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 beell:
Drak, Levi,
What are the chances of decoupling when it moves into the jet?


Lol, 100%
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348. kingy
looks to me like methane is leaking from a bolt on the riser ! The whole thing is leaking.

the oil plume is incredible
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Quoting beell:
Drak, Levi,
What are the chances of decoupling when it moves into the jet?


100%
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. All most all systems that form this time of year are do to stalled fronts or troughs. The reason we don't get more systems is the upper level isn't conducive at this time. If we were going to use upper level as a guide we could probably blow off the month of June.Imo I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.
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Quoting scottsvb:
I already stated it has a tight weak low but pressures are rising in the NW carribean. I would love for this thing to become a named system. Just it wont happen.Only chance is before the 5pm update but as we go into tonight and by Tuesday. It just wont happen unless God does something about it.
Could it be that Ex-Agathas circulation is riding the coast and the storms are off to the east?
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They're live-blogging the ROV work over at The Oil Drum.
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342. beell
Drak, Levi,
What are the chances of decoupling when it moves into the jet?
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Quoting IKE:
Maybe the small size of Ex-Agatha is why the models are having a hard time picking it up.

Latest GFS seems to carry the moisture toward the central- peninsula of Florida.


At this point it looks like nothing other than mositure is in store for southern peninsula.
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I fully expect a TWO to be issued on this disturbance soon. If one isn't, well then that's just pretty dumb. There should have been at least a yellow circle on this before now.
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339. IKE
Maybe the small size of Ex-Agatha is why the models are having a hard time picking it up.

Latest GFS seems to carry the moisture toward the central-peninsula of Florida.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
I already stated it has a tight weak low but pressures are rising in the NW carribean. I would love for this thing to become a named system. Just it wont happen.Only chance is before the 5pm update but as we go into tonight and by Tuesday. It just wont happen unless God does something about it.
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Quoting JamesSA:
There is plenty of bad to say about BP in general, but I have to hand it to the engineers operating the ROV's for their skill.

It looks like they are cutting off all the brackets and extraneous hardware around the riser in preparation for cutting it. That is guaranteed to be interesting!

The guys that operate the ROV units are super-skilled man.
Respect to them.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24390
Marco on rainbow imagery:

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Marco 2008

LOL



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Quoting tramp96:
Does it move north in the summer or fluctuate back and forth?


During the spring the subtropical jet starts to retreat north. In July wind shear starts to drop below 20 knots on average in the Gulf of Mexico. By the peak of the season, August-September, the subtropical jet largely dissappears in the western Atlantic Basin, and is only found in the central-eastern Atlantic associated with the TUTT. Weak upper winds, favorable for tropical development, usually dominate in the Caribbean, GOM, and SW Atlantic during the peak of the season.

200mb wind climatology for August-September:

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Quoting MZV:
General blog question: Why do people appear as a name only, and you have to unclick them to read their comments? I think I've only marked a few people as "hide" that were annoying. Is there some kind of collective "blog logic" that automatically puts additional people into "hide mode"?
Change your filter settings .. Located at the top right of the comment section on each page..
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Despite being small, Marco had an extremely well-defined circulation center.
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I see some turning.
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Quoting swatkins:


Could you tell me where you are finding this information? Are there any camara feeds I could watch?
Link
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Quoting swatkins:


Could you tell me where you are finding this information? Are there any camara feeds I could watch?


Live video link from the ROV monitoring the damaged riser
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Quoting swatkins:


Could you tell me where you are finding this information? Are there any camara feeds I could watch?
I just watched them cut off a bracket and carry it away.. BP's live feed... Link
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Quoting MZV:
General blog question: Why do people appear as a name only, and you have to unclick them to read their comments? I think I've only marked a few people as "hide" that were annoying. Is there some kind of collective "blog logic" that automatically puts additional people into "hide mode"?
at top of page of comments to the right is filter set it to show all no more hiding
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Quoting Drakoen:


I was thinking the same thinking too. Even though it is small, it does appear to have a closed low. Looks like a Marco (2008) type cyclone.
I agree.
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Quoting Ocean24:


It looks ince on satelliate, Levi.
How long do they need?
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Here's what Marco (2008) looked like

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Quoting Levi32:
To be honest, if the surface circulation is closed, which it does appear to be, this system already looks like a tropical depression to me. The NHC, however, will want more persistence. It has only been 6 hours since the convective blow-up and center relocation.



