Nicole kills five in Jamaica; historic rains in North Carolina; tornadoes in the Mid-Atlantic

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:23 PM GMT on September 30, 2010

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The season's fourteenth named storm, Tropical Storm Nicole, lasted only six hours as a tropical storm, but triggered torrential heavy rains that caused havoc from the Caribbean to North Carolina. In Jamaica, flash flooding from Nicole's rains killed at least five, and several other people were swept away by flood waters and are feared dead. The storm cut power to 170,000 island residents, and caused millions of dollars in damages. Nicole dumped 6.93" of rain on Kingston, and 8.62" in the Kingston suburb of Norbrook. Rains were heavier on the western end of the island; 8.47" fell at a personal weather station at Irwindale before the power failed and data was lost.


Figure 1. NASA MODIS satellite image of Tropical Storm Nicole at 2:20pm EDT on 9/29/10. Image credit: NASA.


Figure 2. Flooding in Jamaica from Tropical Storm Nicole. Image credit: Jamaica Observer.

In Southeast Florida, Nicole brought 5.83" of rain to Miami, 9.58" to Plantation Key, and 5.44" to Homestead. However, Florida escaped serious flooding. Cuba also received widespread rain amounts of 5 - 10 inches, but there are no reports of serious flooding on the island. The remnants of Nicole will continue to bring heavy rains to portions of Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas today.

Historic rainfall event for eastern North Carolina
In North Carolina, the the tropical moisture streaming northwards in advance of Nicole has generated an epic rainfall event. Wilmington, NC recorded 20.69 inches of rain over the past four days, and 21.28" for the five-day period ending at 10am EDT this morning. The incredible rainfall totals have eclipsed the city's record for heaviest 4-day and 5-day rainfall events, set in September 1999 during Hurricane Floyd (19.06".) Another 1 - 3 inches of rain are likely today in Wilmington, which might make this month the rainiest month in city history. A series of non-tropical low pressure systems have been developing along a stalled front off the Carolina/North Carolina coast over the past day, and this activity will continue through tonight before the rains finally end late tonight. The historic rainfall is causing severe and damaging flooding across much of eastern North Carolina. Fortunately, eastern North Carolina was under moderate drought conditions prior to this week's rainfall onslaught, so the flooding damage will not be as great as the billions of dollars of damage wrought by Hurricane Floyd.


Figure 3. Radar-estimated precipitation for North Carolina since Sunday shows that the precursor moisture from Nicole has brought widespread rain amounts in excess of ten inches to eastern North Carolina, with over fifteen inches (white colors surrounded by dark purple) near Wilmington.

Heavy rain, flooding, and tornadoes expected from Virginia to New England
The intense plume of tropical moisture streaming northwards along the U.S. East coast will bring heavy rains of 3 - 6 inches across a wide swath of coast from North Carolina northwards to New England today and Friday. The wunderground severe weather map shows that flood warnings are already posted for portions of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, and flood watches extend northwards though Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and the rest of New England. Tornado watches have been posted for much of the Mid-Atlantic coast, and NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has put the region in their "slight risk" area for severe weather. One tornado warning has already been issued for coastal Virginia this morning. Three possible tornadoes were reported yesterday in northeastern North Carolina.

Disturbance 97L
Two tropical waves, located 600 - 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands, are generating a large area of disorganized thunderstorms. NHC has designated this area Invest 97L this morning. The SHIPS model predicts that wind shear over 97L will remain moderate, 10 - 20 knots, through Saturday morning, then increase to levels marginal for development, 15 - 25 knots, Saturday afternoon through Monday. Some slow development of 97L is likely over this time period, and NHC is giving it a 30% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Saturday. The system is headed west-northwest at 15 mph, and should slow down to about 10 mph by Saturday. 97L will bring heavy rains and strong gusty winds to the Lesser Antilles Islands on Sunday and Monday. The ECMWF model is the only model that develops 97L, and foresees that 97L will track across the northern Lesser Antilles and pass near Puerto Rico on Monday and the eastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands by Wednesday. There are major differences in how the models handle the steering current forecast for next week, and the long-range track of 97L is highly uncertain at this point.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of Invest 97L. The upper right portion on the disturbance, centered near 13.5N 45W, is most likely to develop into a tropical depression.

Next update
I'll have an update Friday morning.

Jeff Masters

Post Tropical Storm Nicole Sunset. (bethinking)
Taken at the Lower Sugarloaf Key Estuary as the skies cleared after TS Nicole moved north.
Post Tropical Storm Nicole Sunset.
Hooray for the power company! (AnnaThomas)
Current rain storm took out a tree and a power line. This is what my front yard looks like right now. Praise the power company for responding so quickly- so I could post this picture!
Hooray for the power company!

