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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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
Quoting WAHA:
It looks a lor like ex-Agatha is strengthening to me. But it also looks like it will travel into the Yucatan peninsula (or at least come close)


Its current motion will take it right over Isla de Cozumel. However, if the system feeds back and strengthens, it may feel more of the mid-level steering and veer east a hair, staying farther away from the Yucatan coast.

We should get a good radar shot of it from Cancun radar later.
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Quoting gordydunnot:
I don't think anyone here in fl. is getting excited, the Accu weather post someone made earlier looks spot on. We are not the ones that beat 90l to death. We just have a interest in the tropics. The egos on this blog crack me up.


Ahmen.......90L was over hyped something crazy like.....
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
This whole BP thing is a joke. The best and brightest minds have no common sence. Just lower and ten foot wide weighted ring over the leak. Have a 5000 ft nylon tube attached to it with a floatation ring attached at the top.
Then maybe a light bulb will go on in those BP heads and they will pump all the oil from one spot as it rises up the tube to the collection
ring!!!
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Looks like it's going to be a close call whether or not we get an ASCAT pass
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Hmmm, weak east-southeastward steering, interesting.
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293. beell
Quoting Levi32:


The 12z vorticity maps made me wonder about that too, but with the surface center reforming to the east, the 850mb vort max should follow suit on ensuing maps. They could still de-couple, but supposing positive feedback sets in and the low deepens, the mid-level steering may take over and it won't be a problem for the surface center.


Quoting Drakoen:
Not enough shear in the mid levels from 650mb-900mb to convince me of decoupling:



Maybe so, guys. Thought it was worth a mention. But it won't take much southwesterly flow to decouple in an environment that may not be the best for deep convection. Appears to shedding outflows already.

Link
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292. WAHA
It looks a lor like ex-Agatha is strengthening to me. But it also looks like it will travel into the Yucatan peninsula (or at least come close)
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I don't think anyone here in fl. is getting excited, the Accu weather post someone made earlier looks spot on. We are not the ones that beat 90l to death. We just have a interest in the tropics. The egos on this blog crack me up.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
here is enhance water vapour up to 1210pmedt




Northward movement is evident. Can anyone post the steering? Now that the low has a pressure of 1010 MB it might be feeling the steering effects.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
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!
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Quoting Levi32:


I don't mean to offend, but it is pretty obvious that you guys touting "low shear in the gulf" are overly-excited to get hit by a storm. That is a feeling I can understand, believe me....I cheer on snowstorms every winter here.

Try not to let that get in the way of your objectivity. It can be a problem. You are correct about the wind shear trend over the past 24 hours, but what about the next 24? Take a deeper look into it.


Bro read what i said, i said a small window of opportunity from Tampa South with lower shear of possibly 20kts. Just what i see. We both know very well Shear Forecast is only good at best for 24-36hrs out and even 12 hours is only really good.
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After listening to the "Hurricane Haven" with Dr. Jeff Masters at 4pm ET

Don't forget

The Barometer Bob Show
Hurricane Hollow's Eye on the Storm, Beginning of the 2010 Hurricane Season Broadcast
Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 8PM/ET
My guests will be Brian Lamarre, MIC/NWS/Tampa and Gene Hafele, MIC/NWS/Houston. We will be discussing the 2010 Hurricane Season. Get Ready Now, it's not IF but WHEN a hurricane will affect you!
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here is enhance water vapour up to 1210pmedt




Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
GFS analysis shows a nice amount of Cape north of Honduras this morning:

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Quoting clwstmchasr:
Before anyone here in Florida gets worried(excited) about the possibility of a Tropical Storm you need to look at one map - and that is the one that shows wind shear.

The subtropical jet is still screaming across the Southern Gulf with winds over 50kts. This will kill the possibility of a storm track north into the Gulf. Can moisture make it into Florida? Absolutely. Depending on what happens, we could see an increase in moisture by late Tuesday or Wednesday across south and central Florida.


Doubt this gets a name as well, but a depression is likely by 5am tomorrow morning.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Thats pretty lame of you to suggest i use Tampa as a place of reference because i live there.....NICE!


I don't mean to offend, but it is pretty obvious that you guys touting "low shear in the gulf" are overly-excited to get hit by a storm. That is a feeling I can understand, believe me....I cheer on snowstorms every winter here.

