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 nrtiwlnvragn:
ASCAT solution from NRL does not catch the circulation.



Click on image to view original size in a new window





The westerly winds east of belize speak for themselves. We have ourselves a closed surface circulation. How well-defined it is, is the question. It almost has an elongated look on visible satellite loops.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting Levi32:


Courtesy of the positive Indian Dipole...which means enhanced African wave activity for us in the Atlantic this year.


Last nighhts 00z GFS had 2 moderate CV waves rolling off the african coast in the long range. Not that they will come to fruition, but the fact that its MAY 31 and were seeing that is almost downright scary.
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thanks again Levi. Yes, it's pretty small and looks to be shrinking a bit, but we're also heading into the diurnal minimum but it looks like there's enough angular momentum in it to keep it chugging for a few more hours 'till the land around it cool with respect to the water under it and that should give it a boost - no.
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ASCAT solution from NRL does not catch the circulation.



Click on image to view original size in a new window



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445. WAHA
Quoting Levi32:


There is commonly a semi-permanent vort max near Panama during the summer, but the monsoon trough is currently undergoing redevelopment after being majorly disrupted last week. In fact ex-Agatha is along the old monsoonal trough boundary which migrated north into the Caribbean. The tropical wave interacting with the newly-forming boundary near Panama may spark cyclogenesis, but hard to say in which basin yet.

Dangit, Levi, I was going to answer that!
But yes, it is true, that is a very common thing at this time of year, but most of the time, they do not reach cyclogenesis in the atlantic.
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Significant inflow.With a little more persistence we have a TD.
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Quoting highndry1:
thanks Levi, so do any of the models develop it? The water it's over certainly seem warm enough to do so, as I recall, the shear is low enough, and in looking at the latest loop, it seems to have developed a circulation of some type or another - no? From what I gather in reading this board, there's an anticyclone developing over it, which should diminish the shear further, so could this become TS Alex by tomorrow?


None of the models develop it, but that could be because the system is very small, and does not show up well on the low resolution of the global models.

I give the system a moderate chance of becoming a tropical depression. If that occurs, then we will assess how likely it is to strengthen into a tropical storm.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I agree. I think it should be designated as a "special feature" on the 2:05 PM discussion, IMO.


Wont be though since its not about to be anything. If this was about to be a depression in the next 24hrs or so, then yeah.
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thanks Levi, so do any of the models develop it? The water it's over certainly seem warm enough to do so, as I recall, the shear is low enough, and in looking at the latest loop, it seems to have developed a circulation of some type or another - no? From what I gather in reading this board, there's an anticyclone developing over it, which should diminish the shear further, so could this become TS Alex by tomorrow?
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting stormhank:
Afternoon all....I see another invest in arabian sea...isnt that kinda strange?? That area normally dont have many storms does it??


Courtesy of the positive Indian Dipole...which means enhanced African wave activity for us in the Atlantic this year.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting stillwaiting:
it'll be 91L before 5pm,imo
I agree. I think it should be designated as a "special feature" on the 2:05 PM discussion, IMO.
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Quoting stillwaiting:
it'll be 91L before 5pm,imo


Yep,, could be for a day or so.
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Afternoon all....I see another invest in arabian sea...isnt that kinda strange?? That area normally dont have many storms does it??
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Quoting stillwaiting:
panamainian low,isn't that a common occurance this time of year?????


There is commonly a semi-permanent vort max near Panama during the summer, but the monsoon trough is currently undergoing redevelopment after being majorly disrupted last week. In fact ex-Agatha is along the old monsoonal trough boundary which migrated north into the Caribbean. The tropical wave interacting with the newly-forming boundary near Panama may spark cyclogenesis, but hard to say in which basin yet.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
it'll be 91L before 5pm,imo
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Quoting highndry1:
So, is it just me, or has the remnants of Agatha gained a defined circulation around a central point? Is this not a sign of a tropical disturbance, if not depression? Why isn't the NHC seemingly interested in this? Also, i the remnants of Agatha DO develop into a tropical this or that, do they keep the name Agatha or do they change it to Alex? Anyone know?


