Category 4 Paloma pounds the Cayman Islands, heads to Cuba

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:07 PM GMT on November 08, 2008

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Hurricane Paloma exploded into a extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds last night as it hammered the Cayman Islands. Paloma now ranks as the second most powerful November hurricane on record, and stands poised to deliver Cuba a devastating blow tonight. The latest data from the Hurricane Hunters and satellites indicate that Paloma has probably peaked in strength, and will slowly weaken today. Visible satellite loops show that strong upper-level winds from the west are starting to restrict the upper-level outflow on the west side of the storm, though the hurricane still has impressive organization and a well-formed eye. Infrared satellite loops show that the hurricane's cloud tops are warming, indicating weakening. The latest Hurricane Hunter mission departed the storm at 6:30 am EST, and the next mission should arrive about 1 pm EST. Radar from Camaguey, Cuba shows no evidence that the shear has weakened the eyewall of Paloma. There is evidence to suggest the hurricane may be forming a concentric eyewall, which would act to spread the hurricane's winds over a larger area and increase the region affected by a high storm surge.

Paloma's impact on the Cayman Islands
A strong trough of low pressure over the U.S. East Coast began pulling Paloma to the northeast late last night. Paloma's turn to the northeast came earlier than originally forecast, much to the advantage of Grand Cayman Island, but much to the detriment of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac islands. The earlier turn also allowed Paloma to stay just south of the higher levels of wind shear that would have weakened the hurricane. The eye of Paloma passed just east of Grand Cayman, and the strongest eyewall winds barely missed the island. Winds at the Grand Cayman airport on the west end of the island peaked out at 46 mph gusting to 62 mph at 7 pm EST, though winds were close to hurricane force on the east end of the island. Preliminary news reports indicate that the island suffered some flooding, but no major wind damage or storm surge.

Little Cayman and Cayman Brac were not so lucky. There are reports of heavy damage on the islands, which received a long battering by the northern eyewall of Paloma. Cayman Brac, which lies a little farther south than Little Cayman, took a direct hit, with the calm of the eye lasting several hours. Ironically, today is the anniversary of the deadly 1932 hurricane that flattened Cayman Brac, killing 69 people.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of Paloma at 9 am EST Saturday November 8, 2008. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

The forecast
A strong trough of low pressure over the U.S. East Coast is pulling Paloma to the northeast, and this trough should continue to pull the storm across Cuba tonight and into the Bahama Islands on Sunday. Wind shear is a high 25 knots, and is expected to increase to 35 knots tonight and 45 knots on Sunday. Paloma should not be able to intensify any further under this kind of shear, though it may be able to hold on to its current intensity until tonight, since it will take some time for the increasing shear to be able to penetrate into the heart of such a powerful, well-formed vortex and disrupt it. Landfall tonight in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds is a good bet, which is the forecast of the latest 12Z SHIPS intensity model. The HWRF model foresees a Catgeory 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds at landfall in Cuba, while the GFDL calls for a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. Regardless of its intensity at landfall, Paloma will bring an exceptionally high storm surge of 17-23 feet to the coast of Cuba, since the hurricane has set a large volume of ocean in motion with its Category 4 winds. There is also a large area of shallow water just offshore the south coast of Cuba that will allow the storm surge to pile up to a great height. Cuba will take a terrific pounding from Paloma, and damage from the triple crunchings delivered by Hurricanes Gustav, Ike, and Paloma will make 2008 the worst hurricane season in Cuban history. The latest H*Wind analysis of Integrated Kinetic Energy from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division puts the potential wind damage at 2.6 on a scale of 1 to 6, and the potential storm surge damage at 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 6. The relatively low storm surge potential is misleading, since Paloma is headed toward a portion of the Cuban coast that is highly prone to storm surge.

Passage over Cuba combined with extremely high values of wind shear should tear apart Paloma before it reaches the central and southeastern Bahamas. The HWRF, GFDL, and SHIPS intensity models are all calling for Paloma to dissipate or be a tropical storm or tropical depression by the time it arrives in the Bahamas on Sunday, and this is a reasonable forecast. Paloma has virtually no chance of surviving long enough to threaten Florida.

Links to follow
Radar from Camaguey, Cuba
Santa Cruz del Sur, Cuba weather

A new record for the hurricane season of 2008
This year is now the only hurricane season on record in the Atlantic that has featured major hurricanes in five separate months. The only year to feature major hurricanes in four separate months was 2005, and many years have had major hurricanes in three separate months. This year's record-setting fivesome were Hurricane Bertha in July, Hurricane Gustav in August, Hurricane Ike in September, Hurricane Omar in October, and Hurricane Paloma in November.

