Paula weakens, heads towards Cuba

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:42 PM GMT on October 13, 2010

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Data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicates that Hurricane Paula has weakened substantially, and may now be a Category 1 hurricane. The aircraft has made three penetrations of the eye as of 3:30pm EDT, and found top surface winds of 80 mph with their SFMR instrument. Top winds seen at flight level of 10,000 feet were 92 mph, which translates to 83 mph surface winds, using the 10% reduction rule of thumb. Based on these data, it is reasonable to assume Paula is now a Category 1 hurricane with 85 - 90 mph winds, since the aircraft may not have sampled where the peak winds were occurring. Paula is in the Yucatan Channel, the narrow gap between Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and the western tip of Cuba, and has now turned and is headed northeast towards Cuba. A rain band with heavy rains lies over the western tip of Cuba, and Cabo San Antonio on the western tip of Cuba picked up 2.80" of rain so far today from Paula. However, the winds have remained below 15 mph.


Figure 1. Radar image from the Pinar del Rio radar in Cuba at 3:15pm EDT on October 13, 2010, showing the eye of Paula near the western tip of Cuba. A strong spiral band was affecting western Cuba at this time. Image credit: Cuban Institute of Meteorology.

High wind shear due to strong upper-level winds out of the south are starting to tear up the southern portion of Paula, and satellite imagery shows the storm now has a lopsided appearance due to the shear. Low level spiral banding is no longer as impressive, and lines of low-level arc-shaped clouds are racing away from the southern portion of Paula, indicating that the hurricane has ingested dry air that has created strong thunderstorm downdrafts. Ingestion of this dry air is partially responsible for Paula's recent weakening. Water vapor satellite loops confirm the presence of a large amount of dry air on the south, west, and north sides of Paula.

Forecast for Paula
A small storm like Paula may weaken very quickly under the current 30 knots of wind shear and the dry air surrounding it. However, the latest 3pm EDT eye report from the Hurricane Hunters indicated that Paula's eyewall still remained solid, so Paula may be able to hang on for a few more hours before the shear drives dry air into the inner core and destroys the eyewall. Once that occurs, Paula should weaken more rapidly. I'd be surprised if Paula was still a hurricane on Thursday morning, even if it does not hit Cuba. Hurricane force winds extend out just fifteen miles from Paula's center, so only a very small region of coast will receive Paula's strongest winds if landfall occurs. The 11am EDT wind probability product from NHC gives Cabo San Antonio on the western tip of Cuba the highest odds of receiving hurricane force winds of any land area--a 35% chance. Key West is given a 4% chance, and Havana, Cuba, an 8% chance. These probabilities are slightly higher than they were in the 5am advisory, reflecting Paula's ability to hang tough in the face of 30 knots of wind shear. It currently appears that heavy rain will be the major threat from Paula. If Paula stalls over or near western Cuba for several days, the hurricane could easily dump more than ten inches over mountainous regions of the island.

The latest SHIPS model forecast calls for wind shear to rise to a very high 35 - 40 knots on Thursday afternoon, and remain above 25 knots for the rest of the week. This high shear, combined with the expected landfall of the center over mountainous Cuba, should be enough to destroy Paula by Sunday.

The latest set of model runs from 8am EDT (12Z) are very similar to the previous sets of runs. There are two basic solutions. One solution, championed by the GFDL and GFS ensemble mean, takes Paula just south of the Florida Keys on Friday morning, then into the Bahamas Friday afternoon. The other solution, offered by the rest of the models, is for Paula to move very slowly over western Cuba the next few days, then circle southeastwards into the Caribbean, as a strong high pressure system over the Gulf of Mexico intensifies and pushes Paula to the south. This is the more likely scenario, given the current trends in how the models are depicting evolution of the jet stream pattern over the U.S. in the coming days. However, residents of South Florida, the Keys, and the Bahamas should be anticipate the possibility of Paula coming their way as a weak tropical storm on Friday.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The NOGAPS model is predicting the formation of Tropical Storm Richard 5 - 6 days from now, in the southern Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua, near where Paula formed. The GFS has just a strong tropical disturbance forming there.

In the Western Pacific, Tropical Storm Megi has formed, and is predicted to be a major typhoon that will threaten the northern Philippine Island of Luzon early next week.

Next update
I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 13th day of the month at 20:08Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 303)
Storm Number & Year: 18L in 2010
Storm Name: Paula (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 5
Observation Number: 18
A. Time of Center Fix: 13th day of the month at 19:57:50Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 21°37'N 85°41'W (21.6167N 85.6833W)
B. Center Fix Location: 81 miles (130 km) to the ENE (66°) from Cancún, Quintana Roo, México.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 3,035m (9,957ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 67kts (~ 77.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 2 nautical miles (2 statute miles) to the NW (318°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 94° at 67kts (From the E at ~ 77.1mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 6 nautical miles (7 statute miles) to the NNW (332°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 992mb (29.29 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 7°C (45°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,135m (10,285ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,050m (10,007ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 11°C (52°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Open from the southwest to the southeast
M. Eye Shape & Diameter: Circular with a diameter of 12 nautical miles (14 statute miles)
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Levels (sfc and flt lvl centers are within 5nm of each other): Surface and 700mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 2 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 79kts (~ 90.9mph) in the northeast quadrant at 19:03:40Z
Member Since: May 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 907
Well that was nothing, 30 min south of Cancun right now and all we got last night was a little breeze and a few showers this morning. Right now on the beach it's in the 80's with bright sunshine and nice fun waves to swim in, thanks Paula!


