Tropical Storm Agatha one of the top ten deadliest Eastern Pacific storms on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:56 PM GMT on May 31, 2010

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The Eastern Pacific hurricane season of 2010 is off to a bad start. The mounting death toll from Central America's Tropical Storm Agatha has made that storm one of the top ten deadliest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones on record. Agatha was a tropical storm for just 12 hours, making landfall Saturday on the Pacific coast of Guatemala as a 45 mph tropical storm. However, the storm brought huge amounts of moisture inland that continue to be wrung out as heavy rains by the high mountains of Guatemala and the surrounding nations of Central America. So far, flooding and landslides have killed at least 83 people in Guatemala, 13 in neighboring El Salvador, and one in Honduras. Guatemala is also suffering from the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala, which began erupting four days ago. At least three people have been killed by the volcano, located about 25 miles south of the capital, Guatemala City. The volcano has destroyed 800 homes with lava and brought moderate ash falls to the capital.


Figure 1. Flood damage in Zunil, Quetzaltenango, in Guatemala on May 29, 2010, after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Agatha. Image credit: Sergio Huertas, climaya.com

Agatha is the deadliest flooding disaster in Guatemala since Hurricane Stan of 2005, which killed 1,513. In a bizarre coincidence, that storm also featured a major volcanic eruption at the same time, when El Salvador's Santa Ana volcano blew its top during the height of Stan's rains in in that country on October 1. The eruption killed two and injured dozens, and worsened the mud flow damage from Stan's rains. The deadliest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record for Guatemala was Hurricane Paul of 1982, which made landfall in Guatemala as a tropical depression. Flooding from Paul's rains killed 620 people in Guatemala.


Figure 2. Two-day rainfall totals for Central America as estimated by satellite, for the period 7pm EDT Friday May 28 - 7pm EDT Sunday May 30, 2010. Rainfall amounts of 350 mm (14 inches, orange colors) were indicated for portions of Guatemala. The Guatemala government reported that rainfall exceeded 36 inches in some regions. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Oil spill update
Light onshore winds out of the south to southwest are expected to blow over the northern Gulf of Mexico all week, resulting increased threats of oil to the Alabama and Mississippi barrier islands, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA. These persistent southwesterly winds will likely bring oil very close to the Florida Panhandle by next weekend.

Oil spill resources
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post Wednesday with answers to some of the common questions I get about the spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
NOAA trajectory forecasts
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command web site
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Surface current forecasts from NOAA's HYCOM model
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and its Aftermath
What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

Jeff Masters

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1550. Patrap
Rescuing birds

Rescuing birds
Added by Matthew Hinton, The Times-Picayune on May 31, 2010 at 8:09 PM

MATTHEW HINTON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Michael Sealy tries to net a oiled gull near Venice at the mouth of the Mississippi River with the Gulf of Mexico while boat captain Herman DeMoll, Jr. and U.S. Fish and Wildlife firefighter John Hawkins look on Monday May 31, 2010.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
we could see something like this

example only do not freak out JFV


Ah, Floyd. We were really lucky that baby turned north.
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1548. Patrap
Rescuing birds

Rescuing birds
Added by Matthew Hinton, The Times-Picayune on May 31, 2010 at 8:10 PM

MATTHEW HINTON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE A darker possibly oil covered pelican takes off near the South Pass of the Mississippi River by the Gulf of Mexico Monday May 31, 2010. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers pilot their boats by rigs and other structures to make the birds fly away. If the birds don't fly they are likely to be covered with oil and have trouble flying. But even if visibly covered with oil and the birds still fly away then the officers will still let the birds go because of the difficulty to catch them.
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1546. Patrap
Rescuing birds

Rescuing birds
Added by Matthew Hinton, The Times-Picayune on May 31, 2010 at 8:10 PM

MATTHEW HINTON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers try to catch oiled birds like this gull by throwing food to it. It sometimes takes several days for the birds to get more comfortable with people or tired out before the birds can be netted and then taken to an animal rehab center. This gull tries to grab bread near Venice at the mouth of the Mississippi River by the Gulf of Mexico on Monday May 31, 2010.
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1545. Relix
Talking about rain in PR both radars are down, the latest one has a message:

Message Date: Jun 01 2010 00:32:53 THE SAN JUAN TERMINAL DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR (TSJU) IS INOPERABLE LIKELY AS A RES ULT TO COMMS FAILURE DUE TO INTENSE LIGHTNING DATA NEAR THE RADAR SITE. FAA TECH S WILL GO TO THE SITE TOMORROW./ROSA

Told ya it was bad =P. I live very close to this radar too.
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Isn't that "burst of convection centred around 7N? Well, a goodly portion of the ITCZ is now near or North of 7N..... anything crossing along the ITCZ at 10N and above is fair game for development.....

I'm watching now to see the transition[s] in the AB high setup. I didn't honestly expect anything to form before season opening, but I'm nowhere as skeptical about June. And while June systems are usually relatively mild, I wouldn't be surprised by a wild one this year....
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Quoting pottery:

Yep. Pam distracts me too. Those elbows, man..........