Paloma is now the second strongest November hurricane on record in the Atlantic. Hurricane Lenny of 1999, a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds, was the strongest November hurricane on record. Paloma shares second place with Hurricane Michelle of 2001 (Cat 4, 140 mph) and Hurricane Greta of 1956 (Cat 4, 140 mph).

I'll have an update Sunday, possibly not until the afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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1145. RobDaHood
3:28 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
1142. Bonedog

...so it hits close to home for me

I've made a lot of friends all around the basin over the years, that makes it go from "just another interesting storm hitting just another pretty island" to something that is real and hurtful.

I said the other day, that the one downside of this blog is getting to know people who are in harms way...Adds to the worry list, nice feeling when they check-in and let you know they're okay.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 96 Comments: 31874
1144. Hurricane4Lex
3:27 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
new blog guys!
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1143. Hurricane4Lex
3:24 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
(NOT) Nice to see I have this coming towards my area

Link

could anything come from it???
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1142. Bonedog
3:20 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
hey conchy. welcome back. glad to hear that you were not affected.

my heart and prayers go out to the Caymens and Cuba

A friend of mine has alot of family in the Caymens. so it hits close to home for me.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1141. RobDaHood
3:19 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
1138. conchygirl

Glad to hear it wasn't a total wash-out for you. Folks were saying it was pretty wet down there (G.Cayman) ahead of the storm.

Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 96 Comments: 31874
1139. Hurricane4Lex
3:16 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting conchygirl:
Hey Rob: Fortunately, for us, we were not impacted by Paloma at all. One night a bit rocky but not a big deal. It was pouring in Grand Cayman the day we were there so assumed that was results of Paloma. Poor Cuba, Cayman's and some others areas sure have had a tough season and they need a break!


Hope they get the break they need too.

looks like there will be nothing out there at present

Link
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1138. conchygirl
3:14 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Hey Rob: Fortunately, for us, we were not impacted by Paloma at all. One night a bit rocky but not a big deal. It was pouring in Grand Cayman the day we were there so assumed that was results of Paloma. Poor Cuba, Cayman's and some others areas sure have had a tough season and they need a break!
Member Since: June 11, 2008 Posts: 24 Comments: 5910
1137. RobDaHood
3:11 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Hi folks!

1130. RTLSNK LOL, been there before!

1132. conchygirl Hey conchy, the night crew has been asking and wondering about you and your cruise.

Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 96 Comments: 31874
1136. Hurricane4Lex
3:11 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
anyone know how cold the southern states will be?

(like from where I live (zip 77584) to where I used to live (zip 33028))
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1135. Hurricane4Lex
3:09 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting DewyCheatum:
Anyone got a link to articles or photos of damage on Little Cayman or Cayman Brac? All I can find are items about Cuba.


some photos were posted a bit earlier

(like somewhere between 1050 to now)
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 658
1134. DewyCheatum
3:08 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
thanks vortfix
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 50
1132. conchygirl
3:06 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Morning All: Back from our Western Caribbean cruise. We were watching Paloma closely and sorry to see the impact it had on Cayman Brac and Cuba. Hopefully, this is the end for the season.
Member Since: June 11, 2008 Posts: 24 Comments: 5910
1131. DewyCheatum
3:04 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Anyone got a link to articles or photos of damage on Little Cayman or Cayman Brac? All I can find are items about Cuba.
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 50
1130. RTLSNK
3:02 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Forgot to check the local weather cast for today, walked out to get the paper this morning wearing shorts and t-shirt and went "What the heck"???
Member Since: September 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 20861
1129. Bonedog
2:48 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
no problem foggy
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1128. foggymyst
2:45 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Thanks Bonedog.
Member Since: September 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 383
1126. futuremet
2:38 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
I will be uploading a video of Paloma's eyewall in cayman brac =D
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
1125. Bonedog
2:35 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
yup noticed that too NE. GFS runs out to the 26th has us behind the -10 line! also injects moisture over us during that time frame, might see some snows
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1124. NEwxguy
2:33 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting Bonedog:
Morning NE welcome back. Going to be a cold one for us according to the models =)


Hey Bone,sounds like its going to be cold for a few days,but a warm front and a lot of rain at the end of the week.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 877 Comments: 15708
1123. Bonedog
2:31 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
foggy



looks like a cold front 7 to 8 days away
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1122. IKE
2:29 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting SpeedyDemon:
Thumbs down to underground for it's 5 day tracking map presentation of Paloma over the past couple of days. It's been exactly the same as the short term tracking map. Here it is Monday morning and the 5 day tracking map only shows through Tues. Is this a case of when unsure, do nothing? Tacky.


No thumbs down. It's the same as what the NHC shows. System dissipates sooner then the 5 day period.