Try not to let that get in the way of your objectivity. It can be a problem. You are correct about the wind shear trend over the past 24 hours, but what about the next 24? Take a deeper look into it.
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Not enough shear in the mid levels from 650mb-900mb to convince me of decoupling:

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Quoting Ocean24:


So then wind shear wise, the system is in overall good stance, FOR NOW?


I would call it "fair", which is much better than it was yesterday. With upper divergence over the low, wind shear should not be too huge of a problem where it's at right now, but it may try to punch in some dry air from the west, which may end up being an inhibiting factor later on.
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Quoting beell:
xAgatha looks like a good candidate for a decoupling of the low and mid levels.



The 12z vorticity maps made me wonder about that too, but with the surface center reforming to the east, the 850mb vort max should follow suit on ensuing maps. They could still de-couple, but supposing positive feedback sets in and the low deepens, the mid-level steering may take over and it won't be a problem for the surface center.
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Quoting Levi32:


Oh obviously....since you live there lol.

Shear has weakened over the gulf yes but from 60 knots to 40 knots, and it won't go any lower than that. How do I know that? Because the subtropical jet hasn't moved, just weakened. The reason shear is less than yesterday is because the resistance along the subtropical jet in the gulf isn't as strong as it was yesterday with the upper features, but that doesn't mean the jet is just going to slow down to 10 knots. No, it's staying put....the trend of -20 knots the past 24 hours is not going to continue. Just look at the models.

Even beyond the models, satellite imagery reveals no upper feature that could cut open the subtropical jet within the next few days.



Thats pretty lame of you to suggest i use Tampa as a place of reference because i live there.....NICE!
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Quoting beell:
xAgatha looks like a good candidate for a decoupling of the low and mid levels.

cut its own head off
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
269. beell
xAgatha looks like a good candidate for a decoupling of the low and mid levels.

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Quoting Ocean24:
Levi, how much shear if any, is presently affecting the system? Thanks in advance.


There appears to be 10-15 knots over the exact center of the system. There is anywhere from 5-20 knots affecting the entire system, increasing as you travel northward.

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Quoting StormW:


Yea..I can hear Beven now!!! LOL!

Jack might be over here visiting his parents in BR...a reasonable guess, anyway.
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There is a very tight weak low within the MLC. This should weaken within the next 12-24hrs. This is mostly a trough of lower pressure and infact pressures are slowly rising. Chance of development is under 10%
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Quoting Ocean24:
The NHC will look for persistence.
Exactly.
Quoting StormW:


Yea..I can hear Beven now!!! LOL!
LOL!!
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This thing only has a chance in the Caribbean and only the Caribbean. Subtropical jet will shear through it if it invades into the GOM:

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Impressive

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Looks like a minus 20 to me on that wind shear map in the gulf.
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Quoting StormW:


Yea..I can hear Beven now!!! LOL!


LOL
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I'll take that back by the time anything happens everyone will be on the way home anyway.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey guys new surface map is out and we have a low in the gulf of honduras



We might have an invest within 24 hours if can work on satellite presentation.
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Goodnight all. stay safe.
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Quoting TampaSpin:




LOOK inbetween the 2 areas of higher shear....shear is dropping between the 2 as the graphic show.....that is the window i have been talking about as shear could drop to 20kts from the Tampa South.....anything above Tampa will be into higher Shear


Oh obviously....since you live there lol.

Shear has weakened over the gulf yes but from 60 knots to 40 knots, and it won't go any lower than that. How do I know that? Because the subtropical jet hasn't moved, just weakened. The reason shear is less than yesterday is because the resistance along the subtropical jet in the gulf isn't as strong as it was yesterday with the upper features, but that doesn't mean the jet is just going to slow down to 10 knots. No, it's staying put....the trend of -20 knots the past 24 hours is not going to continue. Just look at the models.

Even beyond the models, satellite imagery reveals no upper feature that could cut open the subtropical jet within the next few days.

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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Well I doubt there would be a TWO for this yet.
I agree, it still needs to work on satellite presentation, which at the moment isn't good.
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101:to High for development,yea probably..however a stregthening TC could withstand 20kts!!!and if it was in the right area it could help to evacuate the ULL stregthening it before it moves further north into the STS and sheers it completely
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hey guys new surface map is out and we have a low in the gulf of honduras



Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12716

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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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