TD 16 organizing; Mexican landslide kills hundreds; hottest day ever in Los Angeles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:25 PM GMT on September 28, 2010

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The large area of low pressure centered just south of Cuba's Isle of Youth has developed enough of a well-defined circulation to be classified as Tropical Depression Sixteen, and is likely to become Tropical Storm Nicole by Wednesday. The depression has a very broad center, with little heavy thunderstorm activity near the center, and is this very dissimilar to the usual types of tropical depressions we see in the Atlantic. The large size, broad center, and lack of heavy thunderstorm activity near the center of TD 16 will limit the storm's ability to rapidly intensify. TD 16 resembles the "monsoon depressions" common in India's Bay of Bengal or the Western Pacific. A monsoon depression is similar to a regular tropical depression in the winds that it generates--about 30 - 35 mph near the outer edges (and usually stronger on the eastern side of the circulation.) Monsoon depressions have large, calm centers, and can evolve into regular tropical storms, if given enough time over water to develop a tight, closed circulation. Today's monsoon-like depression in the Caribbean was able to form because the atmospheric flow pattern of the Eastern Pacific has shifted eastwards into the Western Caribbean, bringing in the Eastern Pacific ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone, a region of converging surface winds that creates a band of strong thunderstorms). This unusual flow pattern is forecast to remain in place for at least the next ten days.

An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft has been flying at 700 feet in TD 16 since 1:30pm EDT, and has thus far found a central pressure of 999 mb. The strongest winds at flight level seen as of 3:20pm EDT were 32 mph, located about 100 miles east of the center of TD 16. Surface observations show that the strongest winds at any surface station continue to be at Buoy 42057, several hundred miles to the southeast of TD 16's center. Winds were 27 mph, gusting to 34 mph at 2:43pm EDT this afternoon. Rotation of TD 16 can be seen on radar loops out of Pico San Juan, Cuba, and well as satellite imagery. The heavy thunderstorms are currently quite disorganized, but a curved band is beginning to wrap around the north side of the center, signaling that TD 16 is growing more organized. TD 16 has brought torrential rains to the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Cuba, and Honduras today.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation for South Florida and Cuba. TD 16 has brought 2 - 4 inches of rains to the region.

Forecast for TD 16
Because TD 16 is so large, it will take more time than a typical depression for it to spin up into a strong tropical storm. Given that the steering currents are expected to pull TD 16 north-northeastwards over Cuba and into South Florida and the western Bahamas on Wednesday, the storm lacks sufficient time over water to be any stronger than a 50 mph tropical storm for Florida. TD 16 is organizing pretty slowly this afternoon, and I think the top winds in Southeast Florida are most likely to be in the 25 - 35 mph range on Wednesday. Winds are likely to be stronger in the western Bahamas, perhaps 30 - 40 mph, since they will be in the stronger right front quadrant of the storm. By the time TD 16 makes landfall in South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday morning, it could be as strong as a 50 - 60 mph tropical storm. However, wind shear will increase sharply on Thursday as TD 16 gets caught in an upper-level trough of low pressure, and NHC is giving TD 16 only a 9% chance of making it to hurricane strength before it becomes an extratropical storm on Thursday. The primary danger from TD 16 is not wind, but heavy rainfall. A potent upper-level low and stationary front over the U.S. East Coast have been pulling moist, tropical air from the Caribbean northwards over the past few days, bringing heavy rains that have saturated the soils. This is called a Predecessor Rain Event, or PRE, since it comes in advance of the actual rain shield of the storm. (A PRE from Hurricane Karl brought southern Wisconsin the heavy rain that caused the levee on the Wisconsin River to fail yesterday.) Wilmington, NC received 10.33 inches of rain yesterday, its second greatest one-day rainfall since record keeping began in 1871. Only the 13.38" that fell during Hurricane Floyd on September 15, 1999 beat yesterday's rainfall total. With TD 16 expected to bring another 6 - 8 inches of rain to the region later this week, serious flooding is likely, and flash flood watches are posted for the North Carolina/ South Carolina border region. South Florida is also under a flood watch, for 3 - 5 inches of rain. Flooding rains of similar magnitude can also be expected in Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Western Bahamas through Wednesday night. Both the GFDL and HWRF models are predicting that TD 16 will dump rains in excess of eight inches along narrow portions of its path in eastern Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina.


