Virgin Islands brace for Hurricane Omar

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:24 PM GMT on October 15, 2008

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Hurricane Omar is on the move, headed for an encounter with the Virgin Islands and northern Lesser Antilles late tonight and early Thursday morning. Omar is passing very close to Buoy 42059, which measured sustained winds of 58 mph gusting to 72, and 17 foot waves, at 8:50 am EDT. The storm continues to pound the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao with heavy rains. Rainfall amounts of 2-4 inches have been observed over the past three days in these islands, and Netherlands Antilles radar shows that more rain is on the way from Omar's southern spiral band. Rain will be ending early this evening in the ABC Islands, and no significant flooding or damage is likely there.

The latest Hurricane Hunter center fix at 7:30 am EDT found that the pressure has remained nearly constant since yesterday afternoon, 984 mb. The 35-mile diameter eyewall had a gap in it on the south side, and it is apparent that Omar is still struggling with wind shear. Shear was analyzed at 20 knots this morning, which is on the high side of where hurricanes are still able to intensify. Satellite loops show that low level spiral bands and upper level outflow are not present on Omar's west side, due to strong upper level winds from the west creating wind shear on that side of the storm. Outflow and spiral banding are impressive on the other three sides of the storm. A hint of an eye is apparent on visible satellite images. The eye of Omar is now visible on long range radar out of Puerto Rico, and this will be a good way to track the storm until the next Hurricane Hunter flight arrives at 2 pm EDT this afternoon.


Figure 1. Current satellite image of Omar.

The forecast for Omar
The models are tightly clustered along a path that would take Omar through the Virgin Islands late tonight. However, the east coast of Puerto Rico and the islands farther east, such as St. Martin/St. Maartin and Anguilla, are still in the cone of uncertainty, and could get a direct hit. Our main intensity models--the GFDL, HWRF, and SHIPS--all forecast that Omar will be a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75-85 mph as it passes through the islands. Wind shear is expected to be in the moderate to high range, 15-25 knots, over the next two days, which should allow some modest intensification. I give Omar a 30% chance of reaching Category 2 strength before landfall early Thursday morning, and a 10% chance of being a major Category 3 hurricane.

Omar's storm surge
Wind damage is likely to be the greatest threat from Omar. Storm surge is usually not a problem in the Virgin Islands and northern Lesser Antilles, since these islands are surrounded by deep water, and the surge tends to flow around the islands, rather than be forced up onto the islands. As seen in Figure 2, the maximum storm tide from a mid-strength Category 3 hurricane with 120-125 mph winds is generally in the 3-4 foot range in the Virgin Islands. St. Thomas and Anedega Islands can get a slightly higher surge of 5-6 feet, due to their convex shape facing southwest, which will tend to trap the surge from a northeastward moving hurricane. Since Omar is expected to be a weaker Category 1 or 2 hurricane, maximum storm surge heights of 1-2 feet are expected in the Virgin Islands. The down side of having deep water close to shore is that the waves will be high, and the Virgin Islands and northern Lesser Antilles Islands can expect considerable coastal erosion and damage to coastal structures due to high battering waves.


Figure 2. Expected maximum storm tide (storm surge plus a correction for the storm hitting at high tide) for a Category 3 hurricane moving northeast at 12 mph through the Virgin Islands. This is NOT the surge expected from a particular storm, but rather the maximum computed storm tide (Maximum Envelope of Waters, or MEOW) from eleven different simulated hurricanes (with tracks shown in black with arrows). The simulations were done using NOAA's SLOSH model.

Links to follow
Puerto Rico radar
Eastern Caribbean buoy 42059
San Juan, Puerto Rico weather
St. Croix, Virgin Islands weather
Martinique radar

Tropical Depression 16 off the coast of Honduras
Tropical Depression 16, near the Honduras/Nicaragua border, remains a disorganized heavy rainmaker. Satellite estimates suggest TD 16 has already dumped up to six inches of rain on northern Honduras and Nicaragua, and more heavy rains are on the way for those countries, plus Belize, northern Guatemala, and southern portions of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Satellite loops show that TD 16 is a very large but poorly organized storm, with several far-flung spiral bands that are spreading heavy thunderstorms over a wide area of the Western Caribbean and Central America. The center of circulation is broad and difficult to pin down, but appears to be over the water, within 50 miles of the coast of Honduras.

