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

Join the "Hurricane Haven" with Dr. Jeff Masters: a new Internet radio show
Tomorrow, I'll be experimenting with a live 1-hour Internet radio show called "Hurricane Haven." The show will be aired at 4pm EDT on Tuesdays, with the first show June 1. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. Some topics I'll cover on the first show:

1) What's going on in the tropics right now
2) Preview of the coming hurricane season
3) How a hurricane might affect the oil spill
4) How the oil spill might affect a hurricane
5) New advancements in hurricane science presented at this month's AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology
6) Haiti's vulnerability to a hurricane this season

I hope you can tune in to the broadcast, which will be at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. If not, the show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

I'll be back Tuesday with my first outlook for hurricane season.

Jeff Masters

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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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Quoting mikatnight:
Howdy Everone,



And in case anyone was wondering,

From the NOAA site:
"...if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it."

BTW, my compliments to Weather456 for doing an outstanding job on the blog. He has truely raised it to a new
level.


Thank you,

Be back later....
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center is becoming exposed.. the convection is moving away from the system
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Excerpts from the Marine Weather Discussion


BY LATE WED AND INTO FRI...MODELS PRETTY MUCH AGREE THAT THE RIDGE
WEAKENS WHILE SHIFTING SLIGHTLY SE AS A TROUGH CURRENTLY OVER
THE NW CARIBBEAN...WHICH IS FROM THE REMNANTS OF A RECENT
EASTERN PACIFIC CYCLONE SLOWLY MOVES NW ACROSS THE NORTHERN YUCATAN
PENINSULA AND INTO THE S CENTRAL GULF TUE AND WED. MODELS PRETTY
MUCH AGREE ON THIS SCENARIO...WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CANADIAN
WHICH DEVELOPS ANOTHER LOW IN THE NW CARIBBEAN SEA AND TRACKS IT NE
ACROSS THE EASTERN GULF WED AND THU. WILL DISCOUNT THIS SOLN...AS
FOR NOW THE BEST APPROACH FOR THIS POSSIBLE SITUATION AS IT RELATES
TO THIS FORECAST IS TO FORECAST A TROUGH FOR FOR DAYS 3-5 INCREASING
THE WINDS SLIGHTLY IN THE SOUTHERN WATERS OF THE MIDDLE AND EASTERN
GULF INCLUDING YUCATAN CHANNEL AND VICINITY OF YUCATAN PENINSULA WED
INTO THU BEFORE DAMPENING OUT AS IT GETS FURTHER W.


A 1010 MB LOW WAS ANALYZED NEAR 18N86W WITH A TROUGH SW TO NW
HONDURAS. AS MENTIONED UNDER THE GULF OF MEXICO SECTION...THIS
FEATURE IS THE REMNANTS FROM WHAT WAS JUST RECENTLY AN EASTERN
PACIFIC TROPICAL CYCLONE. SATELLITE IMAGERY FROM THIS AFTERNOON
SHOWS A SYMMETRICAL CLUSTER OF TSTMS WITH THE LOW. A PARTIAL
ASCAT PASS FROM THIS MORNING REVEALED NE-E 15 KT WITHIN 60 NM
N OF THE LOW. THIS FEATURE WILL SLOWLY MOVE N AND NW ACROSS THE
YUCATAN PENINSULA OVER THE NEXT 36-48 HOURS. HOWEVER...THERE IS
THE POSSIBILITY THE FORECAST TRACK MAY BECOME UNCERTAIN LATTER
IN THE PERIOD
BUT SHOULD BE N OR NW OF THE CARIBBEAN SEA.


north seems more like it.
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Excerpts from the Marine Weather Discussion


BY LATE WED AND INTO FRI...MODELS PRETTY MUCH AGREE THAT THE RIDGE
WEAKENS WHILE SHIFTING SLIGHTLY SE AS A TROUGH CURRENTLY OVER
THE NW CARIBBEAN...WHICH IS FROM THE REMNANTS OF A RECENT
EASTERN PACIFIC CYCLONE SLOWLY MOVES NW ACROSS THE NORTHERN YUCATAN
PENINSULA AND INTO THE S CENTRAL GULF TUE AND WED. MODELS PRETTY
MUCH AGREE ON THIS SCENARIO...WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CANADIAN
WHICH DEVELOPS ANOTHER LOW IN THE NW CARIBBEAN SEA AND TRACKS IT NE
ACROSS THE EASTERN GULF WED AND THU. WILL DISCOUNT THIS SOLN...AS
FOR NOW THE BEST APPROACH FOR THIS POSSIBLE SITUATION AS IT RELATES
TO THIS FORECAST IS TO FORECAST A TROUGH FOR FOR DAYS 3-5 INCREASING
THE WINDS SLIGHTLY IN THE SOUTHERN WATERS OF THE MIDDLE AND EASTERN
GULF INCLUDING YUCATAN CHANNEL AND VICINITY OF YUCATAN PENINSULA WED
INTO THU BEFORE DAMPENING OUT AS IT GETS FURTHER W.


