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Hurricane Karl (2004)

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Hurricane Karl
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Karl Sept 19 2004 1340Z.jpg
Hurricane Karl on September 19, 2004
Formed September 16, 2004
Dissipated September 28, 2004
(Extratropical after September 24, 2004)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
Lowest pressure 938 mbar (hPa); 27.7 inHg
Fatalities None
Damage None
Areas affected Faroe Islands, Norway
Part of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Karl was a powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane during the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the eleventh named storm, eighth hurricane and sixth major hurricane of the 2004 season. Karl formed on September 16, originating from a strong tropical wave that emerged off Africa. It rapidly intensified, becoming a major hurricane on two occasions. Karl peaked as a strong Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale on September 21 with 145 mph (230 km/h) winds. It weakened as it moved northward, becoming extratropical on September 24 in the north Atlantic and becoming absorbed by another system on September 28. The extratropical storm affected the Faroe Islands, but no damage was reported there, nor were there any fatalities.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

Karl originated in a strong tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on September 13. The wave gradually became better organized, and it was declared Tropical Depression Twelve about 670 miles (1,080 km) west-southwest of the Cape Verde islands on the morning of September 16, as it headed westward in the open tropical Atlantic following the periphery of the subtropical ridge. That afternoon, the depression continued to rapidly organize and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Karl.[1] Due to healthy outflow around an upper-level anticyclone over Karl and a favorable environment with the warmest sea surface temperatures of the year, rapid deepening began on the evening of September 17,[2] with the storm developing a small eye[3] and being upgraded to Hurricane Karl.[1] With water around 28°C (83°F) and low wind shear,[3] the cyclone continued to rapidly intensify on the morning of September 18. The intensity leveled off somewhat that afternoon as a strong Category 2 hurricane with winds of 110 mph (175 km/h).[1]

Late in the evening of September 18, Karl attained Category 3 status, becoming the sixth major hurricane of 2004. On September 19, Karl continued to strengthen, maintaining a well-defined eye,[4] and strengthening late that day into a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 135 mph (215 km/h) and a minimum pressure of 948 mbar.[1] Early on September 20, the storm weakened slightly as a result of an eyewall replacement cycle, weakening back to a strong Category 3 hurricane.[5] At this time Karl began to turn sharply northward into a weakness in the subtropical ridge.[1]

After intensification stopped on September 20 due to the eyewall cycle and slightly increased wind shear,[6] Karl quickly restrengthened that evening over very warm water, and early on September 21 reached its peak intensity as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph (230 km/h) winds and a minimum central pressure of 938 mbar.[1] That morning, as Karl was moving northward, another eyewall replacement cycle began to take place and vertical shear increased, again weakening the storm temporarily.[7] The trend continued into the evening, and the storm weakened to a Category 2 hurricane by early on September 22. The weakening trend slowed down and eventually leveled off that afternoon with Karl remaining a Category 2 hurricane as the storm turned towards the north-northeast.[8] Late that evening, Karl began to restrengthen once again as wind shear diminished.[9] The intensification continued into the morning of September 23, as Karl became a major hurricane a second time, reaching a final peak of 125 mph (205 km/h) winds.[1] Cooler waters and increased shear soon prevailed, however, and the storm quickly weakened,[10] dropping to a Category 1 hurricane by late that evening as the low-level circulation became detached from the mid-level circulation due to the strong southwesterly vertical wind shear.[11]

Karl on September 22

Early on September 24, Karl continued its north-northeast track over the open north-central Atlantic and continued to gradually weaken. It started to come in contact with the baroclinic zone and began to lose tropical characteristics, while still a Category 1 hurricane.[12] Karl became extratropical shortly afterward over the northern Atlantic at about 47°N, with its winds dropping below hurricane strength shortly thereafter.[1] The extratropical storm made landfall on the Faroe Islands with hurricane-force wind gusts. As an extratropical low, the cyclone moved northeastward and eastward across the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, eventually reaching Norway before it was absorbed into another extratropical low late on September 28.[1]


Karl made landfall on Norway as an extratropical storm with sustained winds near 70 mph (110 km/h)[1] and with wind gusts up to 89 mph (144 km/h). No damages or deaths were reported, and no ships came directly into contact with Karl; the strongest winds reported were from the ship Rotterdam, which reported 52 mph (83 km/h) sustained winds in the north Atlantic while Karl was a Category 1 storm in extratropical transition.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jack Beven (2004). "Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Karl" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ Jarvinen (2004-09-17). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 3". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  3. ^ a b Stewart (2004-09-18). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 7". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  4. ^ Blake/Lawrence (2004-09-19). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 13". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  5. ^ Franklin (2004-09-20). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 15". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  6. ^ Blake/Lawrence (2004-09-20). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 16". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  7. ^ Blake/Pasch (2004-09-22). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 23". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  8. ^ Franklin (2004-09-22). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 24". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  9. ^ Berg/Avila (2004-09-22). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 26". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  10. ^ Lawrence (2004-09-23). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 29". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  11. ^ Berg/Avila (2004-09-23). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 30". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  12. ^ Roberts/Bevin (2004-09-24). "Hurricane Karl Discussion Number 31". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 

External links[edit]