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I'm not always correct!! I'm just asking why you guys question me for my opinion on a storm. You don't do that to others on here anymore. Based on recon data that is on Dr. Masters post, winds are still over 80 mph. It is MY OPINION and MY OPINION ONLY that we will still have a Hurricane by 5 p.m., a strong category 1 storm. Fluctuations in intensity is gonna happen with all that shear over there, but I doubt it will destroy it, it's already been under 20-30 knots for over 10 hours.
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18L/H/P/C1


ON THE DOWNWARD TURN
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Quoting sammywammybamy:


It Shifted Left. I Thought i Shifted Right. All the Models that were Aiming it at Florida Shifted South.

With the exception of the four models that were showing a south Florida landfall, they all shifted towards the left.

I would be very surprised if Paula makes a landfall over the Keys. The 18z TVCN does appear to have the right idea with keeping the system generally around the Florida straights.
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
It's indicated on the forecast automatically if you're within the NHC cone.


Yeah, but it only puts the chance of rain at 20% ... that means it will probably rain all day long ...
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48. HCW
18z Model runs with Intensity from the NHC

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looks like the forecast cone may shift to the left again
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44. 7544
most models now take paula to fla straights
maybe next run they will shift north and hot water there . things can change fast
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
i dont know why ??? but your predictions have come true every time , i still think this will come closer to south florida than we all expect , do you think mainland south florida will get watches Mainly from . Golden beach to craig key and bonita springs to florida bay


Bevause he was prediction and warning of a cat one or two hurricane for S. Florida. Thats NOT going to happen based on what is going on now. A very weak TS maybe a TD for the straights.......are possible.
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Quoting jasoniscoolman2010xo:
HERE IT COME.



It's going to be an Atl Monster.... What about a nice weekend in Cape Cod??


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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
It's indicated on the forecast automatically if you're within the NHC cone.


Why Hurricane Paula on Saturday if the storm is expected to weaken in a day or two?Makes no sense to me.
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38. 7544
Quoting sngalla:
Ft Lauderdale forecast. Seems a bit odd to me.

Link

TS Paula on Fri and Hurricane Paula on Saturday??


that has to be a big error lol
but with paula u never know she does what she wants too so far
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Quoting reedzone:
So why are you all questioning me on the last blog then? I said winds will probably be at 80-90 mph. and Dr. Masters has proved my statement.
So Reed, you are correct. Everyone KOWTOW to Reed!!!LOL, Reed, you have been pretty accurate. Do you really need everyone to acknowledge your "greatness"? Might want to check the ego there. No One likes a smart aleck.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
paula looks really sheared
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Quoting reedzone:
So why are you all questioning me on the last blog then? I said winds will probably be at 80-90 mph. and Dr. Masters has proved my statement.


When will people learn that you are always correct? 80-90 mph is confirmed.
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Quoting sngalla:
Ft Lauderdale forecast. Seems a bit odd to me.

Link

TS Paula on Fri and Hurricane Paula on Saturday??
It's indicated on the forecast automatically if you're within the NHC cone.
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thanks doc ya she is a cat 1 on the way to a TS
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Quoting reedzone:
So why are you all questioning me on the last blog then? I said winds will probably be at 80-90 mph. and Dr. Masters has proved my statement.


They are not 80 - 90 mph now...according to recon....what are you basing your 80-90- mph forecast on.....?
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Quoting eddye:
strong ts coming


Why don't you just tell your mom that you are sick so she won't take you to school instead of wishcasting a TS for Miami / Broward?
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Quoting reedzone:
So why are you all questioning me on the last blog then? I said winds will probably be at 80-90 mph. and Dr. Masters has proved my statement.
i dont know why ??? but your predictions have come true every time , i still think this will come closer to south florida than we all expect , do you think mainland south florida will get watches Mainly from . Golden beach to craig key and bonita springs to florida bay
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The 18z dynamic model plots have shifted towards the left and this shift will likely be reflected in the 5pm forecast cone. Notice the NHC plot (white plot) that was using the TVCN model for guidance in the 12z run. As you can tell, the TVCN no longer has the system turning towards the south and into the western Caribbean, but rather now has the system only skirting the northern Cuba coast and staying over water until dissipation.

18z ATCF model plots:

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Quoting Seflhurricane:
still dont get how Paula will follow the track over cuba and then south, still think a track between the north coast of cuba and the florida keys looks good


South track will occur if Paula gets left behind by troff - As High builds over gulf....
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school is as scheduled for the rest of the week !!!!!!!!
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22. 7544
Quoting eddye:
7544 thanks no school


schools on no watches not yet anyway lol .
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So why are you all questioning me on the last blog then? I said winds will probably be at 80-90 mph. and Dr. Masters has proved my statement.
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Ft Lauderdale forecast. Seems a bit odd to me.

Link

TS Paula on Fri and Hurricane Paula on Saturday??
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Thanks for the update Dr. Masters.

Good afternoon everyone.
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14. 7544
if paula had remain small as this am so fla would have dodge her but now as she weakens and expanding all around put so fla at min ts possiblty as doc has posted . so so fla not out of the pic yet only 2 days out unless she stalls wait watch and see . and imo the models will shift north again latter
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Thanks Doc....Put a fork in Paula..she's being shredded...
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Double posted during the glitch
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
still dont get how Paula will follow the track over cuba and then south, still think a track between the north coast of cuba and the florida keys looks good
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.