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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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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10kts of sheer is decoupling this???I think the current center is very near 19.5N,89W...
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Quoting cyclonekid:
I've heard this often. What does it mean?


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:

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"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?
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Quoting stillwaiting:
456:in the newest pics it does not look ragged,its a newly closed off surface low and is still in the early organization stage????


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

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levi:I'll make sure I have plenty TP in my hurricane supplies;)
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Quoting Weather456:
Decoupling



Yep, you beat me to it.
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Quoting cyclonekid:
I've heard this often. What does it mean?


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



NHC says the center is near 19N 87W
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Quoting Weather456:
Decoupling

I've heard this often. What does it mean?
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Quoting stillwaiting:
explosive convection at this time:


That's nothing. Your going to crap in your pants later this season when we get something like this later this season.

Photobucket
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Quoting aspectre:
GobiDesert sandstorm hitting Golmud,Qinghai,China


Wow, imagine staring into that?
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Decoupling

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456:in the newest pics it does not look ragged,its a newly closed off surface low and is still in the early organization stage????
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GobiDesert sandstorm hitting Golmud,Qinghai,China
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I don't think the center is under that convection.. which I believe is moving away from the core
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explosive convection at this time:
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Quoting stillwaiting:
91L coming soon latest pic shows anti cyclonic feature over a new explosion of convection near the center....its trying to further consolidate,IMO and might have the winds of a TD,w/know theirs a closed warm core surface low,its just a matter of hour before we have 91L and then just hrs later td1,and thats if they don't just skip the invest status and name it a TD off the bat,just my 2 cents:)


Sorry but you have to clarify somethings..the max winds associated with this system is 15 knots based on surface obs and ascat.

Second, the once circular blob of convection is ragged. Whenever a blob of convection is ragged it means external forces are at work and in this case dry air and upper winds.
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and there are hot towers in the center of the convection!!
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Quoting scott39:
What time period in the day does convection wane, and what time period does it explode?


it tends to wane during the afternoon.. then around 7 or 8 it tends to go boom
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It explodes during the evening and it wanes during the day over the ocean. Diurnal cycles.
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91L coming soon latest pic shows anti cyclonic feature over a new explosion of convection near the center....its trying to further consolidate,IMO and might have the winds of a TD,w/know theirs a closed warm core surface low,its just a matter of hour before we have 91L and then just hrs later td1,and thats if they don't just skip the invest status and name it a TD off the bat,just my 2 cents:)
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Quoting Ocean24:


you have acess to it, soo soon?


Its only the 12z GFS
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What time period in the day does convection wane, and what time period does it explode?
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Quoting extreme236:
12Z GFS still forming another EPAC storm in 96-120 hours. And still no Atlantic threats in the next 120 hours on it.


you have acess to it, soo soon?
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12Z GFS still forming another EPAC storm in 96-120 hours. And still no Atlantic threats in the next 120 hours on it.
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Quoting leo305:
unless it decides to just explode at sun down..
Who knows, I can see that happening, this hasnt been the most predictable storm!
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little bit old but not bad looking precip
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Regardless the remains are still an interesting system. I would think it will track a tad N and W of the GFS.
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those cloudtops are still pretty high
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Upper level westerlies are beginning to effect the cloud pattern of Agatha's remnants.
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unless it decides to just explode at sun down..
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I don't, coordinates please.


me either not exposed just yet
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Quoting ElConando:
People are already so desperate for something to happen. I'd be surprised to see more than 2 storms in June. This season won't prob get going until the latter half of July as it normally does. And continues until the mid Sept peak.


I agree. I don't think the season will kick off until the second half of June. IMO we will see a named storm around the 15th, and then a second in the 25th-30th time period. That's just all 100% uneducated guessing though. :P
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NO 91L THIS TIME
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Quoting extreme236:
The IMD has upgraded 94A to a depression.


94AINVEST.35kts-996mb

With this winds and preassure must be TD.
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Quoting leo305:
87.4W 18.8N
About 700 miles due S of me! What do you think it will be when it gets here? LOL
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People are already so desperate for something to happen. I'd be surprised to see more than 2 storms in June. This season won't prob get going until the latter half of July as it normally does. And continues until the mid Sept peak.
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87.4W 18.8N
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Quoting bappit:


Ummmm, they try to be objective. Some people on the blog always know better than they do it seems.


Designation of invests is defined by the AOML as subjective.

"Oftentimes, hurricane specialists become curious about disturbances in the tropics long before they form into tropical depressions and are given a tropical cyclone number. In order to alert forecasting centers that they are investigating such a disturbance and that they wish to have it tracked by the various forecast models, the specialist will attach a 9-series number to it. The first such disturbance of the year will be designated 90, the next 91, and so on until 99. After that, they restart the sequence with 90 again. The purpose of these numbers is to clarify which disturbance they are tracking as there are often more than one happening at the same time.
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Agatha now the 7th deadliest hurricane in the eastern Pacific ever, and is just 4 away from the 6th spot. Current fatality count at 131. My prayer is out for those people.
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Ex-Agatha looks like an egg in a frying pan.
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The IMD has upgraded 94A to a depression.
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ex-agatha getting whacked now

oh well lol
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Quoting WAHA:

Oh now I see it...
I don't, coordinates please.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
753. kingy
the BP oilcam shot of the riser was remarkable in the flow rate it showed. BP have decided to showing us dross now though. Guess it must be pretty hard showing your own failure in such a graphic way
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Quoting Weather456:
Basically invest classification is subjective. TD/TS/H classification is objective.


Ummmm, they try to be objective. Some people on the blog always know better than they do it seems.
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751. WAHA
Quoting leo305:
center is becoming exposed.. the convection is moving away from the system

Oh now I see it...
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NHC probably is not calling it an invest because according to most of the knowledgable people on this site that it will be no more than a thunderstorm for FL.
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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.