Igor is Out There

Tropical Storm Igor has formed from a tropical wave that rolled off the west coast of Africa a few days ago. The storm is expected to become Hurricane Igor by Saturday and strengthen as it rolls across the unusually warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami are saying that predicting the intensity of Igor during the next few days is "tricky." But it's a different story when you look at Igor's prospects for strengthening 10 days or so from now.

"There is plenty of warm water and light shear forecast in the path of Igor, which would promote development of a large and powerful hurricane," the latest NHC forecast says.

If Igor does become a powerful hurricane, it would be in keeping with many of the storms that have received the "I" name since 1995, when we entered a pattern of more active hurricane seasons.

Only in 1997 was the season not active enough to produce the nine storms needed to reach that year's "I" name. And three times in the past seven years, the "I" storm became a memorable monster hurricane.

In 2003, Hurricane Isabel formed from a tropical wave on September 6. Isabel reached its peak intensity as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 165 mph. Thankfully, the storm weakened before it made landfall at Cape Lookout, North Carolina. But it still did massive damage and blasted us back into the 19th century for a couple of weeks when its eye passed over us here in Plymouth.

Hurricane Ivan, which formed September 2, 2004, became one of the worst hurricanes on record when it devastated the Caymen Islands as a Category 5 storm (see here for a 2007 post about the awful power of Hurricane Ivan).

After smashing the Caymens, Ivan entered the Gulf of Mexico and struck Pensacola, Florida as a Category 3 hurricane with winds exceeding 120 mph.

Hurricane Ike formed September 1, 2008 and peaked as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Ike lost most of its fury as it crossed the length of Cuba, but still caused major damage when it struck Galveston, Texas a few days later.

There's no way of knowing for certain what this storm will do, but given the severity of its infamous "I" predecessors, it's a little unpleasant to contemplate a Hurricane Igor -- especially with a name that is straight out of Hollywood monster movies.

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