There are few sights in the natural world more impressive than a hurricane near maximum intensity. Hurricane Igor certainly fits that description this morning, as it flirts with Category 5 strength in the Central Atlantic. Igor's rapid intensification burst brought the mighty hurricane's winds to 150 mph, just shy of the 156 mph threshold for Category 5 status. Igor is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic in three years. The last hurricane stronger that Igor was Category 5 Hurricane Felix of 2007....
... Climatology shows that about 15% of all tropical cyclones that have existed at Igor's current position have gone on to hit the U.S. East Coast; these odds are about 10% for Bermuda and 10% for Canada. The forecast steering pattern for the period 5 - 10 days from now from the ECMWF and GFS models shows a continuation of the pattern we've seen all hurricane season, with regular strong troughs of low pressure moving off the U.S. East Coast. This pattern favors Igor eventually recurving out to sea without hitting the U.S. or Canada. While the trough expected to recurve Igor out to sea is not as sharp as the troughs that recurved Danielle, Earl, and Fiona, it should still be strong enough to keep Igor from hitting the U.S. However, Newfoundland, Canada could see a close pass. An examination of the tracks of the ten major September hurricanes that have passed closest to Igor's current location (Figure 2) reveals that one of these hurricanes went on to hit the Bahamas and Florida as a Category 2 storm, and another hit Newfoundland as a Category 1 storm. The other eight missed land. One wild card may be the intensification of Julia behind Igor. If Julia develops into a hurricane and moves close to Igor, as some of the models are suggesting, the two hurricanes could interact, affecting the track of Igor unpredictable ways. However, it currently appears the Julia will be much weaker than Igor, and will probably have little impact on her big brother's track.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Hurricane Watch: Igor Flirting with Catagory 5, Has 25% Chance of U.S. or Canadian Landfall