Figure 2. Forecast precipitation for the 5-day period from 8am today through 8am EDT Sunday, October 3, 2010. Image credit: NOAA Hydrometeorological Prediction Center.

Up to 1,000 feared dead in Mexican landslide
Mexico has taken the brunt of the devastation from the hurricane season of 2010, thanks to the landfalls of this year's two deadliest and most damaging storms, Hurricanes Alex and Karl. But Mexico's worst blow yet hit this morning, when heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Matthew triggered a landslide in Mexico's mountainous Oaxaca state that buried as many as 1,000 people in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, a town of 9,000. Rescuers have not reached the area yet, but hundreds are feared dead in the 300 homes that were buried by the early morning landslide. Matthew hit Belize on Saturday as a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds, and dissipated Sunday over southern Mexico. However, Matthew's remains stalled out over the region of Mexico that had already received torrential rains from Hurricane Karl, which hit on September 18. Satellite estimates of Matthew's rains over southern Mexico (Figure 3) show that a foot of rain may have fallen in the landslide area. Matthew's remains still linger over the region, but are probably only capable of bringing 1 - 2 inches of additional rain through Thursday.


Figure 3. Satellite-estimated rainfall for the five-day period ending at 8pm EDT Monday September 27, 2010. The dark green colors show where rainfall amounts of 300 mm (about 12 inches) fell, due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Matthew. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Elsewhere in the tropics
Once TD 16 moves out of the Caribbean, the GFS model predicts that the Western Caribbean will "reload" and produce another tropical disturbance capable of developing into a tropical depression early next week. The GFS also predicts a tropical or subtropical storm will form over the Bahamas late this week, and move north-northeast along the U.S. East Coast, missing hitting land. The NOGAPS model hints at the Bahamas storm, and also predicts development of a tropical wave a few hundred miles northeast of the Lesser Antilles Islands, about a week from now.

Hottest day in Los Angeles history
The mercury hit a blistering 113°F (45.0°C) at 12:15 pm PDT yesterday in downtown Los Angeles, making it the hottest day in Los Angeles history. It may have gotten hotter, but the thermometer broke shortly after the record high was set. The previous record in Los Angeles was 112°F set on June 26, 1990; records go back to 1877. Nearby Long Beach tied its hottest all-time temperature yesterday, with a scorching 111°F. And Christopher C. Burt, our new featured blogger on weather records, pointed out to me that a station in the foothills at 1260' elevation near Beverly Hills owned by the Los Angeles Fire Department hit 119°F yesterday--the hottest temperature ever measured in the Los Angeles area, tying the 119°F reading from Woodland Hills on July 22, 2006. Yesterday's record heat was caused by an unusually large and intense upper-level high pressure system centered over Nevada that generated winds blowing from the land to the ocean, keeping the ocean from exerting its usual cooling influence. Remarkably, Los Angeles had its second coldest summer on record this year, and temperatures just five days ago were some the coldest September temperatures in the region for the past 50 years.

The remarkable summer of 2010
Wunderground is pleased to welcome a new featured blogger--weather historian Christopher C. Burt. Chris is a leading expert in the U.S. on weather records, and is author of the world's most popular weather records book published to date, Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book. He's spent a lifetime collaborating with like-minded individuals from around the world, and no one--including official sources such as the National Climatic Data Center and the National Extremes Committee--has done as thorough a job correlating the various weather records available and determining the most accurate extreme values of such. Each month he'll be reporting on the notable records for heat, cold, and precipitation set world-wide, and his first post takes a look at the remarkable summer of 2010. It's great to have someone like Chris who stays on top of weather extremes, and I hope you'll pay a visit to his blog and welcome him to the wunderground site!

"Hurricane Haven" airing this afternoon
My live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", will be airing again today at 4pm EDT. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question to broadcast@wunderground.com. Be sure to include "Hurricane Haven question" in the subject line.

Today's show will be about 30 minutes, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

I'll have updates as the situation with TD 16 requires.