I was thinking the same thinking too. Even though it is small, it does appear to have a closed low. Looks like a Marco (2008) type cyclone.
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Quoting Levi32:
To be honest, if the surface circulation is closed, which it does appear to be, this system already looks like a tropical depression to me. The NHC, however, will want more persistence. It has only been 6 hours since the convective blow-up and center relocation.
I agree, it needs more persistance. If convection stays the way it is for another 6 to 9 hours we might have a TD by NHC standards late this evening.
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Quoting JamesSA:
There is plenty of bad to say about BP in general, but I have to hand it to the engineers operating the ROV's for their skill.

It looks like they are cutting off all the brackets and extraneous hardware around the riser in preparation for cutting it. That is guaranteed to be interesting!


Could you tell me where you are finding this information? Are there any camara feeds I could watch?
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That blob of convection has been going on for at least 7 hours now! Doesnt that mean something for developement?
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317. MZV
General blog question: Why do people appear as a name only, and you have to unclick them to read their comments? I think I've only marked a few people as "hide" that were annoying. Is there some kind of collective "blog logic" that automatically puts additional people into "hide mode"?
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Quoting Levi32:


It will remain firmly entrenched over the Gulf of Mexico for at least the next 5 days. The upper ridge expanding north over the western Caribbean will provide a marginally favorable environment, but it's very hostile in the gulf.
Does it move north in the summer or fluctuate back and forth?
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Quoting scottsvb:
lol We are soo wanting a tropical storm in the atlantic, thinking of all these possibilities of hoping this thing forms. Chances are under 10%.. its a trough that is weakening. Pressures are rising. All this will be is a weak trough enhancing T-Storms over Florida later on Thursday into Friday. This is almost like Dumb and Dumber.. under 10% chance... so it does it have a chance? Ok yeah
What are you talking about? This is a 1010 MB low that is improving on satellite imagery and could become an invest at any time past the 12 hour time frame. Once it gets into the GOM is when it's game over but for the time being it has a chance. I'm going with a moderate chance of this becoming a TD.
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To be honest, if the surface circulation is closed, which it does appear to be, this system already looks like a tropical depression to me. The NHC, however, will want more persistence. It has only been 6 hours since the convective blow-up and center relocation.

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Scottsvb......it appears to be seperating from the trough tho...does it not?
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Quoting scottsvb:
lol We are soo wanting a tropical storm in the atlantic, thinking of all these possibilities of hoping this thing forms. Chances are under 10%.. its a trough that is weakening. Pressures are rising. All this will be is a weak trough enhancing T-Storms over Florida later on Thursday into Friday. This is almost like Dumb and Dumber.. under 10% chance... so it does it have a chance? Ok yeah


you are correct about the Trough as it is at the tail of one that extends to the far reaches of the NE Atlantic......but, only 10%? HUM
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Several other discussions provide a chance for development, none give it "NO" chance.

Here is one.

http://www.crownweather.com/?page_id=325
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Quoting tramp96:
So what happens to the subtropical jet stream? Does it go north or just disappear and when?


It will remain firmly entrenched over the Gulf of Mexico for at least the next 5 days. The upper ridge expanding north over the western Caribbean will provide a marginally favorable environment, but it's very hostile in the gulf.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Looks like it's going to be a close call whether or not we get an ASCAT pass
It's going to be down to the wire, please post it because I'm on my phone and it makes it hard to access that stuff.
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I wish BP the best on there latest endeavor for all of our sakes, but I can not bear to watch anymore.
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So what happens to the subtropical jet stream? Does it go north or just disappear and when?
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lol We are soo wanting a tropical storm in the atlantic, thinking of all these possibilities of hoping this thing forms. Chances are under 10%.. its a trough that is weakening. Pressures are rising. All this will be is a weak trough enhancing T-Storms over Florida later on Thursday into Friday. This is almost like Dumb and Dumber.. under 10% chance... so it does it have a chance? Ok yeah
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302. MZV
Shear doesn't necessarily shred shallow systems, so I could see ex-Agatha surviving for a while. But the amount of Dry air in the Gulf in another problem to face, as it moves north of the Yucutan.

I could see this limping along as a TD or small TS but the conditions are generally hostile to more development.
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this storm will go where it wants to go regardless of maps and predictions. i remember a little storm last season that proved everyone wrong. i think it was Erika or something. that storm would die and come back again. that storm fooled and frankly irritated everyone. no one can truly predict where these storm will go. its all just a guessing game.
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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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