A 1010 MB LOW WAS ANALYZED NEAR 18N86W WITH A TROUGH SW TO NW
HONDURAS. AS MENTIONED UNDER THE GULF OF MEXICO SECTION...THIS
FEATURE IS THE REMNANTS FROM WHAT WAS JUST RECENTLY AN EASTERN
PACIFIC TROPICAL CYCLONE. SATELLITE IMAGERY FROM THIS AFTERNOON
SHOWS A SYMMETRICAL CLUSTER OF TSTMS WITH THE LOW. A PARTIAL
ASCAT PASS FROM THIS MORNING REVEALED NE-E 15 KT WITHIN 60 NM
N OF THE LOW. THIS FEATURE WILL SLOWLY MOVE N AND NW ACROSS THE
YUCATAN PENINSULA OVER THE NEXT 36-48 HOURS. HOWEVER...THERE IS
THE POSSIBILITY THE FORECAST TRACK MAY BECOME UNCERTAIN LATTER
IN THE PERIOD BUT SHOULD BE N OR NW OF THE CARIBBEAN SEA.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Howdy Everone,

Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I dunno. Hurricane Ismael, the 7th deadliest storm in the East Pacific, killed 116 people (2 more than Agatha), and got retired. Might've been because of more structural damage though.


And in case anyone was wondering,

From the NOAA site:
"...if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it."

BTW, my compliments to Weather456 for doing an outstanding job on the blog. He has truely raised it to a new level.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
742. WAHA
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
why cause you ain't the centre of attention

He kinda is. He sends an array of very useful photos. Do not underestimate him.

UPDATE: No wait, that's you...
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Quoting Tazmanian:
NO TD TONIGHT ALL



MAY BE SOME TIME NEXT WEEK BUT NOT TONIGHT
and because you said that watch something form
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52343
GMZ089-312130-
SYNOPSIS FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO
1030 AM CDT MON MAY 31 2010

.SYNOPSIS...WEAK HIGH PRES RIDGE EXTENDING WESTWARD FROM THE ATLC
INTO THE NORTHERN GULF E OF 90W WILL MAINTAIN LIGHT TO MODERATE
WINDS THROUGH TUE BEFORE SOUTHERLY RETURN FLOW INCREASES TUE
NIGHT AND WED OVER THE WESTERN GULF IN RESPONSE TO DEEPENING LOW
PRES OVER THE CENTRAL PLAINS. WEAK LOW PRES WITH AN ASSOCIATED
TROUGH CURRENTY IN THE NW CARIBBEAN JUST E OF BELIZE IS EXPECTED TO
DRIFT N INTO THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE MIDDLE GULF TUE AFTERNOON
INTO WED...THEN INTO THE EASTERN PORTION OF THE SW GULF LATE WED
INTO THU.

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
235 PM EDT MON MAY 31 2010

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA AND
SOUTHWEST NORTH ATLC S OF 31N W OF 55W

GULF OF MEXICO...
WEAK RIDGE ALONG 27N AND E OF 90W WILL MAINTAIN LIGHT WINDS IN
THE RANGE OF 5-10 KT JUST ABOUT THE ENTIRE AREA THROUGH TUE. LATEST
OBSERVATIONS FROM AROUND THE AREA SHOWED WINDS FROM MAINLY A SE-S
DIRECTION...EXCEPT E-SE IN THE SW ZONE. LATEST SEASTATE ANALYSIS
REVEALED SEAS OF 1-2 FT THROUGHOUT WITH A VERY SMALL POCKET OF 3
FOOT SEAS ALONG 24N AND W OF 87W. WITH DEEPENING LOW PRES OVER THE
CENTRAL PLAINS...WINDS WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE TO SE-S 10-15.

BY LATE WED AND INTO FRI...MODELS PRETTY MUCH AGREE THAT THE RIDGE
WEAKENS WHILE SHIFTING SLIGHTLY SE AS A TROUGH CURRENTLY OVER
THE NW CARIBBEAN...WHICH IS FROM THE REMNANTS OF A RECENT
EASTERN PACIFIC CYCLONE SLOWLY MOVES NW ACROSS THE NORTHERN YUCATAN
PENINSULA AND INTO THE S CENTRAL GULF TUE AND WED. MODELS PRETTY
MUCH AGREE ON THIS SCENARIO...WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CANADIAN
WHICH DEVELOPS ANOTHER LOW IN THE NW CARIBBEAN SEA AND TRACKS IT NE
ACROSS THE EASTERN GULF WED AND THU. WILL DISCOUNT THIS SOLN...AS
FOR NOW THE BEST APPROACH FOR THIS POSSIBLE SITUATION AS IT RELATES
TO THIS FORECAST IS TO FORECAST A TROUGH FOR FOR DAYS 3-5 INCREASING
THE WINDS SLIGHTLY IN THE SOUTHERN WATERS OF THE MIDDLE AND EASTERN
GULF INCLUDING YUCATAN CHANNEL AND VICINITY OF YUCATAN PENINSULA WED
INTO THU BEFORE DAMPENING OUT AS IT GETS FURTHER W.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting weather42009:


This blog has 10 times more nonsense on it since it first formed in April 2005.
why cause you ain't the centre of attention
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52343
Quoting weather42009:


This blog has 10 times more nonsense on it since it first formed in April 2005.
Should have seen it yesterday when jfv was here.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19601
NO TD TONIGHT ALL



MAY BE SOME TIME NEXT WEEK BUT NOT TONIGHT
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114071
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52343
Quoting weather42009:


This blog has 10 times more nonsense on it since it first formed in April 2005.




noteded



hi all
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114071
Quoting extreme236:
718.

Were not going to have a TD by tonight. There is not enough convective organization to be one.


This blog has 10 times more nonsense on it since it first formed in April 2005.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
> It seems like its still decoupled.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19601
718.

Were not going to have a TD by tonight. There is not enough convective organization to be one.
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Basically invest classification is subjective. TD/TS/H classification is objective.
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**REPOST**
INVEST 94A
**IMAGES MADE BY CYCLONEKID**


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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


The only requirement for invests is the forecaster/NHC want additional data (NRL, CIMSS, or cyclone specific models) on a system.

As far as a special TWO its the judgement of the forecaster weather a cyclone will form in the next 48 hours.
and if i was a forecaster 12 hrs would be a rule i would follow
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52343
"Naahh. Post those frosty nugs...It is a holiday..."

lol, nah. no ganja photos here... doesn't seem like the appropriate environment. i'll just stick to pics of me and my axe.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL, be back later.

...I didn't think it funny, their offer stunk. Had another at a NASA facility for ~80% more pay in an area with half the cost-of-living (was married with kid, these things cost money!). Not a hard decision.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
456;isn't their a shortwave coming off the SETX coastline today???when that weakness moves over mid central gulf coast area wouldn't that be a pattern simular to 07"???


Those analog diagrams are 200 mb analysis and shortwaves are analyzed best at 500 mb. The shortwave coming off Texas during the next 24 hrs has no effect on the 200 mb winds and the subtropical jet remain flat. In 2007 the shortwave was very noticeable at 200 mb as per my post at 702. Therefore the answer is to that question is no, not the same pattern.

The shortwave will help serve to pull ex-Agatha more north.
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Quoting stormhank:
Hey everyone heres a link to super typhoon lipit of 2003 weat pac season// I found its size amazing 1300 kilometers or 800 miles.. could stretch from jacksonville, fla. to houston texas!!! Hope we dont see any like that this year....Link


Awesome.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Quoting hydrus:
Naahh. Post those frosty nugs...It is a holiday...


mmmmmm, frostynugs
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting stormhank:
Hey everyone heres a link to super typhoon lipit of 2003 weat pac season// I found its size amazing 1300 kilometers or 800 miles.. could stretch from jacksonville, fla. to houston texas!!! Hope we dont see any like that this year....Link


I don't think the Atlantic has the capability to produce a storm THAT large. The West Pacific basin is so much bigger.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
718. WAHA
Why is it that whenever I'm not on this site, just got off from posting something here, is the time people respond? I had to go to "past 100" to see replies, and now I look like a total idiot!

And now I'm even a bigger idiot posting this!

But whatever, other problems (most likely my eczema) will fade it out...

Ex-Agatha looks extremely strong now! Not a cat.5 or anything, though, but I've haven't seen one in months, except in the South Atlantic, which Tropical Storm Abrew aka. Anita aka. 90SL formed. I know it when I see it (most of the time, but I'm getting better,) and that's probably to be issued by this evening as a tropical depression.

On to the Eastern Pacific, it seems like two storms are out there, if you ask me. Not expecting to develop into much...

As for in the Arabian sea, hopefully it doesn't form into anything, especially to make landfall in India, because my best friend was born there. But...[sigh...]it looks loke it will...
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First of all, the people of Haiti neglected the warnings of Hanna that was why the storm was not retired since deaths could of been avoided.

Say what? Sounds like you are saying the names committee decided: "These people got what's coming to them. Next."
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Hey everyone heres a link to super typhoon lipit of 2003 weat pac season// I found its size amazing 1300 kilometers or 800 miles.. could stretch from jacksonville, fla. to houston texas!!! Hope we dont see any like that this year....Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
456;isn't their a shortwave coming off the SETX coastline today???when that weakness moves over mid central gulf coast area wouldn't that be a pattern simular to 07"???
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Quoting atmoaggie:

You must be at AOML. Had a job offer once across the street at RSMAS. (declined...)
LOL, be back later.
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Quoting altesticstorm10:




In all seriousnes...Agatha will not be retired. Hanna was a hurricane and didn't get retired after killing over 700 people in Haiti.