Jeff Masters

Alone again, naturally (ftogrf)
Lonely Seagull, as a storm associated with TD 16 is approaching.
Alone again, naturally

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Quoting Bordonaro:

Oh, you can always use an old coffee can in case your rain gauge messes up. Not being sarcastic, you can get a pretty close idea of how much rain has fallen that way.


The catchment cone was overflowing when I cleared a seed from it this morning so would guess a couple of inches easy in it then.
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1483. will40
it will definately need some help right above Cuba theres some pretty strong shear
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Quoting uncwhurricane85:


you aint kiddin! im in wilmington too, up near UNCW campus...it was a huge tar water park with 1000 cars yesterday, i expect nothing less tomorrow.


Ya man, if you live near campus - or on racine - than you already know you live in Lake Wilmington. Stay high and dry friend.
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Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:
The tributaries have been dammed up,


That isn't good.
How sturdy are these dams?
Just sayin'...
;-)
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 856
1480. MZT
Quoting kmanislander:


I seriously doubt that. What if it blows up after crossing Cuba and then catches everyone off guard ?. I doubt they would run that risk unless the data was absolutely unequivocal, which it isn't.
Yeah, they tend to hold on to classifications once in place. Remember all the jokes here about "naked swirl" Chris a few years ago.
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Quoting kmanislander:


I lost some data between midnight and about 7 this morning due to a blocked catchment bucket but since then I have recorded 2 inches and the rain rate right now is 2.48 inches an hour. It is bucketing down now.

I would estimate close to 5 inches the past 48 hours.

Oh, you can always use an old coffee can in case your rain gauge messes up. Not being sarcastic, you can get a pretty close idea of how much rain has fallen that way.
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1478. wxhatt
Quoting pottery:
Anyone have a report from a station in Western Jamaica?
Rainfall looks like it could be a Big prob. there.

Bad news from Mexico too.......


No, but they are stuck under that heavy convection all day and still not out of the woods!
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Quoting kmanislander:


I seriously doubt that. What if it blows up after crossing Cuba and then catches everyone off guard ?. I doubt they would run that risk unless the data was absolutely unequivocal, which it isn't.


I understand that part... but that's what was being discussed on here last night... how the NHC won't just name something based on just to keep people aware...

I'm sure you're right, though. Was just wondering. Thanks!
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1475. pottery
Quoting CosmicEvents:
Have we had any reports from bloggers in Jamaica?
Looks like they're getting the worst of "it".

None that I have seen.
Cant find a weather station in West Jamaica myself..

anyone????
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Quoting Bordonaro:

How much rain has TD 16/huge honking monsoonal Low dropped over your area the last 2 days?

When it starts raining arks, or the animals start a new ark factory, start worrying :O)!!


I lost some data between midnight and about 7 this morning due to a blocked catchment bucket but since then I have recorded 2 inches and the rain rate right now is 2.48 inches an hour. It is bucketing down now.

I would estimate close to 5 inches the past 48 hours.
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Quoting kmanislander:


I seriously doubt that. What if it blows up after crossing Cuba and then catches everyone off guard ?. I doubt they would run that risk unless the data was absolutely unequivocal, which it isn't.


Seems that is the general idea, 18ZGFDL still showing 67kts at landfall, organizing after Cuba.

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This is not exactly good news. I live in an area where all the homes are less than ten years old, and was built on a swamp. The worst flooding happened back in 1999 with hurricane Floyd. IN other words, this new development has never really been tested. The tributaries have been dammed up, and while runoff has been adequately diverted underground, we still see water rise close to the roads with only a few inches of rain.

Before this is all over, I may be looking for higher ground.

If I'm not heard from again, I'll be in the belly of the beast.

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1471. 2ifbyC
Well, got in to Big Pine Key 'bout 7:30 PM to button up the trailer. So far just a nice breeze with no rain thus far. The wind is just starting to pick up a bit with a smattering of drizzle.

Drove through three frog stranglers on the way down from Bradenton; Port Charlotte, west Miami and into Key Largo.

Just checked the radar... ummm... red band heading this way. Guess I'll roll up the awning just prior to its arrival.

