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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Quoting ElConando:


Its funny how Tropical depressions usually need 30mph winds to be called by the NHC but yet they can still be called tropical depressions when winds are 10-15mph when weakening.


A retired sailor will always be a sailor...
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I see that nothing has changed on here.....

Anyone can look at up close at the visible loop at west carib and see winds coming into the area...... West winds are hard to find... Not saying that they are not present....

Lets keep an eye on this......... lol
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Quoting Weather456:
We also need winds of 25 knots, the most I saw in the ASCAT pass was 15 knots.


Its funny how Tropical depressions usually need 30mph winds to be called by the NHC but yet they can still be called tropical depressions when winds are 10-15mph when weakening.
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Quoting Weather456:
We also need winds of 25 knots, the most I saw in the ASCAT pass is 15 knots.


You would think at least a yellow circle and a TWO would be warranted for this situation. It's a heck of a lot more impressive than 90L was.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting Levi32:


Cancun Radar


Thanks
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Invests aren't under the requirement of persistence.
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Quoting frostynugs:
where does one go to upload an avatar? i see a photo upload section, but it appears to be for the outdoor wunderphotos and such.


Don't know if we should tell you. The idea of a frostynugs avatar is a little scary. ;>)
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


In all respect, how does a SE wind in Belize support a closed surface low with this disturbance? Wouldn't you expect a NW wind to support such a conclusion? Thanks.


Hey, he said it is closed. That closes the discussion.
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Quoting EricSFL:
Does anyone have the link to the Cancun radar?


Cancun Radar
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
What trough? Are you talking about the monsoonal trough? And second of all it isn't moving N at 8 MPH, it if anything is stationary.



Dude there is no monsoonal trough... its a trough of low pressure extending from a weak 1010 low down SSW into Belize..even the NHC mentions the trough. Case Closed!
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Quoting kuppenskup:
Did the NHC issue a Special Tropical Disturbance Statement on this as of yet?


No. I'm not sure they ever will.

It doesn't matter at all what we think of the blob, but what the NHC thinks. And barely a mention in the 2 PM discussion. It's running out of time to be recognized folks.
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I doubt the NHC would be in much of a hurry to say anything about it today. Especially since they will be issuing their regular TWO's starting at 2am tomorrow.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
587. xcool
30% 91L
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
has to persist till after 9 tonight thats 12 hrs
If it has been persistent for 8 hours, as I'm hearing, then it would be at 6:00 PM EDY
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
We also need winds of 25 knots, the most I saw in the ASCAT pass was 15 knots.
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Does anyone have the link to the Cancun radar?
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http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/wg8shr.html

the antyclone has formed right over the "supposed center"

in addition, the surface obserbations from 2 indicate that there is a surface circulation

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/winds/wg8ir.html
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if anything it will be after 12 midnight to usher in the 2010 Hurricane Season
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Did the NHC issue a Special Tropical Disturbance Statement on this as of yet?
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


In all respect, how does a SE wind in Belize support a closed surface low with this disturbance? Wouldn't you expect a NW wind to support such a conclusion? Thanks.


ASCAT and surface obs show westerly winds north of Honduras. The SE wind in Belize is associated with the old low-level vort max which you can clearly see in the cumulus cloud streets over Belize in this loop. To the east of Belize, the surface winds are westerly.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Hello everyone........

Happy Memorial Day!

The leftovers of Agatha are still hanging around just enough to make it interesting.....

Good to see that some of the old players are still here.......
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Quoting altesticstorm10:
should be 91L and at the very least mentioned on the 5pm TWO.
has to persist till after 9 tonight thats 12 hrs
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Quoting Levi32:


It's moving north gradually, and how well-defined the surface center is is questionable. The surface clouds on the south side of the system look elongated to me.
Yes, it is moving slowly northward but not 8MPH.
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Quoting frostynugs:
where does one go to upload an avatar? i see a photo upload section, but it appears to be for the outdoor wunderphotos and such.


click on your blank avatar and browse an image.
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Quoting leo305:


so then why isn't it a TD if it is a closed surface low.. and why aren't the NHC calling it an invest at the least


For a TD to be designated the NHC likes at least 12 hours of persistence of organized convection around the center. It has been 8 hours, and they may be skeptical about the old vort max still over Belize, as well as the elongated look of the circulation south of the center.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The west wind says it all:



Is that a Chinese proverb?
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Looks like the NHC still isn't interested all that much.


They want to wait for convection to persist a little more.
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Quoting Levi32:


A surface low and a closed surface low are two different things.

But yes it is closed. The discussion does not specifically say so, but it is based on satellite/surface obs/ASCAT


In all respect, how does a SE wind in Belize support a closed surface low with this disturbance? Wouldn't you expect a NW wind to support such a conclusion? Thanks.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Looks like the NHC still isn't interested all that much.


Neither am I.
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Quoting altesticstorm10:
Closed LLC
30 mph
1010 mb

TD 1
If that isn't official information please don't post it in that matter.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
What trough? Are you talking about the monsoonal trough? And second of all it isn't moving N at 8 MPH, it if anything is stationary.


It's moving north gradually, and how well-defined the surface center is is questionable. The surface clouds on the south side of the system look elongated to me.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Looks like the NHC still isn't interested all that much.
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Quoting Levi32:


A surface low and a closed surface low are two different things.

