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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1949. Grothar
Quoting DestinJeff:


those color-enhanced images seem to usually make things look much more impressive than they are



Hey, it worked for Van Gogh!!! I know Jeff, I was trying to keep Reed on his toes. He knows I fool with him sometimes. But, you have to admit, they are nice colors?
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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Man ex-Agatha is intriguing. Look at it play dead on us and then the decoupled circulation supports another heroic burst of convection. Apparently not dead yet.


Well put...when they decouple the resulting circulation can spawn a new tc. Wait and see if it has lasting power now.
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1947. Levi32
Quoting Drakoen:


Yea but look at the pressure...


We'll have to see what this does...it stopped skyrocketing amongst the diurnal cycles yesterday and may even be starting a slow downward trend. We'll have to watch it today.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
1946. A4Guy
is the big thing to the right of the saw the blowout preventer that should have pinched the pipes closed?
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1945. Levi32
Quoting scottsvb:


Yesterday it never really decoupled, the LLC was very weak and small. Yesterday it as mosly a trough with a midlevel circulation.


It decoupled clearly on satellite imagery.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
Good Morn Patrap, any discussion round your parts on the possibility that BP didn't try injecting heavier block material (i.e. concrete) to block the flow? There are suggestions that they want to try anything but something which will permanently block the flow. If they succeed with the side drilling they will be able to "save the well" and get to pump it for years to come...but if they had used a heavier block such as concrete it could have compromised their oil production at the site in the future...and their bottom line at BPis $$$ only....
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1943. Grothar
Quoting Floodman:


You're right, as far as the tornados go...every storm is different and that being the case, each carries it's own unique potential for spinning off tornados


.
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1942. Drakoen
Quoting Levi32:
Belize City reporting light NNW winds, something we did not see yesterday.


Yea but look at the pressure...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29714
Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Man ex-Agatha is intriguing. Look at it play dead on us and then the decoupled circulation supports another heroic burst of convection. Apparently not dead yet.


Yesterday it never really decoupled, the LLC was very weak and small. Yesterday it as moslty a trough with a midlevel circulation.
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1940. Levi32
Belize City reporting light NNW winds, something we did not see yesterday.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
Quoting eddye:
reedzone prove it


Not hard to tell by the clouds starting to fade in the image, dry air slamming into them as well, listen I am not a downcaster or a wishcaster, I forecast by what I see in the pattern. Sometimes I can go overboard, then other times, I can nail them just right. DMAX is just about over and the blob should start to fade out completely, esecially when it's moving north into hostile conditions. It is only June 1st.
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1938. Drakoen
Going to have difficult maintaining convection without a well-defined surface low. Repeat of yesterday perhaps...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29714
1936. Levi32
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
Sink Hole pictures

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37420998

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1934. Levi32
Good morning all.

Man ex-Agatha is intriguing. Look at it play dead on us and then the decoupled circulation supports another heroic burst of convection. Apparently not dead yet.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26452
1932. Grothar
Quoting reedzone:


Blob already fading, thanks for the image Patrap.


Looks pretty good for now? What do you see that we don't.

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Its just a trough convergence of air in the midlevels. Though sometimes with persistance it will form a LLC. Chances are 10% of development.
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Quoting Grothar:


I do not believe every hurricane produces hundreds of tornados. There was only one with which I am familiar that produced well over 100 which as we all remember was Beaulah. Every hurricane does have other types of vortices which produce a lot of damage. Having been through Hurricanes since 1948. We have only evacuated twice since we lived on the beach back in the 1950's. The problem is we never know where the hurricane is going. With a few storms in 2004 they were supposed to hit the Dade-Broward area and instead hit north of here where many people here had evacuated. The best advice is to listen to your local authorities. If they tell you to evacuate, then leave. If you are not comfortable where you are leave. Just look up the evacuation of Rita, more people died in the evacuation than in the storm.


You're right, as far as the tornados go...every storm is different and that being the case, each carries it's own unique potential for spinning off tornados
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Heavy thunderstorms over Venezuela are part of a tropical wave that may spark development of a tc in the SW carib or the East Pac mid week.
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A little kickback? Dropped the saw.
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1927. eddye
reedzone prove it
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1926. Grothar
Quoting RENONV:


What about the tornados? I have traveled around and seen the wind fields after every hurricane for the past 15 years. I have seen where the tornados touch down in those wind fields and the damage they cause to structures. Every hurricane literally generates 100’s of tornados within its wind field and they cannot be predicted where they hit with over 200mph winds. If I lived in an area where a hurricane was predicted to make landfall it would be the potential for a tornado hitting where I’m at than the hurricane force winds that would make me leave.


I do not believe every hurricane produces hundreds of tornados. There was only one with which I am familiar that produced well over 100 which as we all remember was Beaulah. Every hurricane does have other types of vortices which produce a lot of damage. Having been through Hurricanes since 1948. We have only evacuated twice since we lived on the beach back in the 1950's. The problem is we never know where the hurricane is going. With a few storms in 2004 they were supposed to hit the Dade-Broward area and instead hit north of here where many people here had evacuated. The best advice is to listen to your local authorities. If they tell you to evacuate, then leave. If you are not comfortable where you are leave. Just look up the evacuation of Rita, more people died in the evacuation than in the storm.
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Quoting Patrap:


Blob already fading, thanks for the image Patrap.
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1924. Patrap
Virtual Spinning Globe
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Quoting hurricane23:


Yet to see any significant pressure falls. Those strong westerlies just to its north aren't going anywere.