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1120. foggymyst
2:25 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Good morning.. checking in and saying 2 things..

WISHCASTING a cold front for SOUTH FLORIDA.

Here's hoping the cane season ends quielty.

~fm
Member Since: September 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 383
1119. SpeedyDemon
2:23 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Thumbs down to underground for it's 5 day tracking map presentation of Paloma over the past couple of days. It's been exactly the same as the short term tracking map. Here it is Monday morning and the 5 day tracking map only shows through Tues. Is this a case of when unsure, do nothing? Tacky.
1118. Bonedog
2:11 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Morning NE welcome back. Going to be a cold one for us according to the models =)
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1116. NEwxguy
2:06 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
GM all,nice to be back after a week away,I missed and interesting week,the caymans and cuba really took it on the chin.Lets hope thats it for this year
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 877 Comments: 15708
1115. SpicyAngel1072
2:02 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Thanks bone!
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
1114. Bonedog
2:01 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Morning Spicy.

Looking at shear maps and such appears that the reminant low of Paloma will be fully sheared to death so what the models are showing is just a lower sea level pressure area nothing to worry about =)
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1113. SpicyAngel1072
1:51 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Good morning all!

I worked all weekend and this is the first chance I had to check out Paloma. WOW! My heart goes out to the islands...

What she going to do now. The models I just glanced at take her into the gulf?
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
1112. kmanislander
1:45 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Back later
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15798
1111. kmanislander
1:43 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
1072. SSideBrac 4:00 AM GMT on November 10, 2008

Good morning to all.

It is heart wrenching to see the photos of the Brac, and for many on Grand Cayman it will bring back the horrors of Ivan. To have been sitting here on Grand Cayman and knowing what you all were going through on the Brac and LC at the height of the storm was the hardest part of all.

Grand Cayman and friends of the islands will ensure that relief is immediate and that restoration of essentials such as water and power will commence promptly.

I am glad to see you made it ok personally and hope that you and your family are doing well.

My family comes from the Brac and some still live there so it is doubly difficult for me to see what has happened.
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1110. Bonedog
1:40 PM GMT on November 10, 2008


Looks like we will have to keep an eye out there for some cells. Appears to be a nice chase day
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1108. RTLSNK
1:32 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Good morning, 34 F in Macon, Ga 92% humidity.
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1106. futuremet
1:29 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Hurricane Paloma

Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
1105. futuremet
1:19 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting vortfix:
Good morning all.
It's a severe weather Monday for the Southern Plains states and into Central/East Texas:




Photobucket

Photobucket



This may be significant, a good inflow of warm moist air from the south, moderate jet stream winds to trigger vorticity, and some air aloft. We may get isolated supercellular storms
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
1104. Bonedog
1:18 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Yes IKE I do. GFS run has it cold till the 26th. Finally get to stop guessing at the temps and just know I need my Carhart.

Living up in the mountains of NJ I wake up to freezing temps but by the time I get to work and as the day wears on it gets into the 60s or so. Always having changes in the truck to keep up.

With that cold shot coming and staying no more worries, just know its cold =)

Just have to keep an eye out for any storms, with that much cold in place any precip will be of the frozen kind =)
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1102. futuremet
1:13 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
A vigorous front is expected to pass over the Eastern United states about 200 hours from now. The GFS is indicating this may help trigger vorticity levels and tropical cyclogenesis in the southwestern Caribbean.
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
1101. IKE
1:09 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting Bonedog:
looking at the long range GFS starting at 156hrs till the end of the run looks to be a VERY cold week, seeing alot of -10 for the Upper Midwest to the midatlantic especially the NE


Is see you live in Jersey....cold all week.


Your welcome melwerle.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1100. melwerle
1:06 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Thanks Ike...

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 1837
1099. IKE
1:06 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
The center of what's left of Paloma is off of the north coast of Cuba....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1098. Bonedog
1:05 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
looking at the long range GFS starting at 156hrs till the end of the run looks to be a VERY cold week, seeing alot of -10 for the Upper Midwest to the midatlantic especially the NE
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
1097. IKE
1:04 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting Bonedog:
I noticed that too IKE. Looks like the weather is finally turning.


It's cold here this morning, but should warm to near 70.

Yeah...it looks like 2 shots of cold-air possible for the eastern USA and possibly my first freeze coming up.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1096. IKE
1:02 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
Quoting melwerle:
VERY cold here in Savannah this morning...wondering if we might even get a dusting of snow this year at some point...has been cold very early this year.

Has anyone heard from kman since Paloma?


He was on yesterday. He came through okay. I think his top wind gust was in the 50's.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1095. Bonedog
1:01 PM GMT on November 10, 2008
I noticed that too IKE. Looks like the weather is finally turning.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418

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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.