The forecast for TD 16
The system is expected to track very close to the coast of Honduras, and this proximity to land should limit intensification potential. None of the models are calling for TD 16 to become any stronger than a 40 mph tropical storm. Given the storm's current disorganization, I doubt that it will ever become a tropical storm. However, the depression is going to bring potentially dangerous amounts of rainfall capable of causing flash flooding and mudslides.

Hurricane Ike relief efforts
There continues to be an urgent need for relief supplies in the wake of Hurricane Ike. I recommend contributions to the portlight.org charity fund, formed by wunderground memebrs to serve the needs of those often bypassed by traditional relief efforts. Contributions are fully tax-deductible, and more details can be found at StormJunkie's blog.

I'll have an update this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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474. MVA
8:47 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
What happened to TD16? When I look at satellite imagery it looks as the worst rains have already passed me, being in Tela, between San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba... That's WAY west of where the center of TD16 suposedly is.

Is this a correct observation or should I look at some different data that I'm not aware off (which is very much possible :-))?

Can some people look into that and give me some info about what still to expect at center-west of northcoast Honduras?

Would be very helpfull for me.

Thanks!

M.
473. msphar
8:40 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Virtual buoy at 18.0 65.5 is showing ESE winds 30-41Kt this evening shifting to ENE 37-51 Kt then tapering off tommorow morning WNW 26-35.

Looks good considering what could have been.
fingers crossed.
Member Since: August 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 289
472. Orcasystems
8:20 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Refreshed
Still east of track and cone
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
471. GatorWX
8:04 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
DOW -740, or 8%
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2739
470. SpicyAngel1072
8:03 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting fmbill:


Yup...wind patterns this time of year always focuses activity in the Carribean. TD 16 will either fall apart or head to the Pacific. Some of the energy & moisture is shown breaking away from TD 16 to potentiall form another low in the Carribean. It is this low that the models a pickingup on, and bringing it toward the gulf.


I'm not sure ...that was what I was asking everyone...

I previewed 2 links : the cmc and someone else posted one I'm not sure the name but it said GEM something and both had one coming to central FL. I was wondering if it was indeed TD 16 or another one and what variable will be pushing or pulling it this way. The models did show some "wobble" in them.

Thank you for answering me :)
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
469. TexInsAgent
8:03 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting weatherblog:


There's noboby really named Amanda. It turned out to be a man.


LOL thats is funny
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
468. GatorWX
8:03 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
PR is out of woods as far as a direct impact and I'm beginning to question the US VI's as well. Looks like Omar is moving too far east. Steering currents are going to be increasing this evening and certainly tomorrow, and we will see a definitive NNE-NE movement, but as of now the northern Antilles look to be at greatest risk.
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2739
467. CybrTeddy
8:03 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Yea, judging by Recon reports we should see atleast a 90 MPH CAT 1 at 5 PM, maybe even A category 2.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23636
466. fmbill
8:00 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting SpicyAngel1072:
Does anyone know the variables that will be determining this? fronts, etc...


Yup...wind patterns this time of year always focuses activity in the Carribean. TD 16 will either fall apart or head to the Pacific. Some of the energy & moisture is shown breaking away from TD 16 to potentiall form another low in the Carribean. It is this low that the models a pickingup on, and bringing it toward the gulf.
Member Since: May 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
465. IKE
7:59 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
NEW BLOG!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
464. JupiterFL
7:58 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Tired of getting busted all the time. Its not our fault your so bad at acting.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
463. weatherblog
7:58 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting TexInsAgent:
453
I bet Amanda is proud of you


There's noboby really named Amanda. It turned out to be a man.
Member Since: July 10, 2006 Posts: 27 Comments: 1623
460. weatherblog
7:57 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
453, your not funny. Enough said...
Member Since: July 10, 2006 Posts: 27 Comments: 1623
458. SpicyAngel1072
7:56 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Does anyone know the variables that will be determining this? fronts, etc...
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
457. TexInsAgent
7:56 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
453
I bet Amanda is proud of you
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
456. KBH
7:56 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
just noticed a blob down south. Is that heading to south america or uturn up the island chain?
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 278
454. Relix
7:54 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
So after all is said and done, how does Omar look for PR? I went around to play some games and haven't paid attention so... can anyone give me a quick summary of the past hour?
Member Since: August 3, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2662
452. JupiterFL
7:53 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting Tropicalamandafan:
443