Ya'll stay dry or duck!
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Quoting IceSlater:
Does anyone think the NHC will say at 11pm that this is not even a depression anymore?


I don't think we'll see that, but the way things have been this year?
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Quoting zoomiami:
One of my concerns is that the storms this year have gone from almost dead or written off to organization in short period of times. That TD16 looks bad tonight, doesn't follow that it will look like that tomorrow afternoon.
Hey, zoo. Good point here. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up tomorrow to something that actually looks like a TC, with potentially higher winds as a result. NOT what any of us need. The rain is likely going to be bad enough...
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Have we had any reports from bloggers in Jamaica?
Looks like they're getting the worst of "it".
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Quoting IceSlater:
Does anyone think the NHC will say at 11pm that this is not even a depression anymore?


I seriously doubt that. What if it blows up after crossing Cuba and then catches everyone off guard ?. I doubt they would run that risk unless the data was absolutely unequivocal, which it isn't.
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1466. Seastep
Quoting CaptnDan142:
Did they fly the mission at their normal altitude? Just wondering if maybe the surface pressures are interpolated, and the wrong flight altitude got entered?


They are extrapolated. They were flying at 700ft.

Believe said extrapolation was off. No other explanation.

Wish NHC would actually look at multiple surface obs as the plane is there and make an adjustment if supported and necessary. But they obviously don't, or did and there wasn't enough data to support such an adjustment.
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
Ironicallly, this blogger added positive thoughts....though your point is agreed that this caused negativity on the blog.....


He'll be back, unfortunately. His blog page is still there.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 856
Quoting kmanislander:


Yeah, would be nice !

How much rain has TD 16/huge honking monsoonal Low dropped over your area the last 2 days?

When it starts raining arks, or the animals start a new ark factory, start worrying :O)!!
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1463. pottery
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
we guys are getting very strong winds now I was outside on the porch sitting in the chair and the wind just blew me right off and it has been sustained for about 4-5 minutes I expect more for the rest of the night and morning oh yea and pressures are still at 998.4mbs

???
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Quoting CapeFearParke:
Going to be wet week here in Wilmington! Cheers for the rain, but boo for being a lake waiting to happen.


you aint kiddin! im in wilmington too, up near UNCW campus...it was a huge tar water park with 1000 cars yesterday, i expect nothing less tomorrow.
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Quoting IceSlater:
Does anyone think the NHC will say at 11pm that this is not even a depression anymore?

Yes, it is a huge, honking, over-sized Tropical Depression, a huge monsoonal Low pressure area!
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Just think, if the pedigreed you can sell them and become a millionaire!


Yeah, would be nice !
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Quoting 606:
Any thoughts on the wave east of Barbados?

This is an INSANE hurricane season, keep a close eye on that wave, it may develop and create problems.
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1458. wxhatt
Quoting CapeFearParke:


Ya, the ground is already pretty saturated. I've got myself a little coy-pond already going in the back yard.

Hopefully it'll move quickly. If not it might be a long night. Good thing I've got the 4x4 and boat ready to go.


I agree it's going to get deep! They are calling for up to 10" in our area.
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Does anyone think the NHC will say at 11pm that this is not even a depression anymore?
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Quoting kmanislander:
LOL. My weather station says it is raining cats and dogs and so it is LMAO

Just think, if the pedigreed you can sell them and become a millionaire!
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1455. 606
Any thoughts on the wave east of Barbados?
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On the pple drowning in flooding in FL, u need to get real. It doesn't even need to be a hurricane - all that has to happen is that the flooding be enough to cause someone to get into one of those "drainage" pools or a canal. Every year there are flooding related deaths in SFL because people can't tell where the road ends and the canal begins - and they drive in and DROWN.

Don't downplay the danger. Just because FL is flat, it can't be assumed that the risks are nil.
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1453. pottery
Quoting wxhatt:
Maybe a bit disorganized, but this thing covers a huge area!



Anyone have a report from a station in Western Jamaica?
Rainfall looks like it could be a Big prob. there.

