Paloma near Category 2 strength

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:02 PM GMT on November 07, 2008

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Hurricane Paloma continues to intensify. The latest data from the Hurricane Hunters indicate that the storm is close to Category 2 strength. Between 1 pm and 3 pm EST, an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft dropped two sondes in the northwest eyewall of Paloma, and found winds of 90 and 97 mph at the surface from these sondes. The threshold of Category 2 strength is 96 mph. Winds at the surface measured by the SFMR instrument were as high as 92 mph, and the NOAA aircraft just records 101 mph winds at 3:15 pm EST. Sondes released by a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the past hour have found winds of 90 mph in the southeast eyewall, 69 mph in the southwest eyewall, and 67 mph in the northwest eyewall. Clearly, the right (east) side of Paloma is the stronger side, since the forward speed of the hurricane adds to the rotational speed of the vortex on the right side of a Northern Hemisphere hurricane. The central pressure of Paloma is dropping at about 3 mb per hour. The Hurricane Hunters noted that Paloma appeared to be forming a second eyewall concentric with the main eyewall at 1:30 pm, and there was also evidence of this on visible satellite loops. There was also a gap noted in the SSW side of the eyewall by the Hurricane Hunters at 1:30 pm, but this gap was gone by 3 pm. The storm is undergoing some substantial structural changes, and is probably entering a rapid deepening phase. Formation of a secondary concentric eyewall will ordinarily slow down intensification of a hurricane, but is also spreads out the highest winds over a larger area. I'm not convinced that a concentric eyewall is forming, though. Recent infrared imagery shows that the eye has warmed, indicating strengthening. Some very impressive thunderstorms with high, cold tops are firing up at several points in the eyewall (Figure 1), also indicative of strengthening. These thunderstorms may be "hot towers", which are often observed when a hurricane is embarking upon a major intensification phase.

Winds at the Grand Cayman airport were 38 mph, gusting to 53 mph at 2 pm EST, and heavy rain was falling. The airport has received 2.44" of rain so far today. According to wunderground member Jennie Henning at 2 pm today: Conditions here on the island are getting worse - the wind is roaring an the rain is horizontal at times. We're busy locking up and bunkering down.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of Paloma showing very intense thunderstorms developing at several points along the eyewall.

The intensity forecast
Wind shear is a moderate 10-15 knots, and is expected to slowly increase to 20 knots Saturday morning and above 35 knots on Saturday night. Paloma should be able to intensify until it reaches a point near 20° North Latitude (between the Cayman Islands and Cuba) Saturday morning. I expect Paloma will be at Category 2 strength with 105-110 mph winds when it passes near or over Grand Cayman Island tonight, and will briefly intensify to Category 3 strength after passing Grand Cayman. By Saturday morning, shear should rapidly weaken Paloma, and the hurricane will probably make landfall on Cuba Saturday afternoon or evening as a strong Category 1 hurricane. Passage over Cuba and continued high wind shear will further weaken Paloma before it arrives in the Bahamas Sunday night, and I expect Paloma will be a tropical storm with 45-55 mph winds as it blows through the Bahamas. The latest (12Z, 7 am EST) run of both the HWRF and GFDL models predict that Paloma will hit Grand Cayman Island between 9 pm and 1 am EST tonight. The GFDL predicts Paloma will be a Category 2 storm with 100-105 mph winds, while the HWRF predicts only 85 mph winds. The latest 18Z SHIPS model puts Paloma as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds at landfall in Grand Cayman. The GFDL and HWRF predict a landfall in Cuba Saturday afternoon as a Category 2 hurricane with 100-105 mph winds.

The track forecast
A strong trough of low pressure approaching the U.S. East Coast is pulling Paloma to the north, and this trough should continue to pull the storm northwards and then turn it northeastward by Saturday morning. It appears likely that Grand Cayman will receive hurricane force winds from Paloma, and there is a 70% chance the island will get hit with a portion of the eyewall. The HWRF model is predicting that Little Cayman and Cayman Brac should only see top sustained winds of 50 mph, but the GFDL predicts a little eastward jog that would bring Category 2 winds of 100 mph to these islands. It will be a close call. Jamaica should see winds of just 20-30 mph from Paloma.

Damage potential for Paloma
Grand Cayman Island is not that prone to large storm surges, since it lies in deep water, and a hurricane's surge tends to flow around the island rather than get pushed up onto shore. The main concern from Paloma is wind damage. A direct hit from a Category 2 hurricane would likely do about $100 million dollars in damage, a nasty blow for an island that just this year finished recovering from the devastating punch delivered by Hurricane Ivan of 2004. Ivan damaged or destroyed 85% of the islands buildings, and caused $1.85 billion in damage. Much of Grand Cayman still remained without power, water, or sewer services for several months after the hurricane. The latest H*Wind analysis of Integrated Kinetic Energy from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division puts the potential wind damage at 1.2 on a scale of 1 to 6, and the potential storm surge damage at 1.5 on a scale of 1 to 6. These numbers will increase later today, but Paloma should be nothing like Hurricane Ivan.