FINE FINE FINE!!!!!!!!!
YALL WANT DA TRUTH I MA EDDYE OOOKE I AM EDDYE AND I AM SICK OF YOU WALL IGNORING ME. I QUIT THIS BLOG

BAN ME IF YOU WANT ADMINS

BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is someone on here named Eddye? Sorry never heard of them.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
450. SpicyAngel1072
7:52 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Can I ask...2 of the long range models are predicting one to come to FL next week. I am assuming (as I'm a novice) that another one will form? Or will it be TD 16?
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
449. IKE
7:51 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Omar almost due south of San Juan north.....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
447. JupiterFL
7:50 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting Tropicalamandafan:
425

more storm more fun more time here blogging with my friends =D


So far bubba sparx here has used the words bad boy, afta, and messed. I'm impressed someone of your age could perfect the English language like you have.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
446. weatherblog
7:50 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting Tropicalamandafan:
434

this sucks, I am disappointed. I found this blog a couple days ago, and I thought you guys liked hurricanes.

I'll be leaving soon


If you found this blog a couple of days ago, how have you heard of TropicalAmanda? You can't even lie well.
Member Since: July 10, 2006 Posts: 27 Comments: 1623
445. FSUCOOPman
7:50 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting champagnedrmz:
439

Found this blog a couple days ago but your a fan of Tropicalamanda. Think of a better lie next time really.


BUSTED!!! ;-)
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 371
444. IKE
7:49 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
8-14 day temperature outlook for the USA...

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
443. champagnedrmz
7:48 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
439

Found this blog a couple days ago but your a fan of Tropicalamanda. Think of a better lie next time really.

Orca could you please email me how you get an image to paste on here from google earth. TIA
441. KBH
7:47 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
good luck to you Gary, this one maybe different coming from the west
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 278
440. Thundercloud01221991
7:46 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting Cotillion:
The pressure is really dropping.

And the winds are going up. It may look worse on IR but the stats that matter says its getting stronger.


what I see on IR is a consolidating system getting smaller = faster intensification
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
438. KBH
7:45 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
what is the word in PR and nearby islands to the north?
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 278
437. Cotillion
7:44 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
The pressure is really dropping.

And the winds are going up. It may look worse on IR but the stats that matter says its getting stronger.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
435. Orcasystems
7:44 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Still east of Track and cone
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
434. IKE
7:44 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting Tropicalamandafan:
411

I just can't understand this. tell me, what is not fun being inside a hurricane?

I personally hate the aftermath and destruction. But being inside one is worth it. aand I am NOT A WISHCASTER


That's about what the definition is....wanting one to affect you...or to be in one....that makes you a wishcaster...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
433. Thundercloud01221991
7:44 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Dropsound in eye finds 84 knts near the surface

Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
430. lawntonlookers
7:43 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
RECON just passed near the COC and it is 30 miles NE of where it was located at the last pass which was 1 hour 49 minutes ago. Looks like the center is still moving NE
Member Since: March 22, 2006 Posts: 9 Comments: 1570
429. Seacap
7:43 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Hi all,
I'm sitting in Benners Bay on St. Thomas. Back in the mangroves on my boat. This will be the fourth hurricane I have ridden out here. Thought I would post some weather observations as Omar approuches.
Wind picking up out of th SE around 10 knts. (it has been dead calm). Light rain. Baramoter steady at 1012mb. time 3:45 AST

Cheers,
Gary
428. theshepherd
7:43 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
Quoting IKE:


How do you know it's a he?
Fits the profile. Definetly a "he". Notice the fantasy avatar.
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10077
426. KBH
7:43 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
In Barbados, weather been generally overcast, even hot sunshine, till 10 minutes ago. Feeder bands coming from the SSW with TS activity that possibly cause some flooding
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 278
425. cycloone
7:43 PM GMT on October 15, 2008
I think the 2009 season will be big, but I hope not
Member Since: March 2, 2003 Posts: 65 Comments: 1009

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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