First of all, the people of Haiti neglected the warnings of Hanna that was why the storm was not retired since deaths could of been avoided. Also the case with Gordon 1994.

Second, Guatemala prepared for Agatha even as they were handling another disaster.

Two different nations, two different storms, two different circumstances.
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Quoting Weather456:
Compare Arlene 2005, Alberto 2006 and Barry 2007. All these early season storms had one thing in common - alternating troughs and ridges pattern which aided in lowering shear but at the same provided some level of upper forcing. Barry developed in 40 knots due to a baroclinic environment induced by a trough over the E GOM, so did Arlene and Alberto but to a lesser extent.

This pattern is totally absent in over the next 48 hrs. The subtropical jet stream is flat with no alternating troughs-ridge patterns.

Arlene 2005




Alberto 2006





Barry 2007





2 days from today



Yes, Arlene had the great benefit of a trough over the central GOM which ventilated the area in which she developed. The upper ridge over the western Caribbean then amplified into the eastern GOM and provided low shear for Arlene, which allowed her to strengthen up to landfall. That will not happen here for ex-Agatha.

June 8th:





June 10th:




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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
it has to be a min of 12 hrs of persistant convection for a investive area it firer up just before 9 am at 9 pm 12 hrs if its there then its an area of invest


The only requirement for invests is the forecaster/NHC want additional data (NRL, CIMSS, or cyclone specific models) on a system.

As far as a special TWO its the judgement of the forecaster weather a cyclone will form in the next 48 hours.
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Quoting altesticstorm10:




In all seriousnes...Agatha will not be retired. Hanna was a hurricane and didn't get retired after killing over 700 people in Haiti.


I dunno. Hurricane Ismael, the 7th deadliest storm in the East Pacific, killed 116 people (2 more than Agatha), and got retired. Might've been because of more structural damage though.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
It was just a quick stop to say hello to some people. I didn't catch the name of the building, but it's located in Key Biscayne, here in Miami.

You must be at AOML. Had a job offer once across the street at RSMAS. (declined...)
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Wikipedia:

The oilfish, Ruvettus pretiosus, is a species of snake mackerel in the family Gempylidae, and the only species in the genus Ruvettus. It is found in the Mediterranean, middle Atlantic and throughout the southern seas, at depths of between 100 and 800 m. Its length is between 80 cm and 2 m.

The flesh is very oily and although edible, the oil actually consists of wax esters, which are not digested like traditional oil. The flesh has an oil content of around 25%, and with serving sizes of several ounces and upwards commonplace, some people experience a laxative side effect from such a large amount of wax esters.

Olfish is pleasantly rich in taste and can be substantially cheaper than some other fish species, leading to some fish sellers to intentionally mislabel it as butterfish or even codfish despite the utter lack of relation. This leads the consumer to often eat large servings, as they assume it is a fish they are familiar with, and then some may experience a laxative effect. Because of this, Japan and Italy have imposed an import ban on oilfish and Australia has banned oilfish from being sold as food. The US FDA has warned consumers about potential mislabeling of oilfish, but has concluded that any laxative side effects that occur are uncomfortable at worst and pose no health risk.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
The GOM WV loop tells the tale. Once it tries to exit the Yucatan channel fast moving winds from W to E await its arrival. In the last couple of frames you can already see the convection being suppressed on the NW side.

Notice the complete absence of moisture from the Yucatan channel to points North,compliments of high shear and dry conditions aloft
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Quoting Levi32:


Invests are not held to persistence rules. They can be designated at any time by the discretion of the hurricane specialists.
Correct.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
it has to be a min of 12 hrs of persistant convection for a investive area it firer up just before 9 am at 9 pm 12 hrs if its there then its an area of invest


Invests are not held to persistence rules. They can be designated at any time by the discretion of the hurricane specialists.
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Compare Arlene 2005, Alberto 2006 and Barry 2007. All these early season storms had one thing in common - alternating troughs and ridges pattern which aided in lowering shear but at the same provided some level of upper forcing. Barry developed in 40 knots due to a baroclinic environment induced by a trough over the E GOM, so did Arlene and Alberto but to a lesser extent.

This pattern is totally absent in over the next 48 hrs. The subtropical jet stream is flat with no alternating troughs-ridge patterns.

Arlene 2005




Alberto 2006





Barry 2007





2 days from today

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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL. Did you know that "oilfish" is an actual fish because of the high oil content in its meat, it can be found in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Oilfish


Nice pic!
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I lol'd. How do you know these kinds of things? XD
Google, lol.
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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.

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