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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1048. kuppenskup
10:53 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting xcool:
Agatha aka old lady not dead


It aint over til Fat Agatha Moans!
Member Since: August 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
1047. xcool
10:52 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Agatha aka old lady not dead
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1046. MrstormX
10:51 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
From CBS 4


"In case you missed it, the first storm of the Pacific hurricane season formed over the weekend. Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall in Guatemala. It quickly weakened to an area of low pressure. That remnant low has now reemerged in the Caribbean off the coast of Belize.

CBS4 Chief Meteorologist David Bernard says it could be reforming into a depression or tropical storm. If that happens, it would assume the Atlantic storm name of Alex.

Conditions are somewhat favorable for development in the Caribbean, so he thinks this is possible. We saw the same thing happen in 2008 when Arthur formed near Belize from a former Pacific storm.

Bernard says the Hurricane Center is indicating pressures are up so that would not indicate any immediate development.

The area of low pressure may track in our general direction by Tuesday and Wednesday. Even if the low does not develop further, there could be an increased chance of storms and heavy rain for late Tuesday and into the middle of the week."
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1045. Hurricanes101
10:51 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
So much for anything coming out of ex-Agatha

talk about anti-climatic lmao
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7831
1044. kuppenskup
10:50 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting StormW:
Evening all! On for a short before dinner.


HOW ARE YOU?
Member Since: August 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
1043. plywoodstatenative
10:49 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting Dakster:


Yeah.. I can't post what came back when I tried...

The Germansite with the link was great, showed some side shots of the hole... Now looks more real and not photoshopped.



http://www.leaderpost.com/news/Gallery Guatemala sinkhole caused tropical storm Agatha/3094112/story.html
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
1041. Dakster
10:49 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting MyrtleCanes:


jesus, does that go to China!?


It would be nice if it went to the BP open well in the GOM though... Might be able to stop the gusher...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10545
1040. 92Andrew
10:49 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Convection surrounding Ex-Agatha is diminishing. If the storm doesnt take advantage from diurnal growth this evening then it will be kaput.
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1039. Levi32
10:48 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Arctic mean temperature dipping below normal already:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
1038. MyrtleCanes
10:47 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting Weather456:
My God



jesus, does that go to China!?
Member Since: May 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 103
1037. sirmaelstrom
10:47 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Well I didn't find any new stories on a search of "Huge German Hole" but I would suggest putting on your safe search should any of you also try it.


LOL! That may be the funniest thing I've ever seen you post!
Member Since: February 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 580
1036. Dakster
10:46 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Well I didn't find any new NEWS stories (or general internet) on a search of "Huge German Hole" but I would suggest putting on your safe search should any of you also try it.


Yeah.. I can't post what came back when I tried...

The Germansite with the link was great, showed some side shots of the hole... Now looks more real and not photoshopped.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10545
1034. MrstormX
10:46 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Is the remnant circulation of Agatha at 17.2N 86.2W
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1031. Dakster
10:45 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
StormW - Join the welcome to Hurricane Season 2010 Party..

What's your take, does the season start in 15 minutes (GMT / UTC) or 5 hours and 15 minutes (EDT)?
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10545
1030. plywoodstatenative
10:45 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Any chance this is related to what happened with the sinkhole?

Saturday 29th May 2010
Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala
Pacaya volcano, Guatemala erupted yesterday. Strombolian eruptions occurred at the summit. Guatemala's President declared a state of "calamity" in two provinces and opened emergency shelters to accommodate over 1,700 residents who were evacuated. More than 65 people were injured, a television reporter killed, some people are missing, and hundreds of houses damaged by the eruption which sent stones and ash over a wide area. The international airport at Guatemala City was to remain closed for 20 hours. The runway was covered by 2.5 cm of volcanic ash.
More on Pacaya volcano...
Volcanoes of Guatemala...
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
1029. MrstormX
10:45 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Deadliest Pacific Hurricanes
Rank Hurricane Season Fatalities
1 | "Mexico" | 1959 | 1,800+
2 | Paul | 1982 | 1,424
3 | Liza | 1976 | 630–990
4 | Tara | 1961 | 436–500
5 | Pauline | 1997 | 230–400
6 | Agatha | 2010 | 146
7 | Tico | 1983 | 135
8 | Ismael | 1995 | 116
9 | "Mazatlán"| 1943 | 100
10 | Lidia | 1981 | 100