Again, I will say this.. True, it will most likely die out. Though, I believe anything is possible, which is why the NHC has a very good call, 10%.
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1913. mikatnight 1:59 PM GMT on June 01, 2010
Quoting NorthofAtlanta:
Looks like they're cutting the riser about 40' from the BOP, Stress relief before they cut the top off?

live feed


Wow...happening now. Must see tv!


morning everyone....i just hope they understand the amount of pressure that will be coming out of it when they do cut it...if they couldn't do anything about slamming mud into what maks them think they can just put something right on top of it?? i mean i'm no expert what so ever but 6500 psi is alot of dang pressure...fingers crossed again but persoanlly don't think it's going to work either...
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1921. Patrap
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1920. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number SEVEN
CYCLONIC STORM PHET (ARB02-2010)
14:30 PM IST June 1 2010
=======================================

At 9:00 AM UTC, The Deep Depression over west central and adjoining east central Arabian Sea moved northwestwards and intensified into a cyclonic storm. Cyclonic Storm Phet lays centered near 16.0N 63.0E or about 1100 kms west southwest of Mumbai, 1030 kms southwest of Naliya, and 1100 kms south southwest of Karachi, Pakistan.

3 minute sustained winds near the center is 35 knots with a central pressure of 995 hPa. The state of the sea is high around the system's center.

Satellite imagery indicates central dense overcast pattern. The Dvorak intensity of the system is T2.5. Associated broken intense to very intense convection observed over the area between 12.0N to 18.0N and 57.0 to 65.0E. The lowest cloud top temperature due to convection is around -80C in association with the system.

Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is between 5-10 knots. The system lies to the south of tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 20.0N over the region. The relatively vorticity at 850 HPA level and upper level divergence are favorable for intensification.

Current environmental conditions and numerical weather prediction models suggest the system would intensify into a severe cyclonic storm and move initially north northwesterly/northerly direction for the next 24 hours and then recurve northeastward towards Gujarat and adjoining Pakistan coast under the influence of the approaching trough in mid latitude.

Forecast and Intensity
==========================
9 HRS: 17.0N 62.5E - 40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
21 HRS: 18.0N 62.5E - 50 knots (Severe Cyclonic Storm)
45 HRS: 20.5N 64.0E - 65 knots (Very Severe Cyclonic Storm)
69 HRS: 23.0N 67.5E - 75 knots (Very Severe Cyclonic Storm)
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Quoting Drakoen:


CLick fronts. What is the big L

Link
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Quoting wadedanielsmith:
The Israeli ambassador just said his troops were armed with non-lethal weaponry: Literally PAINTBALL GUNS...because they tried to minimize casualties.

Which even the ultra-liberal, pro-muslim, pro-palestinian, anti-Israel CNN just reported.

"Baaaad Israelis...baaaad Israelis...how dare you board a weapons-smuggling boat while having your own soldiers armed only with non-lethal ammunition..." (sarcasm)



*POOF* As I said earlier, wrong blog.
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1917. skep
There is some interesting action deep down in the GOM:
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1916. Drakoen
Quoting 900MB:


Any guess on motion, if any?


Drifting north
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29714
Quoting reedzone:


True, it will most likely die out later, but never underestimate Mother Natures works, we've seen strange things happen in the tropics.


Yet to see any significant pressure falls. Those strong westerlies just to its north aren't going anywere.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13594
Good Morning

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Quoting NorthofAtlanta:
Looks like they're cutting the riser about 40' from the BOP, Stress relief before they cut the top off?

live feed


Wow...happening now. Must see tv!
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Looks like they're cutting the riser about 40' from the BOP, Stress relief before they cut the top off?

live feed
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Quoting hurricane23:


Blob will likely poof later today.The only chance at development (if any) is if stays stationary cause it trys to move northward it will get a nice hair cut.


True, it will most likely die out later, but never underestimate Mother Natures works, we've seen strange things happen in the tropics.
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Quoting reedzone:
I see a nice blob, but no circulation lol.. Maybe it'll go POOF, or maybe it's a sign that soemthing is going on.. I expected to see a blowup this morning anywyas do to DMAX with high sea temps and 10-20 knots of wind shear. Happy June 1st everybody, get ready for one hell of a season!


Reed take a look at the Dvorak and visible loops together. It is spinning at mid to low levels and has some venting as well....interesting so far this morning....
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The convection shows some shear affects from SW as the 20kt winds run SW to NE, that said it is holding well and not collapsing as a simple thunderstorm would. It;s ability to hold it's convection and position will determine it's future.
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I see a nice blob, but no circulation lol.. Maybe it'll go POOF, or maybe it's a sign that soemthing is going on.. I expected to see a blowup this morning anywyas do to DMAX with high sea temps and 10-20 knots of wind shear. Happy June 1st everybody, get ready for one hell of a season!
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Quoting mikatnight:


Palm Beach Post has a good map page. Link.


Thank you, that's just what I needed.
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Quoting Drakoen:
It's under 10-20 knots of wind shear so upper level winds are marginally conducive for development.


Blob will likely poof later today.The only chance at development (if any) is if stays stationary cause it trys to move northward it will get a nice hair cut.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13594
Why, if you live in Florida, you shouldn't evacuate to a different region.

Florida Evacuation Routes.
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Quoting eddye:
is that blob moving towards florida
That blob looks stationary?
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1902. 900MB
Quoting Drakoen:
It's under 10-20 knots of wind shear so upper level winds are marginally conducive for development.


Any guess on motion, if any?
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1901. hercj
other than the CMC does any other model have this thing hanging around.
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Quoting CaneWarning:
Does anyone know where I can find the hurricane evacuation maps for Palm Beach County? I have a friend moving to that from up north and I'd like to give him a copy.


Palm Beach Post has a good map page. Link.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.