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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850. IKE
SYNOPSIS FOR CARIBBEAN SEA AND TROPICAL N ATLC FROM 07N TO 22N
BETWEEN 55W AND 65W
530 PM EDT MON MAY 31 2010

.SYNOPSIS...ELONGATED LOW PRES TROUGH ACROSS THE FAR W CARIB JUST
OFF THE E COAST OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA AND BELIZE...ASSOCIATED
WITH THE MIDDLE LEVEL REMNANTS OF AGATHA...WILL DRIFT N THROUGH TUE
NIGHT...THEN TURN NW WED AND MOVE INLAND ACROSS THE YUCATAN AND
DISSIPATE WED NIGHT. ELY TRADES WILL RETURN TUE THROUGH FRI AND
STRENGTHEN SOME AS ATLC RIDGE REBUILDS N OF AREA.
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Keeper, does that mean that we are looking at it trying to refire or just remain normal?
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yep,gfs,456
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847. xcool
yeah weather AVN IS GFS
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I'll bet it'll form a new Surface low from the mlc which has drifted NNE from the old surface low???
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Quoting stillwaiting:
456:


That is a reliable tool to use to forecast shear. I use, if I'm not mistake AVN is the GFS?
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting plywoodstatenative:
Weather, the question I have if two models are looking at a system coming out of the southwestern caribbean could that be one of the formerly mentioned CV waves that continue to be embedded?


Correct. There is a large tropical wave nearing 70W. These tropical waves just keeps piling up energy in the SW Caribbean and then when conditions are prime, genesis occurs. Its like a 100% of the times that genesis in the W Caribbean in June occurs from tropical waves. But because there is no such thing as a 100% is met...99.99999% lol :)
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076


new convection building s of previous
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54489
842. IKE
Looks like the east-PAC gets an increase in moisture this week...and coming off Africa...


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Quoting Weather456:


This is what I said:

Also wouldn't keep my eyes off the SW Caribbean.

In other words

I would not keep my eyes off the SW Caribbean.



What he means is he agrees with the models that keep hinting at the sw caribbean. Its one of the main areas we look at during the start of the season, so I can agree with him as well.
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just stating my point of view,u base your position on facts,which I'm trying to learn to do,in other words I'm sure your correct in your analysis:)
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839. DEKRE
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
In case anybody missed this from earlier, the Arctic sea ice extent is now lower than 2007 and I expect that it will reach a new record minimum this year.



Current sea ice extent:



You can see melt ponds already opening up north of Alaska, and west of Victoria Island and Banks Island. In fact that area is expected to be warmer and drier than normal this summer, speeding up the melting. I expect that this and the area near the East Siberian shelf will melt, opening up both the Northwest and Northeast passages simultaneously and spurring a massive release of methane clathrates.

As a reminder, here's what the Arctic looked like in September 2007:



What is known about the thickness?
Member Since: April 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 306
456 if thats the SST's then what are we looking at for formation possibilities with the sw caribbean?
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Quoting Ocean24:


I see. You ''wouldn't'' monitor the SW Carib? How come?


This is what I said:

Also wouldn't keep my eyes off the SW Caribbean.

In other words

I would not keep my eyes off the SW Caribbean.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
456:
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Quoting stillwaiting:




the actual convective cloud cover looks like 1 to me!!..and the image you posted is a bit older than the one i posted from psu's ewall


lol, ok your call....
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Weather, the question I have if two models are looking at a system coming out of the southwestern caribbean could that be one of the formerly mentioned CV waves that continue to be embedded?
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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In case anybody missed this from earlier, the Arctic sea ice extent is now lower than 2007 and I expect that it will reach a new record minimum this year.



Current sea ice extent:



You can see melt ponds already opening up north of Alaska, and west of Victoria Island and Banks Island. In fact that area is expected to be warmer and drier than normal this summer, speeding up the melting. I expect that this and the area near the East Siberian shelf will melt, opening up both the Northwest and Northeast passages simultaneously and spurring a massive release of methane clathrates.

