The hottest days bring out the hottest tempers, the research finds
Karl is the eleventh named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. Despite a demanding month-long wave punctuated by multiple Category 4 storms, the season got off to a slow start. August passed without a single named thunderstorm, the first time since 1997 that it has happened.
Meteorologists refer to a value called ACE, or Accumulated Cyclone Energy, to measure how active a season is. ACE is an integrated metric that takes into account the intensity and duration of the storm.
A total of 83.7 ACE units have been produced so far, about 19.3% below average, defying the almost unanimous forecasts of an above average season. Half of the ACE resulted from just two storms: Fiona, who blew up Puerto Rico before crashing into the Canadian Maritimes, and Ian, who landed as high-end Category 4 and killed more than 100 people in the south- west of Florida.
As of 11:00 Eastern time, Karl was getting closer and closer to the coast. He is nestled in Campeche Bay and travels southeast at 6 mph. Maximum sustained winds were estimated to be 45 mph deep inside Carl’s core.
The storm was about 80 miles northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico. Its outer rain bands were beginning to soak the western portions of the Yucatán Peninsula and the gulf coast of adjacent southern Mexico.
On the infrared satellite, it is evident that Karl is essentially a large mass of thunderstorms. A few purple and black dots can be seen in the center, indicating extremely cold clouds. This represents the highest clouds and the highest peaks. Meteorologists refer to the parent’s bubble-like updraft as a “peak that crosses the line,” as the updrafts of thunderstorms are so strong that they hit the lower stratosphere before subsiding. It is a sign that the air is rapidly moving upwards.
On the outskirts of the storm, hair-like tendrils radiate from the storm clusters. This is an indicator of healthy runoff or high-altitude exhausted air coming out of the storm and facing it. The more air a storm evacuates from above, the more its air pressure can drop and the more warm, humid air it can ingest from below to feed.
The limiting factor with Karl is not that the sea surface temperatures are not warm enough; in fact, Campeche Bay is filled with oceanic heat to support the escalating storms. Instead, wind shear, or a disruptive change in wind speed and / or direction with altitude, is conspiring to bring down the storm.
As a result, Karl will not be greatly strengthened. Dry air also envelops Karl and works to limit its intensity. As such, it might gain a little more oomph, but should come ashore as a relatively modest tropical storm. The National Hurricane Center plans to land near or just east of Paraíso, a city of nearly 100,000 people, from Friday night through early Saturday.
Winds along the immediate coast near the center can blow over 45 mph, which will accompany some coastal splashing and rip currents. The greatest threat will be abundant rainfall. Until Sunday morning, Karl is expected to drop 2 to 5 inches spread with localized totals of 10 inches in Veracruz, Tabasco and northern Chiapas and Oaxaca.
“These rains could produce flash floods, along with mudslides, on higher ground,” wrote the National Hurricane Center.
In addition to Karl, the Hurricane Center is also closely monitoring a faint disturbance south of the Cape Verde islands, but it is unlikely to develop.