According to the insurance company AIR Worldwide: Insured residential properties are dominated by wood frame and confined masonry. Commercial properties tend to not exceed six stories and are constructed of reinforced concrete. However, after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Cayman Islands underwent a major rebuilding process. New construction is now superior to much of the rest of the Caribbean countries in terms of wind resistivity. As a result, depending on Paloma's track through the islands, properties may sustain only minor to moderate damage to roof shingles and non-structural elements.

Links to follow
Grand Cayman airport weather
Grand Cayman weather
Wundermap for the Cayman Islands

Historical November tropical cyclones
(This section is a repeat from this morning's blog entry). Historically, only about 5% of all Atlantic tropical storm activity occurs after November 1. Between 1871 and 2007, 60 tropical storms formed in November. Of these, 29 became hurricanes, and four of these, major hurricanes. There have also been two major hurricanes that formed in October and continued on into November. On average, one tropical storm forms in November every other year, and we can expect a November hurricane about one year in five.

The six major November hurricanes were Hurricane Michelle of 2001 (Cat 4, 140 mph); Hurricane Lenny of 1999 (Cat 4, 150 mph); Hurricane Kate of 1985 (Cat 3, 120 mph); Hurricane Greta of 1956 (Cat 4, 140 mph); Hurricane 10 of 1932 (Cat 4, 135 mph); and Hurricane 7 of 1912 (Cat 3, 115 mph). There have been no major hurricanes in the months December through April.

Major hurricanes in the Atlantic by month, 1851-2008
----------------------------------------------------------------------
May 1
June 3
July 9
August 80
September 149
October 60
November 6

In the list above, if a hurricane was at major hurricane strength in two separate months, it is counted as a major hurricane for both months.

November hurricanes of note
The most extraordinary November hurricane was "Wrong-Way Lenny", which hit the northern Leeward Islands as a strong Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds on November 17-18, 1999. Lenny was the first storm to have an extended west-to-east track across the central and eastern Caribbean Sea in the 135-year Atlantic tropical cyclone record, and was the strongest November hurricane on record. Hurricane Gordon was the deadliest November hurricane. It claimed 1122 lives in Haiti when it passed just west of the country as a tropical storm on November 13, 1994. Lenny claimed six lives in Costa Rica, five in the Dominican Republic, two in Jamaica, two in Cuba, and eight in Florida. Property damage to the United States was estimated at $400 million (1994 dollars), and was severe in Haiti and Cuba as well.

Three November hurricanes have hit the U.S.--an unnamed 1916 Category 1 hurricane that hit the Florida Keys, an unnamed 1925 Category 1 hurricane that struck Sarasota, Florida, and Hurricane Kate, which struck the Florida Panhandle on November 22, 1985.

A new record for the hurricane season of 2008?
This year and 2005 are the only seasons that we've had major hurricanes in the Atlantic in four separate months--July, August, September, and October. If Paloma becomes a major hurricane, it will make 2008 the first year since record keeping began in 1851 to feature major hurricanes in five separate months.

I'll have an update Saturday morning, and possibly later tonight.

Jeff Masters

Ivan damage Cayman (Cregnebaa)
Ivan damage Cayman
Under da sea (gringogeorge)
I ran into this young hawksbill in about 40 feet of water off Cayman Brac.
Under da sea

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1371. jurakantaino
9:54 PM GMT on August 30, 2009
Weather channel saying that because it loss some of the convention in the last few hours around the COC the NHC delay the call of a TD to 11:00pm
Member Since: July 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 730
1370. TheSavant
5:58 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


What the hell are you talking about? Cat5? Wow POOF**


uh huh i was right and you were 100 per cent wrong to tell me poof, you should be banned for telling people to poof when theyre just given their opinions, it was probably a cat 5 this morning and is probably one now, maybe now youll start respecting opinions instead of poofing people
1369. IKE
4:18 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting sporteguy03:



Ike can you write that percentage in word form? Thank you:)


LOL.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1368. Orcasystems
4:12 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
New blog
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1367. Orcasystems
4:08 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting hurricanealley:


LOL


Thought I would help Ike, he is getting up there in years.. and those are big words... you know how it is.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1366. hurricanealley
4:06 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting Orcasystems:


Yup... Zippo.. zero.. nada


LOL
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 971
1365. stillwaiting
4:04 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
I wonder if they'll find pressure in the 937-939mb range??,the 930's in november,that would be amazing,I think in the last 20-30yrs the season has been starting and ending SLIGHTLY earlier and later,and the end of oct. begining of nov may actually becoming the secondary peak of TC season...
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1364. Orcasystems
4:04 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting sporteguy03:



Ike can you write that percentage in word form? Thank you:)


Yup... Zippo.. zero.. nada
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1363. Hurricane4Lex
4:03 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
(sighs) I need a break [actually I need sleep]

rested for a bit but couldn't sleep properly

brb will be interesting to see the recon till then I hope there's a new blog

Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1362. sporteguy03
4:02 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting IKE:


No way.

Chances of it hitting Florida as a cane.....

.000000000001%.



Ike can you write that percentage in word form? Thank you:)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5120
1361. storm7
4:01 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
And thanks for the answer, i was not here during Omar, another interesting and unusual storm.
1360. stillwaiting
3:58 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting chessrascal:
Paloma is not moving east Link turn on Lat/Lon and zoom in.


I said almost dinkleberry,learn ho da reed...lol
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1359. storm7
3:58 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Landfall is expected just north of Manzanillo, Guacanayabo gulf may help to increase storm surge, and is a very unusual location/angle of landfall, may be the first time since record keeping began (for that area of Cuba).
1358. Hurricane4Lex
3:55 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting chessrascal:
Paloma is not moving east Link turn on Lat/Lon and zoom in.


I agree

she has been moving somewhat a hint of east but overall I think she will follow the trac if not then parallel it for now
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1357. chessrascal
3:52 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting stillwaiting:
paloma looks to be moving alomost due east,If some how it stays off cuba,the game will change alot!!!
Paloma is not moving east Link turn on Lat/Lon and zoom in.
1356. hurristat
3:50 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
I leave overnight, and what do I get? A Cat. 4.
Member Since: October 15, 2008 Posts: 11 Comments: 2305
1355. stillwaiting
3:47 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
paloma looks to be moving alomost due east,If some how it stays off cuba,the game will change alot!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1354. Hurricane4Lex
3:46 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
anyone know if her pressure has leveled off...

if that happens now I'll be convinced that I was right 2 days earlier that Paloma has nothing on Florida

if not then wait and see mode

like I said just considering the scenarios
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1353. chessrascal
3:45 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting storm7:
Is Paloma the strongest hurricane to form so late? Sorry if already answered but is my first time here since typhoon Jangmi.
nope Link Lenny was
1352. Progster
3:45 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
In spite of shear and steering flow...looks like a sharp left hook in imagery...
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 490
1351. jamnkats
3:45 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Good to see the Caymanites checking in - any word from Kman? Thinking of the Cubans today and hoping for the best for you guys, Baha.
1350. chessrascal
3:44 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
As soon as it comes off of the Cuban mountains it will be ripped apart by shear, there is almost no chance of it regenerating into a min cane or tropical storm
1349. storm7
3:44 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Is Paloma the strongest hurricane to form so late? Sorry if already answered but is my first time here since typhoon Jangmi.
1348. cchsweatherman
3:43 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
For all those still convinced that South Florida will see an organized tropical cyclone from Paloma, I refer you to the graphic that I had created earlier this morning.

Photobucket
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5030
1347. chessrascal
3:43 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting naplesdreamer28:
I just don't want to see FL being told and on the band wagon of a "who cares" attitude its only a little wind and rain and then pooof, here comes Hurr Pal. Things can change.
But believing they are going to change is Wishcasting!
1346. Hurricane4Lex
3:42 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Rains is a definite tho LOL

that's all I can say for sure LOL

could be bad if ur Bahaman in terms of rains but how's Florida?

last time I was there there was a drought but Fay changed that
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1345. naplesdreamer28
3:41 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
I just don't want to see FL being told and on the band wagon of a "who cares" attitude its only a little wind and rain and then pooof, here comes Hurr Pal. Things can change.
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1344. chessrascal
3:40 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting kimoskee:
Since when has a cone been a circle??? I don't get it. I guess it means they have no idea where the dove is headed.
Exactly
1343. storm7
3:40 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
I think Paloma will touch Cuba as cat 2 or 3.
1342. kimoskee
3:39 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Since when has a cone been a circle??? I don't get it. I guess it means they have no idea where the dove is headed.
Member Since: August 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 672
1341. chessrascal
3:39 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
I think theres a good chance that it will hit florida, but as a depression or remnant low
1340. IKE
3:38 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


the chances are better of Florida getting snow than Paloma coming here as anything organized.


Exactly.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1339. stillwaiting
3:38 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting IKE:


No way.