Right that's always the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions her. Really great pair of...elbows.
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1541. Relix
Quoting pottery:

I been looking at that. Looks like heavy stuff there.
How much rain so far?


Well I love in the north, a few miles west of San Juan. I can tell you that the last downpour lasted well over a constant 5 hours in the area I live, and I mean lots and lots of rain. Right now there's just some light rain but I expect some heavier one soon. I am also sure the whole island is covered in thunder storms. The lightning I've been seeing tonight is one of the most impressive I've witnessed in my life. It calmed down a bit now but it sure did grab me by surprise. Didn't expect so much rain today honestly. Some local roads are flooded but because the drainage system couldn't keep up with the food. Just outside my house the road is under water but maybe by half an inch or less. News still haven't reported major flooding though, which is surprising.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
we could see something like this

example only do not freak out JFV

hahaha, he's run to his forecasting hut, locked the door, and is hiding under the desk.
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1539. Patrap
Scientists warn of unseen deepwater oil disaster
By The Associated Press
May 31, 2010, 12:05PM


Independent scientists and government officials say there's an aspect to the oil spill disaster we can't see, hidden in the Gulf of Mexico's mysterious depths; the ruin of a world inhabited by enormous sperm whales and tiny, invisible plankton.

Researchers have said they have found at least two massive underwater plumes of what appears to be oil, each hundreds of feet deep and stretching for miles. Yet the chief executive of BP PLC -- which has for weeks downplayed everything from the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf to the environmental impact -- said there is "no evidence" that huge amounts of oil are suspended undersea.

BP CEO Tony Hayward said the oil naturally gravitates to the surface -- and any oil below was just making its way up. However, researchers say the disaster in waters where light doesn't shine through could ripple across the food chain.
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1538. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting atmoaggie:

The right scenario in Miami could equal Katrina's costs and loss of habitable housing...
we could see something like this

example only do not freak out JFV
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


A repeat of the 1926 Miami hurricane would cost closer to $180 billion USD today.

But would the lose of life be worse or same or less?
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Whoa! Get a gander at that ITCZ transition!


I guess that would truly signal the start of the season.
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1534. msphar
Well its June 1st somewhere on Ma Earth, so I guess its time to take my seat in the Peanut Gallery. Time for the show to begin! The wave train is cranked up, SST are fired up, someone needs to cut down the shear thing and stifle all that African dusty stuff.

Must say all the talk about climate change recently had me thinking there might be a storm or two ahead of the season but I guess thats just another bust. On well, can't win them all.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Mercury dealerships will be one, I'd wager.


Sorry aggie i corrected my spelling and ruined your joke. That's what i get for blogging on a cellphone.

Good 1 though...
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1532. pottery
Quoting Relix:


You tell me. It's been absolute hell here in PR. Worse than previous days. Incredible thunder storms and constant pouring.

I been looking at that. Looks like heavy stuff there.
How much rain so far?
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Quoting atmoaggie:

The right scenario in Miami could equal Katrina's costs and loss of habitable housing...


A repeat of the 1926 Miami hurricane would cost closer to $180 billion USD today.
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1529. pottery
Quoting mikatnight:


Hi Aussie,
Hope all's well down under.
Yeah i imagine Pam's been distracting people since she was a teenager.

Yep. Pam distracts me too. Those elbows, man..........
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1528. Relix
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
WTH, it looks like a TS of convection is trying to develop directly over Puerto Rico! :P



You tell me. It's been absolute hell here in PR. Worse than previous days. Incredible thunder storms and constant pouring.
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Quoting weathersp:
4° Latitude Tall, 9° Longitude wide.


Yes, but that's only the main convection. Counting the outer bands, the storm is 14 degrees wide by latitude, 16 degrees by longitude.
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1525. pottery
Quoting roadrage150:


I was wondering the same thing, as the riser appears to be distorted all the way to the flange.

Yeah, strange.
They must have a good reason, it's too obvious!!
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Sorry i was watching Pamela Anderson on Ellen. back now. lol


Hi Aussie,
Hope all's well down under.
Yeah i imagine Pam's been distracting people since she was a teenager.
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Quoting pottery:

Hi. I was wondering why they did not unbolt the top completely, at the flange instead of cutting?


I was wondering the same thing, as the riser appears to be distorted all the way to the flange.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Forget Miami, if a major storm hits Haiti, New Orleans, or New York (there's a high chance that one of those will get hit), we're dealing with a catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions.

The right scenario in Miami could equal Katrina's costs and loss of habitable housing...
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1521. pottery
Quoting BahaHurican:
Whoa! Get a gander at that ITCZ transition!


Thats a big jump North, for true!
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Quoting wadedanielsmith:
Oh My God...


That storm is parked directly over a HUGE amount of 30-31C water...


