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Tropical Storm Igor Forms in East Atlantic

September 8th, 2010
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The Cape Verde season just won’t quit after starting late in August.  As a matter of fact, we’ve seen 6 named storms form since August 21st, two of them major hurricanes (Danielle/Earl), and 5 of them forming in the far eastern Atlantic.  Now we have Tropical Storm Igor out there about 2500 miles east of the Caribbean Sea.  Igor’s winds are only 40 mph right now, but I think that Igor is quite likely going to become a large and powerful hurricane in 4-6 days.  The big question is - where will Igor go?

Climatology is often a very good tool for estimating what might or might not happen.  Let’s take a look at all September storms that passed within about 75 miles of Igor’s current position during the month of September and see where the past storms went.  The records start way back in 1851, though not many storms were identified so far east during the 19th Century.  To do this, I like to use the Coastal Services Center’s Hurricane Viewer tool.  When I plugged in the coordinates for Igor (13.7N / -23.5W), selected all storms within 65nm of Igor and then only the month of September, I got the map below:

Pasts Storms Near Igor

What you see on the map above are the tracks of 13 named storms that formed or passed within 75 miles of Igor’s location from 1851-2009 during the month of September only.   Personally, I was shocked when I saw the results of my quick study.   I had expected about 95-100% of storms in the region to recurve east of the Caribbean and head safely out to sea.  But what climatology indicates is that 5 of the 13 storms struck the U.S., and these were big name storms.   Of those 5 that struck the U.S., 2 struck the northeast Caribbean as major hurricanes.  And to top it off, 4 of those 5 hurricanes became Category 5 hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Let’s break those five down:

Well that’s quite a list of Caribbean and U.S. impacts from previous hurricanes which have formed or passed near Igor’s current position!  But where will Igor track?  It’s too soon to tell for sure.  Model guidance suggests that Igor will track to the north of the eastern Caribbean in 7-8 days. Thereafter, the models diverge.  Some take Igor off to the north and out to sea, but the European model indicates that Igor’s northward motion could be blocked by high pressure to the north, sending it westward toward the U.S. East Coast.  I think that Igor will most likely take a path safely out to sea, but given the climatology of past storms I’m not 100% confident Igor won’t strike land.

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