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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Shear actually doesn't look that strong, where Ex-Agatha is heading.



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Quoting weathermanwannabe:


I was actually referrring to the "entire" season and not the "tiny" blob trying to get a groove on to make TD status on the first Day...... :)


Yeah that was my bad lol sorry.
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Quoting Levi32:


Nothing about this is going to be a nightmare. The thing will die in the gulf, no matter what it does in the Caribbean.


I was actually referrring to the "entire" season and not the "tiny" blob trying to get a groove on to make TD status on the first Day...... :)
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Quoting Drakoen:


I pretty sure he was talking about hurricane season lol


Oh, my bad....lol.
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Quoting Levi32:


Nothing about this is going to be a nightmare. The thing will die in the gulf, no matter what it does in the Caribbean.


I'm pretty sure he was talking about hurricane season lol
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
I am wondering, if "Alex" moves toward South Florida Key West area, what will be the direction of the surface winds over the oil slick?
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Defintely and Invest coming really soon!
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:


Day 1 of what will probably be a looong nightmare unfortunately......


Nothing about this is going to be a nightmare. The thing will die in the gulf, no matter what it does in the Caribbean.
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Funny I asked storm W about 2 weeks before Marco formed how small did he think a Storm could be. And low and behold came Marco.
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I know most, as well as I, think chances are slim in the gulf but, so was the chance for there even to be a low, let alone this morning. I never discount anything. Will it be ripped apart, more than likely but, maybe not. The tropics can throw you for a loop sometimes and Agatha is taking advantage, that's for sure.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
NOW WHAT IS TOMORROW......Geesh.....wouldn't you know.


Day 1 of what will probably be a looong nightmare unfortunately......
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thanks for the cookie,but no milk???....Alex comin to KW wed????,
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Quoting gordydunnot:
LinkThere is the link


Thanks! Looks very impressive. It looks to be moving fairly slowly, about as slow as when it was Agatha. (NE maybe at 4-5 mph?)
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A teeny thing it is. Reminds me of Marco.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting atmoaggie:

Kinda a long ways off, but could be.


Based on this, I'm willing to believe that is part of the circulation.
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The center appears to be farther north than I had it, closer to 18.2N. This is more under the deep convection.
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Loop
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Quoting Levi32:
Westerly surface wind being reported at Roatan Island , north of the coast of Honduras.



Kinda a long ways off, but could be.
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LinkThere is the link for visible floater.
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Quoting Levi32:
New surface analysis has a low:



Now we have to wait for it to get organized... at acquire the name "Alex." :D
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I'm thinking a good chance that this area becomes the first TD of the year in the atlantic,lokking real good on the ramdis vis loop I'd say TD before the 11pm tonight!!!
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176. Skyepony (Mod)
Thanks for updating on a holiday.. I'm not really buying the bizzare coincidence, volcanoes erupting seem fairly common with tropical disturbances when the opportunity comes together. Maybe it's the extreme atmospheric lift taking pressure off the volcano while the vibrations of the wind & rain beat the mountain.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
New surface analysis has a low:

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NOW WHAT IS TOMORROW......Geesh.....wouldn't you know.
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Quoting Drakoen:
There is a low pressure center based on the surface observations.



Yes, the obs are coming in one by one.
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Quoting BenBIogger:



Enjoy!


Delicious! :P
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Quoting gordydunnot:
The visible in motion is getting more interesting by the 1/2 hour.


Do you have a link? Thanks.
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Quoting Levi32:
Westerly surface wind being reported at Roatan Island , north of the coast of Honduras.




Now that is new and is some of what I was waiting to see.
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There is a low pressure center based on the surface observations.

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30489
Quoting stillwaiting:
I believe I was the first to point out aggies low along belizes' coast yestereday on radar,and some doubted it!!!****pats self on back,steps off soapbox****;)



Enjoy!
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The visible in motion is getting more interesting by the 1/2 hour.
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Good Morning.....Just a quick spot check.....Happy Memorial Day to all of the Veterans and their families who participate on the Blog......Sad news out there in terms of victims from Agatha and the Oil spill for the Gulf....Gotta go; in Miami and heading back to Tallahassee this afternoon......Will "see" everyone tommorow.......WW
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Heh, look at it again, newly updated. Another low pressure center coming by? No...
Yeah I saw it. Forget about that station.
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Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11158
Quoting Levi32:
Westerly surface wind being reported at Roatan Island , north of the coast of Honduras.




north of the coast of Honduras.... ....at 6 kt. :o
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Quoting kmanhurricaneman:
actually tampa this was my prediction from yesterday, i didnt want to bring it up makes sound as if i am blowing my own horn if you know what i mean.


Not gonna get into patting who......but, REad my blog!...LOL..
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Quoting stillwaiting:
I believe I was the first to point out aggies low along belizes' coast yestereday on radar,and some doubted it!!!****pats self on back,steps off soapbox****;)


Congrats on spotting your first blob.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Lol, I agree.

Heh, look at it again, newly updated. Another low pressure center coming by? No...
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Does anyone have an animated satelite image for the disturbance that was Agatha?

-Snowlover123
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Westerly surface wind being reported at Roatan Island , north of the coast of Honduras.


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actually tampa this was my prediction from yesterday, i didnt want to bring it up makes sound as if i am blowing my own horn if you know what i mean.
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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
This shows there is at least an area of Winds above 25 m/h. This is in knots. The yellow shows about 23 knots, which is near 30 m/h.



Then again, most of the system isn't in this view.


Maximum shear according to that image looks to be around 19 kts.

-Snowlover123
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Quoting kmanislander:


That converts to 1001 mb which is tropical storm strength. Something is wrong with that reading.
Very odd I have to say.
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Quoting Levi32:


Yet, I must stress, will die in the GOM.


I disagree with you! A window of 20knt is coming for a short period of time i believe!
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Quoting stillwaiting:
sheer in the GOM is dropping and could drop as low as20kts in the SE portion over the next 24-48hrs


No. The subtropical jet is not leaving.

48 hours:

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Quoting atmoaggie:

Sorry, but everything about that ob site looks suspicious...
Lol, I agree.
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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.