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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Good Day Levi. Great presentation. Thanks!
Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:

Fantastic summary. I really enjoyed your presentation.
Quoting shfr173:
Nice report Levi
Quoting 7544:
thanks levi you explain 97l very clearly good job we have to wait and see


Thank you :)
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

12z GFS Model



thank you
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Quoting SQUAWK:


Yup, boring.


LOL. Hard to argue with that.
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I'll say one thing about that Levi his no name dropper. But as usual nice job there tidbits.
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Levi,

good morning and good to see ya. so, quick question on your analysis. you think in this instance (even though it is too early to tell), the invest area could advance far enough west before an approaching trough pulls the system potentially north/northeastward towards the SE CONUS?

I tell ya, if I understand you, then I am getting better and would be honored to learn from a person like yourself! thanks levi
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I had no school again Today.

Fan-tastic here too.

Coolish since Monday..with a Deep N flow still.

Current Conditions

Uptown, New Orleans, Louisiana (PWS)
Updated: 1 min 35 sec ago
Clear
79.0 °F
Clear
Humidity: 40%
Dew Point: 53 °F
Wind: 3.0 mph from the North
Wind Gust: 8.1 mph
Pressure: 29.88 in (Steady)
Heat Index: 79 °F
Visibility: 10.0 miles
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Bayside - hanging in there? I was in Hampton yesterday and got hammered a couple of times.

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161. 7544
thanks levi you explain 97l very clearly good job we have to wait and see
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Several of the links under models have the GFS and others. The SWMD page has spaghetti plots.



thanks so much...cruising on Sunday to the western carribbean...hoping the disturbances will stay away :)
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Nice report Levi
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Quoting caneswatch:


Going W-WNW. Not good.


Why aren't you in school?
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Quoting Neapolitan:


Ha! Yes, they do happen. Just a few days ago, the WU forecast for Lander, Wyoming, showed an upcoming high of 70-something, with a wind chill factor of 120 below zero. ;-)

For what it's worth, the heaviest for-real extended rainfall I've ever been in was 14" in Hollywood, Florida, one October night back in the late 80s; that amount fell from about 1AM until 10AM, and caused incredible flooding even by Florida standards. The heaviest downpour I've ever been in, though, was 1.25" or so in a single ten-minute period in Wyoming; I've been in Florida on and off for the past 30 years, but I've never seen anything like that.

Link

This is a link to a NWS posting where almost 5 inches of rain fell in one hour and 7.36 inches in 2 hours in Broward cty (May 27, 2003). The most I remember seeing in my life in such a short period of time and it mostly happended during and right after rush hour.
Just my little tidbit.
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Quoting Neapolitan:


Ha! Yes, they do happen. Just a few days ago, the WU forecast for Lander, Wyoming, showed an upcoming high of 70-something, with a wind chill factor of 120 below zero. ;-)

For what it's worth, the heaviest for-real extended rainfall I've ever been in was 14"+ in Hollywood, Florida, one October night back in the late 80s; that amount fell from about 1AM until 10AM, and caused incredible flooding even by Florida standards. The heaviest downpour I've ever been in, though, was 1.25" or so in a single ten-minute period in Wyoming; I've been in Florida on and off for the past 30 years, but I've never seen anything like that.


My mother's family moved to Hollywood in 1925 from Tampa. I lived there many years myself. In Lauderdale now.
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Quoting westcoastfla:
Can someone send a link to the GFS model...thanks


Several of the links under models have the GFS and others. The SWMD page has spaghetti plots.
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Sunny and pleasant in Charlotte right now... weird to think that just east of here it's a deluge

you're welcome to come grab all of this 21" of rain you can haul back

OVER IT!
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Can someone send a link to the GFS model...thanks
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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, September 30th, with Video


Thanks........I like the "model wars" term...It's a wait and see.
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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, September 30th, with Video

Fantastic summary. I really enjoyed your presentation.
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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, September 30th, with Video


Good Day Levi. Great presentation. Thanks!
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Quoting Grothar:


Just admit you were wrong. LOL Hey, I knew something was funny about that site when you posted it this morning. The only time I saw 4 1/2 feet of rain was in India and that was about a 10 day period. Remember a few years ago when the forecast on the Weather Channel had snow in the forecast for Alabama in August? These things happen.


