Archive for the ‘Hurricane Julia’ Tag





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.

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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 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.

Yours Truly,

T. Ansel Toney

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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.)”

Today’s Three Named Storms – Color Image – 9-14-2010

Cropping and yellow insertions by T. Ansel Toney. Left click twice for full enlargement.

Dear Tropical Weather Watchers,

I cropped the image above from a full disk image.  It was taken from the 4:45 pm (EDT) transmission of the GOES-13 weather satellite which is positioned at an altitude of 22,300 miles above the Equator at longitude 75 West.  At that altitude it orbits earth with the same period of revolution as the earth’s spin on its axis.  Therefore it stays over the same point (though it can be moved either east or west if desired).  By contrast, the International Space Station orbits at only 236 miles above the surface and the U.S. Shuttle crafts fly lower than that sometimes but have also gone higher – up to 365 miles or so above the surface to the Hubble Telescope.  It should be noted that neither the Space Station, the Shuttles, nor the Hubble are on equatorial orbits like the GOES Weather Satellites but instead they are at an inclination of 51.6 degrees to the equator.

In this image provided the sun had gone well past zenith and therefore you can see the bright eastern side of Igor’s eye wall.  It’s a very impressive storm.