|From September 17th – 20th, storm chaser Michael Laca intercepted Hurricane Igor on the island of Bermuda.On September 6th a large and complex area of disturbed weather associated with a tropical wave, moved off the west coast of Africa attended by two distinct areas of low pressure.The dominant low passed to the south of the Cape Verde islands while steadily increasing in organization, becoming a tropical depression on the morning of September 8th and reaching tropical storm strength later that day.For the next couple of days, Igor moved westward reaching hurricane strength late on September 11th. Rapid intensification ensued on September 12th and by late that afternoon, Hurricane Igor reached category four strength with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph (115 kts). An ERC (eyewall replacement cycle) began on September 13th which resulted in a slight weakening, followed by a new period of intensification, culminating in Hurricane Igor’s peak intensity, with the storm producing maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (135 kts) and a minimum central pressure of 925 mb (27.32 mb) late on September 14th. During this time, Hurricane Igor was very near category five intensity After reaching its peak, Hurricane Igor turned toward the west-northewst and began a slow weakening process over the next few days with several additional ERCs observed. By September 16th, the hurricane had weakened to category three intensity while its windfield continued to expand. The weakening trend continued and by September 17th Igor was downgraded to a category two while turning more towards the northwest.
On September 18th, extremely large Hurricane Igor continued to weaken while turning more towards the north. Although weakening, the storm’s massive windfield was producing hurricane condtions outward as much as 105 miles from the storm’s center, with tropical storm force winds extending out near 350 miles. Tropical storm conditions spread across Bermuda by the early morning hours of September 19th and continued to worsen as the day progressed with hurricane conditions reaching the island shortly after nightfall. As Hurricane Igor approached Bermuda, the storm began moving more towards the north-northeast, making its closest point of approach near 11:00pm AST (0300 UTC) while passing 40 miles west of the island. At this time, Igor was a category one hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph (65 kts) and a minimum central pressure of 955 mb (28.20 in).
With the exceptionally large windfield that Hurricane Igor produced, impacts on Bermuda began well before the core of the storm approached the island. On September 17th, more than two days prior to Igor’s closest approach, large and damaging waves had already reached south facing beaches along the island with several cliff side roadways experiencing overwash from breaking wave crests. Wave heights continued to increase on September 18th with exposed sections of the island’s South Road becoming impassable as huge waves crashed onshore.
By the early morning of September 19th, with Hurricane Igor still over 250 miles away, tropical storm conditions had spread across the island with gusts frequently exceeding 50 mph (45 kts) at my location in Hamilton Parish, on the northwest side of Castle Harbour. Conditions continued to deteriorate throughout the day with the onset of hurricane conditions occuring just after nightfall on the 19th. Peak conditions occurred from 10:00 pm to midnight AST, as Igor passed just to the west of the island. I estimate maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (65 kts) with gusts near 90 mph (78 kts) impacted my location. The minimum pressure I recorded at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort was 965.7 mb (28.52 in) at 10:55 pm AST during a period of rapid pressure fluctuations, followed by a temporary recovery to 983.3 mb (29.03 in) at 12:25 am on the 20th, and then a second minimum of 966.7 mb (28.55 in) at 3:25 am. Sustained tropical storm conditions impacted my location for approximately 36 contiguous hours.
The highest officially reported winds on Bermuda during Igor’s passage were 74 mph (64 kts) with a peak gust of 93 mph (81 kts) from the official weather observing site at L.F. Wade International Airport (approximately two miles east-northeast of my location). A peak gust of 89 mph (77 kts) was also observed from an elevated location on the island. The lowest official pressure on the island was 965 mb (28.50 in), though storm chaser Mike Theiss observed a pressure of 964 mb (28.47 in) at Elbow Beach.
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Hurricane & Tropical Storm Chasing