There is a small and tight LLC but its collapsing. What your seeing is the LLC with a trough extending SSW of there to Belize. Chances of development is 10%... this will continue to weaken and move NNE into the eastern gulf where strong 30kt winds will shear any chance that this has for development. The weak trough will enhance rainfall over Florida on Thurs into Friday.
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Quoting Ocean24:
Does it move it northward afterwards, Drak?
Nope, it just goes straight into Central America.
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panamainian low,isn't that a common occurance this time of year?????
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Quoting highndry1:
So, is it just me, or has the remnants of Agatha gained a defined circulation around a central point? Is this not a sign of a tropical disturbance, if not depression? Why isn't the NHC seemingly interested in this? Also, i the remnants of Agatha DO develop into a tropical this or that, do they keep the name Agatha or do they change it to Alex? Anyone know?


It would be designated TD 01L and then Alex if it strengthens into a tropical storm.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
make that is getting established(outflow) based on that wv loop...
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Quoting Ocean24:
Where is the Nogaps developing it, Drak?

North of Panama
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30841
So, is it just me, or has the remnants of Agatha gained a defined circulation around a central point? Is this not a sign of a tropical disturbance, if not depression? Why isn't the NHC seemingly interested in this? Also, i the remnants of Agatha DO develop into a tropical this or that, do they keep the name Agatha or do they change it to Alex? Anyone know?
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Quoting Drakoen:
If you look east of the convection you can see arc bands of low level cloudiness. There is some inflow going on.




and some strong out flow could get established to the north,the slower 91L advects north the more air in the ULL to its north w/be resulting in stregthening and at the moment alomst perfect condition out side of any land interaction...
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422. WAHA
Quoting atmoaggie:
New Orleans paper's take on the upcoming season:

Refering to the oil spill, maybe.
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Happy Memorial Day, everyone. God bless those that gave all, and those who've served and currently serving.


The disturbance in the nwest Caribbean is looking fairly impressive. It's over 29-30 temps, lower shear in the present and building convection. There appears to be some rotation as well.

I'm with some of the other commentary here. It looks like, and quacking like a duck. Even if it's only short-lived, this has TD, possible TS written all over it. It should already be declared in invest and likely classified as a TD.
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Quoting Ocean24:


how awesome. im jealous, lol
Lol.
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418. Skyepony (Mod)
The anticylone proved fickle but is beginning to favor Ex-Agatha again. Neat outflow coming from the EPAC side & where the old low died. Maybe slightly disruptive as it passes.
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Quoting Ocean24:


which one?
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.
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Quoting StormW:
Hey 456!


Greetings commander in chief. Hope you guys are enjoying your holiday weekend or what's left of it.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
New Orleans paper's take on the upcoming season:


lol...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30841
412. WAHA
If you look at the most recent loops, you should see from up close that ex-agatha's upper divergence is rapidly growing.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
New Orleans paper's take on the upcoming season:
LOL!
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Quoting Drakoen:
NOGAPS 12z still expects something to develop in the southern Caribbean


Yup, from the wave over Venezuela interacting with a newly-reforming monsoon trough near Panama. I think development on the Pacific side may be more likely, but I will be keeping a close eye on it.

From my blog this morning:



"A tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean will be interacting with the re-forming monsoon trough near Panama in 3-5 days, and may try to cause tropical mischief either north or south of that country. Development is more likely to occur in the eastern Pacific, but the area will be monitored."
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
New Orleans paper's take on the upcoming season:
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Marco 2008

LOL

smallest storm in the atlantic basin.(2008 boc)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
NOGAPS 12z still expects something to develop in the southern Caribbean
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30841
Quoting Drakoen:
TPC 24 hour forecast still expects it to be around the same general area tomorrow morning:



Maps are generally off by 12-18hrs
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'm in one of the NOAA buildings right now, pretty cool.
My bad I quoted Weather456. About the surface analysis, exactly what I was saying.
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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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