As a reminder, here's what the Arctic looked like in September 2007:

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Quoting Weather456:


Which of the templates on the left describe the current shape of the system's cloud cover...1, 2, or 3?





the actual convective cloud cover looks like 1 to me!!..and the image you posted is a bit older than the one i posted from psu's ewall
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by the way I heard earler that the NOGAPS was predicting a system to come out of the SW Caribbean in the next couple of days well now it has it's model support the NAM 18Z
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12165
The easiest way to picture a "coupled" system versus one that is "decoupled" is to visualise the internal wind structure as being similar to a tornado on land. The circulation rises from the sea all the way up to the top of the system which, in very intense cyclones, can reach over 50,000 feet.

Some circulations, in particular in sheared systems, can be "tilted" much like a tornado that is angled from land to sky ( instead of straight up and down vertically ) but still consists of one funnel and thus still considered "coupled". The opening at the top may be half a mile removed from where the vortex touches the ground or sea in the case of a cyclone.

If one were to decouple a tornado it would be the equivalent of cutting the circulation in half horizontally and having the bottom half go off in one direction and the top half in another. That is what happens to a tropical cyclone when it is said to "decouple".

Whether such a description is appropriate to a fledgling low like the " Belize Blob " is open to question as there is no conclusive evidence to say that we even have a closed low there.

What I am seeing is a shortlived surface low that will likely not last much longer once it tries to exit the Yucatan channel.
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convection is on the NE of the circulation..


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Tampa, you have to admit that the two of them if you minus out the shear/dry air that was influencing the death of them, that without that both would have been impressive in their own rights. The other factor you have to count in is the no name blob that came out as well along the Yucatan a couple of weeks back, that in its own right was impressive.

Pottery, now you have to ask as well is this how the season is going to go until we get a point in which the dry air and shear are not an influence, what then will happen.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
I see 456,what about the noaa's gfs sheer favorability maps,are those worth considering??


Which maps, you have a link?
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting TampaSpin:

MAYBE SOME EGOS TOO....LOL


Let go of my EGO!
Member Since: August 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
Quoting Ocean24:
Hey 456, what else is out there, now that Ags is ''LONG'' gone?


Nothing I see in the near future. I was looking at the African coast earlier and notice the waves are now coming off north of 10N. Also wouldn't keep my eyes off the SW Caribbean.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting pottery:
Is it that the 2 systems that we have looked at this past 2 weeks, are more complex than the norm? Or is it that there are several more people on the blog whose Observational and Analytical skills are so much more improved than last season that we are 'seeing" things that we did not in the past.

I find that this level of discussion and debate, along with the presentation of differing views is most refreshing, educational, and entertaining.

Thank you all.

Keep Going.......

MAYBE SOME EGOS TOO....LOL
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I see 456,what about the noaa's gfs sheer favorability maps,are those worth considering??
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who stretched out the blog?
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54489
Tropical Depression in the Arabian Sea:



This thing is HUGE. It spans 14 degrees in diameter (lat x lon). It's expected to make landfall near Karachi...a large populated area on the Indus Delta would be flooded by a 2-meter surge east of the city.

A potential recipe for disaster.
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Quoting Weather456:


I am the wrong person to ask when it comes to that oil spill. However, i can tell you my aspect of it in regards to ex-Agatha. A surface trof over the GOM would likely change wind direction depending on where it is located. However, what I think the NOAA is alluding to is a chart I posted a few days showing a ridge pushing into the Caribbean causing pronounce return flow over the GOM.



Thanks, I knew it was only a matter of time before we got it here in AL.
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I came across the image...has nothing to do with ex-Agatha but thought I post it anyways...

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting scott39:
"Model results indicate that oil may move N to threaten the barrier islands off Miss. and AL. later in the forecast period", NOAA said in its 72-hour prediction on the expected trajectory of the huge oil slick. I wunder if this has anything to do with Ex-Agatha path?


I am the wrong person to ask when it comes to that oil spill. However, i can tell you my aspect of it in regards to ex-Agatha. A surface trof over the GOM would likely change wind direction depending on where it is located. However, what I think the NOAA is alluding to is a chart I posted a few days showing a ridge pushing into the Caribbean causing pronounce return flow over the GOM.



Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Is it that the 2 systems that we have looked at this past 2 weeks, are more complex than the norm? Or is it that there are several more people on the blog whose Observational and Analytical skills are so much more improved than last season that we are 'seeing" things that we did not in the past.

I find that this level of discussion and debate, along with the presentation of differing views is most refreshing, educational, and entertaining.