Chances of it hitting Florida as a cane.....

.000000000001%.


I don 't think FL will see a cane ,but with weather you never know I would say realistically less than a 5% chance of a cane,10% chance of a TS,25% chance of a TD,and about a 75'% chance of a remenent Low w/showers and a couple gusts of wind,Time will tell!!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1338. IKE
3:37 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting Hurricane4Lex:
(if ur Floridian I'd keep an eye on it)

like I said a while earlier

we may need to consider the possibility of a min cane hitting Florida

but for the record as well: That is just one of many scenarios

(if ur bahaman)

keep a very close eye on it as well and prepare for the rains or a min cat as well

Another scenario is that it could just stall at or after cuba

(if ur cuban in cuba)

You guys know wats wat



The NHC forecast for what's left of Paloma after Cuba....

72HR VT 11/1200Z 22.5N 75.8W 30 KT...DISSIPATING
96HR VT 12/1200Z 23.0N 76.3W 25 KT...REMNANT LOW
120HR VT 13/1200Z 23.0N 77.0W 20 KT...REMNANT LOW
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1337. GeoffreyWPB
3:37 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting IKE:


No way.

Chances of it hitting Florida as a cane.....

.000000000001%.


the chances are better of Florida getting snow than Paloma coming here as anything organized.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10587
1336. Hurricane4Lex
3:35 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
(if ur Floridian I'd keep an eye on it)

like I said a while earlier

we may need to consider the possibility of a min cane hitting Florida

but for the record as well: That is just one of many scenarios

(if ur bahaman)

keep a very close eye on it as well and prepare for the rains or a min cat as well

Another scenario is that it could just stall at or after cuba

(if ur cuban in cuba)

You guys know wats wat
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1335. IKE
3:31 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting naplesdreamer28:
1327. I agree it won't be no major, but do think it still has the good chance of getting FL as a Hurricane.


No way.

Chances of it hitting Florida as a cane.....

.000000000001%.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1334. HurricaneSwirl
3:31 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Well I guess Paloma has started its weakening.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
1333. storm7
3:31 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Any iformation about Little Cayman and Cayman Brac? They were very near (or inside) the eyewall.

1332. naplesdreamer28
3:30 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Does anyone know how mountainous the area will be that Pal will go over when on Cuba and how long she will be over Cuba?
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1331. naplesdreamer28
3:29 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
1327. I agree it won't be no major, but do think it still has the good chance of getting FL as a Hurricane.
Member Since: July 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 242
1330. kdav
3:25 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
teh combo of cuban mountians and high shear = epic fail for paloma
1329. Orcasystems
3:25 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Click to enlarge








Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1328. stillwaiting
3:24 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting naplesdreamer28:
I see S FL is in the long term cone now since last night. In terms of strength, I don't see it being only a remnant low hitting FL. It has built so quickly and has such good structure we could see it survive on it s own when back over water, like we have seen a few storms do this year.

Cuba is not going to take it from a Cat 4/5 to a Depression! I think we are being a little to conservative with strength after Cuba and possibly FL.


wind sheer values over FL and in the eastern GOM,will be 30-40kts aleast it will destroy paloma,not the land interaction...
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
1327. yonzabam
3:19 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting naplesdreamer28:
I see S FL is in the long term cone now since last night. In terms of strength, I don't see it being only a remnant low hitting FL. It has built so quickly and has such good structure we could see it survive on it s own when back over water, like we have seen a few storms do this year.

Cuba is not going to take it from a Cat 4/5 to a Depression! I think we are being a little to conservative with strength after Cuba and possibly FL.


Maybe not, but the combination of land interaction with Cuba, followed by adverse wind shear toppled Gustav's 'chimney' and it dropped from a strong cat 4 to a cat 2. It never regained its strength and made landfall as a cat 2.

I believe the wind shear that will affect Palomo is even stronger. I doubt if it will have an eye when it clears Cuba.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2439
1326. chessrascal
3:16 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Whens the next blog???
1325. Hurricane4Lex
3:16 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Im back from breakfast what did I miss?

PS when's Dr. M's new blog?
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1324. JupiterFL
3:13 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting Bobbyweather:
I don't like NHC, they kept it at 140 mph!!

NHC doensn't like you either so the feelings are mutual.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
1323. Patrap
3:11 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Short Floater - Water Vapor Loop Link

Cuban Radar Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125681
1322. IKE
3:10 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting Orcasystems:


Yeah.. if your not Cuban


True.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1321. Orcasystems
3:09 PM GMT on November 08, 2008
Quoting IKE:
The good news is...there won't be much left of it after it crosses Cuba.


Yes.. if your not Cuban
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493

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About

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