Bad news from Mexico too.......
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
we guys are getting very strong winds now I was outside on the porch sitting in the chair and the wind just blew me right off and it has been sustained for about 4-5 minutes I expect more for the rest of the night and morning oh yea and pressures are still at 998.4mbs
wunderkid where are u located in cayman?
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Be prepared for some pretty nasty flash flooding or flooding period. Stay safe and keep us informed as the remnants of TD 16 hammer NC.


10-4 on that. I'll post updates and pics if the water starts creeping. Cheers.
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LOL. My weather station says it is raining cats and dogs and so it is LMAO
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Quoting zoomiami:
One of my concerns is that the storms this year have gone from almost dead or written off to organization in short period of times. That TD16 looks bad tonight, doesn't follow that it will look like that tomorrow afternoon.


While I agree that it has been a very active season, my biggest concern is that the general public does not view it the same as most of us on the blog.

Not wanting anyone to get hit with a major, however with all of the doom and gloom that was predicted this year for U.S. land falling hurricanes, the level of complacency is guaranteed to rise within the general public.

This could be the worst thing that comes out of this season!

Chuck
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Quoting kmanislander:


I take your point. There is always a danger in taking everything you see online as the gospel. This TD has proven that all is not necessarily what it seems. Even now we have a surface pressure for a 50 mph TS ( 999 mb ) yet winds are 7 mph out of the SE !

The joys of the oversized monsoonal Low pressure area called TD 16!!
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1446. MZT
So how many retirements are we looking at?

Alex (possible)
Earl (possible)
Igor (obvious)
Karl (likely)
Matthew (likely)

The damage has been mostly outside the USA, but this has really been quite a season overall.
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
I read it. Thanks!


YW.

Everyone in the path of this strange storm, stay safe!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
There doesn't seem to be much expectation of rain for the Bahamas. It's like we r not even here, based on the discussion...


LOL...you'll get plenty.
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
The word is they banned that troublemaker anyotherliestotell permanently. He was causing a great deal of negativity on the blog.
He'll be back. As long as he can cause negativity he will reappear. Unless and until this blog learns to truly ignore which based on climatology isn't very probable the troll plague will persist.
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Quoting Seastep:
The main point I was trying to make was that too many just take what is presented as fact without question (not directed at you, but everyone). When something doesn't seem right, check it out.

As soon as you posted the oddity that your pressures were lower than the coc, that set off an alarm. I checked recon and, sure enough, they were 2mb higher at GC at the same time.

Then I calibrate and it makes sense.


I take your point. There is always a danger in taking everything you see online as the gospel. This TD has proven that all is not necessarily what it seems. Even now we have a surface pressure for a 50 mph TS ( 999 mb ) yet winds are 7 mph out of the SE !
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Quoting CapeFearParke:


Ya, the ground is already pretty saturated. I've got myself a little coy-pond already going in the back yard.

Hopefully it'll move quickly. If not it might be a long night. Good thing I've got the 4x4 and boat ready to go.

Be prepared for some pretty nasty flash flooding or flooding period. Stay safe and keep us informed as the remnants of TD 16 hammer NC.
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we guys are getting very strong winds now I was outside on the porch sitting in the chair and the wind just blew me right off and it has been sustained for about 4-5 minutes I expect more for the rest of the night and morning oh yea and pressures are still at 998.4mbs
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Quoting Bordonaro:

You may get another 5-15" of rain on top of the 13" you received already and some pretty good winds.


Ya, the ground is already pretty saturated. I've got myself a little coy-pond already going in the back yard.

Hopefully it'll move quickly. If not it might be a long night. Good thing I've got the 4x4 and boat ready to go.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
There doesn't seem to be much expectation of rain for the Bahamas. It's like we r not even here, based on the discussion...

Oh, the Bahamas are gonna get PLENTY of rain, don't worry, the main rain shield from TD 16 or STS/TS Nicole will get you real good!!
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1437. Seastep
The main point I was trying to make was that too many just take what is presented as fact without question (not directed at you, but everyone). When something doesn't seem right, check it out.

As soon as you posted the oddity that your pressures were lower than the coc, that set off an alarm. I checked recon and, sure enough, they were 2mb higher at GC at the same time.