Ha! Yes, they do happen. Just a few days ago, the WU forecast for Lander, Wyoming, showed an upcoming high of 70-something, with a wind chill factor of 120 below zero. ;-)

For what it's worth, the heaviest for-real extended rainfall I've ever been in was 14"+ in Hollywood, Florida, one October night back in the late 80s; that amount fell from about 1AM until 10AM, and caused incredible flooding even by Florida standards. The heaviest downpour I've ever been in, though, was 1.25" or so in a single ten-minute period in Wyoming; I've been in Florida on and off for the past 30 years, but I've never seen anything like that.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Quoting Levi32:
Definitely asking for trouble with this large area of low pressure moving into an area that is favorable for development.



Going W-WNW. Not good.
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Quoting MZT:
Eastern NC may have been under drought conditions, but when you're talking about FEET of rain in flat areas, you will get floods... Tonight we'll be seeing this all over the news.


That's what I'm thinking too MZT. There has been a whole lot of rain from Wilmington up through Jacksonville. Still coming down hard in many of those areas too and more to come from the looks of it.
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Quoting Levi32:
Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, September 30th, with Video


Morning...
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Definitely asking for trouble with this large area of low pressure moving into an area that is favorable for development.

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Was up for the 1am tornado warning here (Seaford, VA). Woke this morning, sailboat was sitting oddly, I suspected water was not draining out of the cockpit, it was full of about 8 inches of water due to come leaves blowing into the cockpit and clogging the drains. Lots of rain here, ready for it to end!

Jon (Near Yorktown, VA)
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Quoting MZT:
Eastern NC may have been under drought conditions, but when you're alking about FEET of rain in flat areas, you will get floods... Tonight we'll be seeing this all over the news.


yea it wont be long before the Neuse river overflows at this rate
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While still elongated east to west, 850mb vorticity is beginning to slightly concentrate and consolidate right around 13.0N/47.0W. If it keeps that up, we may just see TD17 by this evening:

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
I'm going on a cruise that is supposed to stop in Jamaica next Wednesday. That should be interesting! I am wondering where and what 97L will be by then.
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138. MZT
Eastern NC may have been under drought conditions, but when you're talking about FEET of rain in flat areas, you will get floods... Tonight we'll be seeing this all over the news.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:


Been watching you for the past several years and you take things too personally sometimes; two tips: 1) don't be so hard on yourself and don't pander to those on here that do not contribute constructively and are just out to correct or criticize folks, and, 2) this is an open site for weather "enthusiasts" and just ignore those who cross the line......At the end of the day, why stress yourself over a "blog"?.....Child Please......... :)


That just makes too much sense!
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Jamaica just can't catch a break. Anytime a big blob of convection forms it is right on top of them!
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Good morning all.

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, September 30th, with Video
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I should note that the gauge is in the most open space in the yard - but still could be over reporting since there are lots of trees in the area throwing additional precip into the air - plus the rain is hitting hard enough to bounce 10-12 inches off the ground, LOL.
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133. IKE
Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


Thats because there is nothing big to argue about.


True.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Some decent raw footage of conditions from Wilmington to Jacksonville.
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Quoting Neapolitan:


Precisely! Finally. I was merely trying to prompt someone into considering other possibilities for the anomalously high reading than simply assuming the first guess fit--that is, that it was in centimeters rather than inches. It's been a recent topic of discussion that radar-based stage III estimates are not a very useful source of data since they suffer from several built-in errors: too short a perid of record, problems with processing algorithms, and near-point over-estimations, etc. In fact, for Mean Areal Precip (MAP), they're normally considered only as a secondary or tertiary data point, calibrated gauges being the primary.

Congrats! Your correct answer win the prize... :-)


Just admit you were wrong. LOL Hey, I knew something was funny about that site when you posted it this morning. The only time I saw 4 1/2 feet of rain was in India and that was about a 10 day period. Remember a few years ago when the forecast on the Weather Channel had snow in the forecast for Alabama in August? These things happen.
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129. MZT
Sunny and pleasant in Charlotte right now... weird to think that just east of here it's a deluge.
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Emptied 7 inches out of the rain gauge this am at 0700. Only light rain/mist and gusty this am until about an hour ago when a downpour gave me an inch in 10-15 minutes. Here is the next round - gutters overflowing again with a solid sheet of waterfall, LOL. Wind steady about 26 and gusting pretty good as well - probably around 40 or a bit over.

Just slacked off a bit - with the binoculars I can now see the rain gauge is a bit over 3 inches already.
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126. JLPR2
Well I'm off again, later all!

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Quoting IKE:
I feel love on the blog today.


Thats because there is nothing big to argue about.
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I am putting up the detailed stuff on 97L as we speak on my Web. Will have it up soon....BBL!
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Link

pier cam on NC coast serious rain indeed
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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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