Thank you all.

Keep Going.......
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Quoting AllStar17:
7 hours, 17 minutes to go until the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins.

Doesn't it start at 0 UTC?

I know, its a technicality, don't weenie me for it.

Its more of a question of this: doesn't all NOAA's schedule and observations and forecasts run on UTC unless otherwise specifically stated?
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811. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number TWO
DEPRESSION ARB02-2010
17:30 PM IST May 31 2010
=======================================

At 12:00 PM UTC, Depression ARB02-2010 over east central and adjoining west central Arabian Sea moved northwestwards and lays centered at 15.5N 63.5E, or about 1050 kms southwest of Mumbai, 1050 kms south southwest of Naliya (Gujarat), and 1120 kms south southwest of Karachi, Pakistan.

3 minute sustaied winds near the center is 25 knots with a central pressure of 1001 hPa. The state of the sea is rough to very rough around the system's center.

Satellite imagery indicates gradual organization of convection during past 12 hours. The Dvorak intensity is T1.5. Associated broken intense to very intense convection observed over the area between 10N to 18.0N and 57.0E to 67.0E. The lowest cloud top temperature due to convection is around -75C in association with the system.

Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is low to moderate (10-20 kts). The system lies to the south of tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 17.0N. Sea surface temperature is also favorable for intensification as sea temperature is 30-32C over the region. THe depth of 26C southern is more than 100 meters over the region. The ocean hear content as a result is more than 100 kj/cm2 over the region. The relative vorticity at 850 HPA level and upper level divergence are also favorable for intensification, as the have increased during past 12 hours. There is an upper air anti-cyclonic circulation to the north of the system, which is helping provide the upper level divergence and poleward outflow.

The MJO is expected to be in Indian Ocean during this week, but with lower amplitude according to both statistical and dynamical forecasts. It is favorable for intensification of this system.

Though the system would move northwest initially, the recurvature is expected after 48 hours under the influence of the approaching trough in mid latitude westerlies at 500 HPA level.

Considering all the above and numerical weather prediction model guidance, the system is likely to intensify into a cyclone gradually and move initially northwesterly during next 48 hours and then recurve northeastward towards Gujarat and adjoining Pakistan coast.
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Quoting kuppenskup:
Upper Level Winds are doing to this system what OJ did to Nicole!


LOL!
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Upper Level Winds are doing to this system what OJ did to Nicole!
Member Since: August 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
Quoting Weather456:


a coupled system is one where either the convection or circulations aloft are aligned with the surface circulation.

Decoupling is the exact opposite, neither the convective column nor circulations aloft are aligned with the surface low.

Here is Chris decoupling:

Quoting leo305:


mid level low moves away from the surface low taking the convection with it
thanks
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Quoting Weather456:


I assumed that you use the CIMSS site to get the shear well that is where you will fault. The CIMSS uses computer algorithms along with model data and satellite data to calculate wind shear. The best shear maps are actual satellite imagery loops. They tell you 10 knots, but doesn't seem 10 knots on satellite loops. Reason the logic of data presented to you.


AMENNNNNNNNNNN!!!
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456 will you answer post 797 please?
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Quoting cyclonekid:
I've heard this often. What does it mean?


When the convection gets sheared away from the COC (center of circulation).
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Quoting AllStar17:
7 hours, 17 minutes to go until the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins.


.. and we're in for a lonnggg hurricane season if all the cards play out as predicted.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
10kts of sheer is decoupling this???I think the current center is very near 19.5N,89W...


I assumed that you use the CIMSS site to get the shear well that is where you will fault. The CIMSS uses computer algorithms along with model data and satellite data to calculate wind shear. The best shear maps are actual satellite imagery loops. They tell you 10 knots, but doesn't seem 10 knots on satellite loops. Reason the logic of data presented to you.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting stillwaiting:
10kts of sheer is decoupling this???I think the current center is very near 19.5N,89W...


You can clearly see that upper level winds are beginning to effect the disturbance. Notice how the clouds associated with the convective burst are getting smudged to the right.
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7 hours, 17 minutes to go until the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins.
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Quoting Weather456:


Which of the templates on the left describe the current shape of the system's cloud cover...1, 2, or 3?



"You think you're smart don't you 456."



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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.