Then I calibrate and it makes sense.
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1435. Patrap
Rain hampers rescue efforts in Mexican mudslide
Published: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 6:43 PM Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 7:07 PM



People watch the badly damaged bridge that crosses the Macuilxochitl River near the town of Tlacolula, Mexico, on Tuesday. Rescuers trying to reach the town of Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec have been delayed because of the condition of the bridge. Authorities fear hundreds may have died in this community after a hillside collapsed, burying several homes.



A hillside collapsed on hundreds of sleeping residents in a rural Mexican community early Tuesday, adding to the deadly toll that weeks of heavy rains have exacted on parts of Latin America.
Rescuers trying to reach the town of Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec have been delayed because of the condition of the bridge. Authorities fear hundreds may have died in this community after a hillside collapsed, burying several homes.

Authorities in the town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec said seven people were killed in the mudslide and at least 100 were missing, but the leader of their state, Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, reported four confirmed dead and 12 missing.

President Felipe Calderon reported on his Twitter account that an Army commander and 30 soldiers had reached the town by foot and that there was a lot of damage, but "perhaps not of the magnitude initially reported."

"We are very saddened by this tragedy, very sad but very determined to do everything in God's power to save the victims who are alive in this landslide and to help the people of Santa Maria," Calderon told reporters.

Communications with the town about 130 miles (220 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City have been difficult since the pre-dawn slide. Soldiers and civil protection and Red Cross workers couldn't reach the area for nearly 10 hours because mud and rocks and in one case a collapsed bridge blocked roads, and bad weather prevented helicopters from being used.

Donato Vargas, an official in Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec reached by a satellite telephone, said as many as 300 homes were believed to buried, and residents who made it out early in the morning said they had no success digging out their neighbors.

"We have been using a backhoe but there is a lot of mud. We can't even see the homes, we can't hear shouts, we can't hear anything," he said.

Vargas said the slide dragged houses packed with sleeping families some 1,300 feet (400 meters) downhill, along with cars, livestock and light poles.

"We were all sleeping and all I heard was a loud noise and when I left the house I saw that the hill had fallen," Vargas said. "We were left without electricity, without telephone and we couldn't help them. There was no way to move the mud."

One person was reported killed in a mudslide in another Oaxaca community, Villa Hidalgo, and 30 people were killed Monday in a slide in Colombia. Heavy rains, including some delivered by the remnants of Hurricane Karl and then Tropical Storm Matthew, also have produced deadly floods in southern Mexico and Central America.

Oaxaca Civil Protection operations coordinator Luis Marin said the state has seen three days straight of intense rain. The state government had warned residents south of the city of Oaxaca of flooding from overflowing rivers and opened shelters in other parts of the state.

Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, which had 9,000 residents in 2005 according to Mexican census data, is an indigenous community high in the Sierra Norte mountains known for its music and culture.

Vargas said there is another hill about to give way in another area of town.

"We are in a serious risk situation," Vargas said. "In all of our neighborhoods there are houses and roads cracked and about to fall."

Huge swaths of riverside communities in southern Mexico were still under water Tuesday -- flooding exacerbated by the passage of Karl and Matthew. Before Tuesday's landslides, at least 15 deaths in Mexico were blamed on the hurricane.

In Honduras, authorities said four people, including a child, drowned in rivers and creeks swollen by Tropical Storm Matthew. The National Emergencies Commission said Tuesday that three adults died in the town of El Oregano and a 10-year-old child in the Caribbean coast town of La Lima.

In Colombia, about 30 people were killed Monday by a landslide northwest of Bogota, the capital. Many were changing from one bus to another because a mountain road was blocked, but the residents of five houses also were buried, rescue officials said.

President Juan Manuel Santos visited the scene Tuesday between the towns of Giraldo and Canasgordas in Antioquia state, northwest of Bogota. "The situation is very difficult," he told reporters as rescue teams with sniffer dogs probed tons of earth.

Witnesses described a roar as first rocks and then earth swept over the road Monday afternoon. Amateur video shows the slide bearing down and scouring away the houses.

Heavy rains in recent weeks across Colombia have triggered flooding that has claimed at least 74 lives.

By Ixtili Martinez, Associated Press writer
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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.