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 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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549. kingy
Quoting frostynugs:
glad to see all these familiar faces again. glad to be back in the season (though i hope for no destruction, i still enjoy watching these things form)... this year's season has me especially worried with the oil in the gulf. this is unprecedented, we've never quite been faced with a situation like this before. it could get ugly for those of us in the northern gulf.

those of you like drak and stormw (and too many others to list here), who provide us with your own well informed forecasts, thank you and keep doing your thing! one can learn quite a lot hanging out around here, and gaining and sharing knowledge is one of my favorite aspects of life!

most of all though, thanks to you Dr. Masters, for giving us this place to learn and share. what I and many others here have learned from this place has helped me in making informed decisions that could very well be life saving.


good to see you frosty nuggets
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


When analyzing for a closed surface low, one should always use surface observations to make that judgment. Just because there appears to be turning in the atmosphere on satellite, doesn't mean its at the surface. Most times, what people see as a surface low is in fact a mid-level circulation. That may be the case here.


um nhc just said in the 205pm TWD that there is a 1010mb low
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ASCAT: closed surface low

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26749
Quoting cchsweatherman:


When analyzing for a closed surface low, one should always use surface observations to make that judgment. Just because there appears to be turning in the atmosphere on satellite, doesn't mean its at the surface. Most times, what people see as a surface low is in fact a mid-level circulation. That may be the case here.
I understand what you mean but in this instance there is a surface low there, read the 2:05 discussion.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The 2:05 discussion strongly says that there is a 1010 MB low centered over Belize.

CARIBBEAN SEA...
TWO TROPICAL WAVES ARE OVER SOUTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN SEA.
SEE ABOVE. A 1010 MB LOW IS CENTERED OFF THE COAST OF BELIZE
NEAR 18N87W DRIFTING N.
SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG
CONVECTION IS FROM 17N-19N BETWEEN 85W-87W. SCATTERED SHOWERS
ARE OVER THE NW CARIBBEAN N OF 20N BETWEEN 78W-87W. FURTHER S...
SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS OVER PANAMA
FROM 8N-11N BETWEEN 77W-80W. FURTHER E...THE TAIL END OF A
SURFACE TROUGH FROM N OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS TO HISPANIOLA IS
PRODUCING ISOLATED MODERATE CONVECTION FROM 17N-21N BETWEEN
66W-71W. IN THE UPPER LEVELS...AN UPPER LEVEL HIGH IS CENTERED
OVER THE W CARIBBEAN NEAR 15N82W. ANOTHER UPPER LEVEL HIGH IS
CENTERED E OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS NEAR 16N58W. SUBSIDENCE IS
NOTED IN THE VICINITY OF BOTH UPPER LEVEL HIGHS WHILE UPPER
LEVEL MOISTURE IS NOTED ELSEWHERE. EXPECT OVER THE NEXT 24
HOURS...FOR RAIN AND SHOWERS TO DOT MOST OF THE CARIBBEAN DUE TO
THE EXISTING SURFACE FEATURES.


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.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26749
I remember last year people were saying that the NHC ran out of "crayons" because of the lack of colored circles around blobs. lol
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Just look on satellite imagery, it's pretty evident to see a surface low.


When analyzing for a closed surface low, one should always use surface observations to make that judgment. Just because there appears to be turning in the atmosphere on satellite, doesn't mean its at the surface. Most times, what people see as a surface low is in fact a mid-level circulation. That may be the case here.
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
Barely a mention by the NHC in their 2:00 discussion.

Now the blog goes into a depression.
Were,s^&*(^ my xanax.OI&^&$^%
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
Barely a mention by the NHC in their 2:00 discussion.

Now the blog goes into a depression.
Oh the sadness. LOL. I think I should email them.
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Quoting scottsvb:


12z map has a Low of 1010mb or @ 8am EST.. Maps are not the best thing togo by. Remember just saturday I said it was going to come inland in the next 6-24hrs and it came inland in 6-12hrs and you said the models-maps said Monday.. cause of the MapsModels you saw. Maps are generally off by 12hrs anyways and the guidance models are usually too slow.
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.
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NHC doesn't seem to alarmed by it so don't expect anything out of it at this time
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glad to see all these familiar faces again. glad to be back in the season (though i hope for no destruction, i still enjoy watching these things form)... this year's season has me especially worried with the oil in the gulf. this is unprecedented, we've never quite been faced with a situation like this before. it could get ugly for those of us in the northern gulf.

those of you like drak and stormw (and too many others to list here), who provide us with your own well informed forecasts, thank you and keep doing your thing! one can learn quite a lot hanging out around here, and gaining and sharing knowledge is one of my favorite aspects of life!

most of all though, thanks to you Dr. Masters, for giving us this place to learn and share. what I and many others here have learned from this place has helped me in making informed decisions that could very well be life saving.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Really?

12z Surface Analysis.



12z map has a Low of 1010mb or @ 8am EST.. Maps are not the best thing togo by. Remember just saturday I said it was going to come inland in the next 6-24hrs and it came inland in 6-12hrs and you said the models-maps said Monday.. cause of the MapsModels you saw. Maps are generally off by 12hrs anyways and the guidance models are usually too slow.
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whats up kids
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The 2:05 discussion strongly says that there is a 1010 MB low centered over Belize.