That's why I said the storm could strengthen to a weak cat. 3 before hitting the Indus Delta and Gujarat.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
miami is one place i hope is not hit by a storm none not one i hope you sit there all season making a fool of yourself and not even feel a puff of wind on your face


Forget Miami, if a major storm hits Haiti, New Orleans, or New York (there's a high chance that one of those will get hit), we're dealing with a catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions.
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4° Latitude Tall, 9° Longitude wide.
Member Since: January 14, 2007 Posts: 17 Comments: 4140
Quoting weathersp:


Yeah... sheett that is big. The 1km zoom doesn't cover it and the 1km almost gets it all in, you have to back up to 2km res.



If you tried to place that...thing in the Gulf of Mexico, the one burst of solid convection would span from northwestern Cuba to Pensacola, Florida.
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Quoting mikatnight:
Evening folks,
Looks like everyone's bored outta their minds, so let's see if anyone has any predictions. No, not the number of storms, that's been and will be done to death. Let's try something different like:

How many store names do you think will be retired this year?

And,

What will be the first storm name to be retired?


Mercury dealerships will be one, I'd wager.
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1515. pottery
Quoting WatchingThisOne:
BP has been busy tonight. A while ago they were cutting off one of the old choke/kill lines. Next up cutting the other one I suppose. Clearing obstructions out of the way so they can cut the riser.

Looks like it will be tricky to get a round riser out of the cut ... it appears it will be at least slightly ovoid due to the kink extending down very close to the next major connection (flex joint). I suppose that they have planned for that.

I hope all this leads somewhere useful ... so far they have not begun cutting the riser itself, so have not yet passed the point of no return. That looks to be tonight or tomorrow if they do it. Then the containment pipe. Fingers crossed.

Hi. I was wondering why they did not unbolt the top completely, at the flange instead of cutting?
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.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Whoa! Get a gander at that ITCZ transition!



I wouldn't be surprised to see a storm hitting Costa Rica or Panama this year.
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1510. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting FIU2010:
anyways, its almost cane season, woooooooo, let's get excited, folks.
miami is one place i hope is not hit by a storm none not one i hope you sit there all season making a fool of yourself and not even feel a puff of wind on your face
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Is that REALLY a solid burst of convection 7 lat/lon degrees in diameter?!


Yeah... sheett that is big. The 1km zoom doesn't cover it and the 1km almost gets it all in, you have to back up to 2km res.

Member Since: January 14, 2007 Posts: 17 Comments: 4140
Quoting WatchingThisOne:
BP has been busy tonight. A while ago they were cutting off one of the old choke/kill lines. Next up cutting the other one I suppose. Clearing obstructions out of the way so they can cut the riser.

Looks like it will be tricky to get a round riser out of the cut ... it appears it will be at least slightly ovoid due to the kink extending down very close to the next major connection (flex joint). I suppose that they have planned for that.

I hope all this leads somewhere useful ... so far they have not begun cutting the riser itself, so have not yet passed the point of no return. That looks to be tonight or tomorrow if they do it. Then the containment pipe. Fingers crossed.


link to video: BP Live ROV Cam
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This Arabian storm is going to be sucking the heat right out of the entire Northwest Indian basin. It's sitting smack-dab in a pool of hot water of 31C+, the warmest water it's tapping into is 32C and the average SST over the burst of gigantic convection that could swamp an entire country is 30C.
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1506. Levi32
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Levi "35 knots" is a tropical storm. =P

The Joint Typhoon Warning center don't give warnings until the system is at least 35 knots in the Indian Ocean.


Oh, my bad, thought it was still 30.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26569
Whoa! Get a gander at that ITCZ transition!

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BP has been busy tonight. A while ago they were cutting off one of the old choke/kill lines. Next up cutting the other one I suppose. Clearing obstructions out of the way so they can cut the riser.

Looks like it will be tricky to get a round riser out of the cut ... it appears it will be at least slightly ovoid due to the kink extending down very close to the next major connection (flex joint). I suppose that they have planned for that.

I hope all this leads somewhere useful ... so far they have not begun cutting the riser itself, so have not yet passed the point of no return. That looks to be tonight or tomorrow if they do it. Then the containment pipe. Fingers crossed.
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I don't know who JFV is, but I can tell you I'm not them. I have just been observing for the last few years. That's pretty much all I do. I'm in Boca Raton, FL. I really don't say much on here other than 1 or 2 comments throughout the hurricaine season.
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


I wasn't around.

My dearest apologies, my good ole bud sir!


LOL! no prob!

AstroHurricane on post #1495 said... mean on the 1985-2005 map. Extratropical storms sometimes do make it to Northern Europe at hurricane strength.

Oh, I thought you were refering to something else. Yes, Post-Tropical or extra-tropical do make it to france.
Member Since: January 14, 2007 Posts: 17 Comments: 4140
WTH, it looks like a TS of convection is trying to develop directly over Puerto Rico! :P

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Quoting Levi32:


It's now a TD...likely to steadily strengthen as it heads towards India.



Is that REALLY a solid burst of convection 7 lat/lon degrees in diameter?!
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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.