But yes it is closed. The discussion does not specifically say so, but it is based on satellite/surface obs/ASCAT


so then why isn't it a TD if it is a closed surface low.. and why aren't the NHC calling it an invest at the least
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Quoting Weather456:


The 2PM discussion is based on 12Z maps, which is a good amount of hours before these observations were made.


Exactly.
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Quoting Levi32:


A surface low and a closed surface low are two different things.

But yes it is closed. The discussion does not specifically say so, but it is based on satellite/surface obs/ASCAT
My bad, I meant to say closed surface low.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
Quoting Weather456:


The 2PM discussion is based on 12Z maps, which is a good amount of hours before these observations were made.


I should have been more clear. I meant that the surface low is closed based on satellite/surface obs/ASCAT. The discussion, as you said, was based on 12z surface obs.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting scottsvb:


Yes there is a 1010 mb low and its also a trough of low pressure. I always stated there was a tight LLC in my previous posts (check back) but its weakening. CCHS said a simular point. Also the circulation of west winds over Belize is from the trough and infact surface obs show SE winds up to 1,100 ft then they pick up the trough above that. Most are seeing the midlevel circulation with weak vortmaxs in the individual cell-T-Storm clusters.
The point being, this has a 10% chance of less of becoming anything. I wish it would develop but its weaking and moving N @ 8mph.
What trough? Are you talking about the monsoonal trough? And second of all it isn't moving N at 8 MPH, it if anything is stationary.
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559. xcool
UPDATED: 12:30 pm EDT, May 31, 2010 by Mark Sudduth email me
TOMORROW NIGHT HURRICANETRACK NEWS/TALK RETURNS WITH SPECIAL GUEST, JOR BASTARDI

Tomorrow begins the Atlantic hurricane season and to start things off, we are firing up our third season of HurricaneTrack News/Talk tomorrow night. The LIVE broadcast will begin at 8pm ET right here on the homepage. For this one broadcast only, we'll feature video as well as the usual audio broadcast. Join Mike Watkins, Jesse Bass and me as we discuss the season ahead and why experts are calling for it to be so busy. All of that will be during the 8 O'clock hour. Then, at 9pm, we will welcome Accuweather's Joe Bastardi to the program for his insight on all things hurricanes. We invite you to post your questions, thoughts, suggestions, etc. on our Facebook page and/or our Twitter page. We'll try to integrate as many as possible in to tomorrow night's program. Can't listen/watch live? No problem, it will be archived on Ustream for later viewing.

I would like to welcome our newest sponsor, PhysicianWork to the family. We have been working on the sponsorship since last Fall and are pleased to have their support this year. Check out their site via the logo on the right hand column. Our medical professional visitors may find it quite useful and perhaps familiar. Again, our many thanks to PhysicianWork for their forward thinking and support of our efforts.

We hope to see as many of you as possible tomorrow night! The program begins at 8pm right here on the homepage. Our Premium Services members can join us via live chat on the Premium Services homepage.

UPDATED: 9:45 am EDT, May 31, 2010 by Mark Sudduth email me
WEEKLY HURRICANE OUTLOOK VIDEO BEGINS TODAY- 11am ET

Today marks the beginning of a new feature here that I think people are going to get a lot of use out of. It is called the Weekly Hurricane Outlook. It is a live video broadcast where by I will go over any potential development in the tropics, discuss important aspects of the season such as sea surface temperatures and dust outbreaks off of Africa and much more. The video will be broadcast via Ustream in the player below. If you are not able to watch live, no worries, each week's video will be archived and linked to. Starting with today's video, I will post a quick summary of what I plan to go over- so you'll know what to expect. Going forward, I invite our audience to submit questions or topics for discussion via our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Yes, plain old-fashioned email works fine too.

This week's video will go over sea surface temps, a look at ex-TS Agatha, current conditions across the Atlantic Basin and a look down the road via computer models for the next five days.
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where does one go to upload an avatar? i see a photo upload section, but it appears to be for the outdoor wunderphotos and such.
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Quoting Levi32:


A surface low and a closed surface low are two different things.

But yes it is closed. The discussion does not specifically say so, but it is based on satellite/surface obs/ASCAT


The 2PM discussion is based on 12Z maps, which is a good amount of hours before these observations were made.
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Quoting Levi32:


Pretty much stating the obvious right there. I'm disappointed that there is no TWO issued. There is obviously at least some chance of development.
I know I shouldn't do this but I really want to email them, even though they have a person who's sole job is to answer emails I don't want to annoy them.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21032
sorry all. When I was referring to the diurnal minima I should have said air and NOT land. It's the differential in the air and water that equalizes around 4PM in whatever time zone we're talking about and the difference maximizes around 4AM.
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June Tropical Weather Outlook
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I understand what you mean but in this instance there is a surface low there, read the 2:05 discussion.


A surface low and a closed surface low are two different things.

But yes it is closed. The discussion does not specifically say so, but it is based on satellite/surface obs/ASCAT
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The NHC just said that there is a 1010 MB low, and believe me no one on this blog knows more than they do, and even if someone does it doesn't matter because the NHC is in charge.


Yes there is a 1010 mb low and its also a trough of low pressure. I always stated there was a tight LLC in my previous posts (check back) but its weakening. CCHS said a simular point. Also the circulation of west winds over Belize is from the trough and infact surface obs show SE winds up to 1,100 ft then they pick up the trough above that. Most are seeing the midlevel circulation with weak vortmaxs in the individual cell-T-Storm clusters.
The point being, this has a 10% chance of less of becoming anything. I wish it would develop but its weaking and moving N @ 8mph.
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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.