CARIBBEAN SEA...
TWO TROPICAL WAVES ARE OVER SOUTH AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN SEA.
SEE ABOVE. A 1010 MB LOW IS CENTERED OFF THE COAST OF BELIZE
NEAR 18N87W DRIFTING N.
SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG
CONVECTION IS FROM 17N-19N BETWEEN 85W-87W. SCATTERED SHOWERS
ARE OVER THE NW CARIBBEAN N OF 20N BETWEEN 78W-87W. FURTHER S...
SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS OVER PANAMA
FROM 8N-11N BETWEEN 77W-80W. FURTHER E...THE TAIL END OF A
SURFACE TROUGH FROM N OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS TO HISPANIOLA IS
PRODUCING ISOLATED MODERATE CONVECTION FROM 17N-21N BETWEEN
66W-71W. IN THE UPPER LEVELS...AN UPPER LEVEL HIGH IS CENTERED
OVER THE W CARIBBEAN NEAR 15N82W. ANOTHER UPPER LEVEL HIGH IS
CENTERED E OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS NEAR 16N58W. SUBSIDENCE IS
NOTED IN THE VICINITY OF BOTH UPPER LEVEL HIGHS WHILE UPPER
LEVEL MOISTURE IS NOTED ELSEWHERE. EXPECT OVER THE NEXT 24
HOURS...FOR RAIN AND SHOWERS TO DOT MOST OF THE CARIBBEAN DUE TO
THE EXISTING SURFACE FEATURES.
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.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Please look at the time stamp for the surface map. It was published for 12Z or 8:00AM EST. Most recent surface observations do not support a closed low-level circulation with the disturbance as Belize has been reporting a SE wind. In order for there to be a closed low with the disturbance, winds should be coming from the NW across Belize.
Just look on satellite imagery, it's pretty evident to see a surface low.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Low Level Circulation


Thank you.
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or Limited Liability Corporation
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Quoting kuppenskup:
What does LLC mean?


Low Level Circulation
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Quoting EricSFL:
NHC surface analysis shows the Low sort of stationary for quite some time, yet the ball of convection is clearly moving northward.

Yes, the low-level, northerly steering is very weak, but slightly stronger at the mid-levels.
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Quoting kuppenskup:
What does LLC mean?
Low Level Circulation
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Quoting kuppenskup:


But the problem is if this system moves due north a good portion of it will be over land then it's gonna be in the Gulf and with that sheer it's not going to have time to organize very much. That's why I was saying it's chances of surviving are a lot better with any kind of a NE movement.


Basically, it is between a rock (land) and a hard place (high wind shear over water)...

However, if it threads the needle just right, it may strenghten... Personally, I prefer either the rock or hard place - but keep a careful eye on the needle.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Really?

12z Surface Analysis.



Please look at the time stamp for the surface map. It was published for 12Z or 8:00AM EST. Most recent surface observations do not support a closed low-level circulation with the disturbance as Belize has been reporting a SE wind. In order for there to be a closed low with the disturbance, winds should be coming from the NW across Belize.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Interesting little features such as these can spin up quickly.

Sometimes it workes better to have large systems that take a lot of time to develop than to have they pesky ones, Bill (2009) comes to mind.
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What does LLC mean?
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Interesting little features such as these can spin up quickly.

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Quoting scottsvb:


Ive already explained it 10 times in here for everyone sheesh..
Well please make it the eleventh.
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NHC surface analysis shows the Low sort of stationary for quite some time, yet the ball of convection is clearly moving northward.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Really? Please explain to me why you think that?


Ive already explained it 10 times in here for everyone sheesh..
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Quoting Fl30258713:
I haven't posted here in a long time. I use to know how to post images and links. Something is different. Hmmm? Help from anyone would be appreciated.


Were you back in heethema?
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


After looking at surface observations near the disturbance, I would have to agree that there is no LLC at this time.
Really?

12z Surface Analysis.

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I think it's a closed COC... Maybe not full 100% LLC but definitely a MLC and a rapidly delvoping LLC at that.

http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/nexdat/CONUS/focus_regions/NW_Atlantic/Caribbean/Winds/ASCAT/composite_6 hr/20100531.1800.ascat.winds_6hr.nexsat_Caribbean.041pc.jpg
Member Since: January 14, 2007 Posts: 17 Comments: 4140
considering all the key elements are in place and that NOAA has high numbers Im goin to raise my numbers from my earlier outlook which was 16 8 4.. to 20 10 6.... course Im no expert and this outlook will prob be a bust lol
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511. xcool
Miami oh :)
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510. xcool
move to nw .imo.
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Quoting xcool:
Miami nooway /??
I think chances are moderate, Scott here seems to have a different opinion.
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Quoting scottsvb:
All you guys see are the midlevel clouds. The LLC is almost open now and weakening. The trough extends down to Belize. W winds you see in Belize is just above the surface. Local Obs have SE winds up to 1,100 ft. This thing has under a 10% chance of development


After looking at surface observations near the disturbance, I would have to agree that there is no LLC at this time.
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OSI SAF Ascat solution


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I haven't posted here in a long time. I use to know how to post images and links. Something is different. Hmmm? Help from anyone would be appreciated.
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Quoting scottsvb:




Not even close!
Really? Please explain to me why you think that?
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503. xcool
Miami nooway /??
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
That is a cool picture Keep. I can see the LLC.
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Ex-Agatha has its best chance of developing right now. Soon, it will enter unfavorable wind shear. By then, if Ex-Agatha becomes a tropical system, it will dissipate when it enters the GOM because of unfavorable wind shear and dry air.
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Quoting kuppenskup:


It's so funny you said that I just mentioned that to my wife.
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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