more. It’s also a paradise for one who likes to take black and white photographs. I’ve often heard complaints that it’s “all so gray and depressing” in the Winter but that’s not the way I see it. There are so many conifers which, of course, stay green throughout the year. It’s those very conifers and other evergreens (like the laurel and rhododendron) which, in my opinion, provide the contrasts that make the Autumn colors so magnificent. I suppose it’s all in the eye of the beholder but as far as I’m concerned it’s hard to surpass the beauty of these mountains when they are enhanced by snow. Each season is unique and the changes here are so very obvious to anyone who loves to observe his/her natural environment.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE BLACK MOUNTAINS AND MT. MITCHELL, GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINK:
LEFT CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE
AND THEN WAIT PATIENTLY FOR AN ANIMATION.
I RECOMMEND YOU READ THE INTRO. BELOW FIRST.
I’m posting this on the afternoon of Wednesday, 9-15-2010. What you will be looking at as you view the animation above is, to my mind, fantastic. I would have loved to have had such a tool to use in the college classroom when I was a full-time meteorology professor. Even though this is jerky, it gives a wonderful view of things which I and my students could only imagine back before my retirement from the profession. The stream will quickly get to mid-day (of Monday, Sept. 13) and the sun will quickly reach the western horizon marking sunset. If you focus upon the eye in the afternoon you will see the shadow created by the wall cloud’s western margin as it creeps eastward. Also watch the boiling cumuliform tops in various places. I was fascinated by the way the clouds moved within the eye of the storm as it rotated. ENJOY!
SPECIAL NOTE: For those of you who understand hurricane circulation in more detail than most, notice the lower level clouds converging cyclonically (counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere) and look hard enough at the more diffuse high clouds and you will detect the anticyclonic divergence (clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere). The latter is easiest to see on the west side of the storm where you can envision the feathered cirrus moving toward the north or northwest. If they seem to you to be standing still that is because the ice crystals are sublimating at the leading edges of the clusters (turning from solid to gas) whereas deposition (gas to solid) is occurring at the trailing edges.
Watch the digital clock at the bottom margin of the image and you will note that after the initial spurt of one frame per 15 minutes, it settles down to a nicer one frame per minute.
* * * * * * *
This hurricane is a very strong one and potentially dangerous – particularly for the 65,000 or so people in Bermuda. Let’s hope that they escape unharmed. I’m hoping that Igor takes a surprisingly sharper right turn than anticipated in order to spare those fine people.
However, no matter the outcome, it’s difficult not to be in awe of this beautiful beast. It’s also important, I think, to recognize that there are some good things about this storm especially when coupled with the impending effects of Julia which is positioned further to the east. A certain amount of energy MUST be transformed over the Atlantic in order that it not be all released at once. An analogy: It’s better to have one tiny earthquake per year along an active fault than wait for 100 years before all of that stored energy is released as one gigantic earthquake.
The fact that Igor and Julia are both releasing huge amounts of latent heat into the atmosphere is good – particularly when that is happening over relatively uninhabited places. Generally such long fetches over such long periods of time will move warm, tropical water such that it is replaced from below by cooler upwelling water. That is good because the next system to move by is less likely to have as much oceanic heat to stoke it.
At the time I’m writing this (about 5 pm EDT, 9-15-2010) Igor is a category 4 hurricane and Julia is a category 3. However, not many hours ago Julia was also a 4 and she might intensify to that category again. According to my sources, this is only the second time in history that we have had two category 4 storms in the Atlantic at the same time.
Dr. Jeff Masters of WeatherUnderground.com wrote of that fact in his weblog today. Rather than mimic what he has said, I’m placing his well-written statement below in blue.
T. Ansel Toney
e-mail = ProfToney@gmail.com
“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.)”