That will probably be changing soon.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1028. beell
10:45 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
May 31st, 2010 Guatemala Sinkhole
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 144 Comments: 16768
1027. Seastep
10:45 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
I think less ice in the arctic is a good thing.
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
1024. MiamiHurricanes09
10:42 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Deadliest Pacific Hurricanes
Rank Hurricane Season Fatalities
1 | "Mexico" | 1959 | 1,800+
2 | Paul | 1982 | 1,424
3 | Liza | 1976 | 630–990
4 | Tara | 1961 | 436–500
5 | Pauline | 1997 | 230–400
6 | Agatha | 2010 | 146
7 | Tico | 1983 | 135
8 | Ismael | 1995 | 116
9 | "Mazatlán"| 1943 | 100
10 | Lidia | 1981 | 100
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1021. DEKRE
10:41 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting Dakster:


Link? Site name?


Link

From comment 986
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1020. xcool
10:41 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
hey
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1019. sirmaelstrom
10:41 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
№ 1014

You seem to accept the PIOMAS model graph of ice volume pretty easily.
Member Since: February 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 580
1018. Levi32
10:40 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting JFLORIDA:


Thats a model we have satellites to measure it.


Lol so NOW you want to acknowledge satellite data? Instead of models?

Anyway....you're wrong. The model is initialized by satellite data....obviously. What else would you initialize it from.

The Polar Ice Prediction System (PIPS 2.0) is the operational model run by the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO) for sea ice forecasting. The PIPS 2.0 coupled ice-ocean model forecasts ice conditions from the North Pole south to 30°N latitude. The PIPS 2.0 makes a 120-hour forecast each day of ice displacement, ice thickness, and ice concentration. Ice concentration data from the Special Sensor Microwave Image (SSM/I) is used to initialize the system's forecast.

Link
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
1017. plywoodstatenative
10:39 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Okay, if someone can figure out when this hole opened up in Guatemala, then is there a chance of looking into seismic activity in the area that might of lead to the size and depth of this hole?
Member Since: November 15, 2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
1016. sirmaelstrom
10:39 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Even the PIOMAS model seems to acknowledge some cyclical nature to arctic ice volume:

From here.

If PIOMAS's estimate for 1948 is accurate, I wonder what the ice volume for the 1935-1945 time period was.
Member Since: February 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 580
1013. Dakster
10:37 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting DEKRE:


Have a look at the different pictures on the german site - comment 986


Link? Site name?
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10545
1012. winter123
10:37 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
AAAH! Back from vacation and I completely missed the first WHEM storm of the season! What are the chances of reformation? (Anyone can answer, opinion or based on facts)

To me, looks like ok satellite presentation but pretty poor conditions right now.
Member Since: July 29, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 1799
1011. Levi32
10:36 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting JFLORIDA:


Volume or surface ice there levi - you think wouldnt catch that.


If you want volume let's talk about the arctic...



The volume line is calculated from PIPS
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
1010. OracleDeAtlantis
10:36 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
NOAA's released temperature forecast for the next 3 months, show a persistent trough in the heartland. If correct, and the number of storms is correct, then this type of setup will open up the East Coast and eastern Gulf of Mexico to waves of hurricanes.

[/CENTER]
Member Since: August 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 525
1008. Seastep
10:35 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Holy crap! I think it is real.

Must be caverns underneath.

Can't imagine living atop that.
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
1007. MrstormX
10:35 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting plywoodstatenative:


When was the last time that we ever had this much damage and death from a tropical storm? I wonder if after the season is over, that she will be not on upgraded but retired. My god is all I have to say about that sink hole.


Sadly many times tropical storms strike these poorer countires causing great death and despair, but are not retired. Hannah of 2008 comes to mind, and that storm even became a hurricane!
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1006. Cavin Rawlins
10:34 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Vertical shear remains rather scant south of 20N for this time of year.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1004. DEKRE
10:32 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting Seastep:


I agree, that is crazy. Sorry, but I'm having trouble buying that.


Have a look at the different pictures on the german site - comment 986
Member Since: April 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 306
1003. MiamiHurricanes09
10:32 PM GMT on May 31, 2010
Quoting CycloneOz:


Looks photoshopped...but if it's really...dang!
It's real. A reporter on one of the spanish stations here in Miami showed us photos that she took. It's 100% genuine.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1000. Seastep
Quoting JFLORIDA:


Youre kidding thats real?!?


I agree, that is crazy. Sorry, but I'm having trouble buying that.
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414

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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.