Tropical Storm Richard slowly intensifying

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:31 PM GMT on October 21, 2010

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Tropical Storm Richard is here, the seventeenth named storm of this very busy 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Richard's formation puts 2010 in 6th place for the greatest number of named storms in the Atlantic since record keeping began in 1851. Only 2005 (28 named storms), 1933 (21 named storms), 1995 (19 named storms), 1887 (19 named storms), and 1969 (18 named storms) had more.

We won't have another hurricane hunter aircraft in Richard until 8pm tonight, so we will have to rely on satellite intensity estimates until then. The closest buoy to Richard is NOAA buoy 42057, which is on Richard's weak side about 100 miles from the heaviest thunderstorms. Winds at the buoy were just 18 mph, gusting to 22 mph, at 2:43pm EDT this afternoon. Recent satellite imagery shows that Richard is steadily organizing, with several curved spiral bands forming on the storm's south and east sides. The storm is bringing very heavy rain to Jamaica. Water vapor satellite loops show considerable dry air to the west and north of Richard, and the southwesterly upper-level winds over the storm are bringing some of this dry into the core of the storm, keeping all the heavy thunderstorm development confined to the east side of the center. The waters beneath Richard are very warm, 29°C, and Richard will begin taking advantage of these warm waters now that the shear is falling.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Richard.

Intensity forecast for Richard
The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts that wind shear over the Western Caribbean will remain in the low range, 5 - 10 knots, through Monday morning. As the storm moves westwards on Friday, it will position itself beneath an upper-level high pressure system, which will aid the storm's upper-level outflow. With water temperatures a very warm 29°C and warm waters extending to great depth, Richard should be able to attain at least Category 1 hurricane strength by Saturday. NHC is currently giving Richard a 11% chance of becoming a major Category 3+ hurricane. I believe the odds are higher, near 30%. The main inhibiting factor for intensification will be interaction with the north coast of Honduras, and the possibility of the dry air to the west of Richard getting wrapped into the core of the storm while it is trying to organize. A band of very strong upper-level winds associated with the jet stream will be over the Gulf of Mexico early next week, so it is likely that if Richard crosses into the Gulf of Mexico, the storm will steadily weaken.

Track forecast for Richard
The latest set of 8am EDT (12Z) model runs are similar to the previous set of runs, and don't help illuminate what the long-range fate of Richard might be. Steering currents are weak in the Western Caribbean, and will remain weak through Friday morning, resulting in a slow, erratic movement for Richard. Most of the models favor a southerly, then southwesterly path at 5mph or less over the next two days. This may bring the center of Richard very close to or over the northern coast of Honduras on Saturday or Sunday, as predicted by the GFS, UKMET, and NOGAPS models. These models then show Richard dissipating over Central America. A much different solution is offered by the ECMWF, HWRF and GFDL models, which foresee less of a southerly motion for Richard over the next two days, resulting in the storm missing the north coast of Honduras by one hundred miles or more. These models take Richard to the northwest across the tip of the Yucatan (GFDL and ECMWF models) or western tip of Cuba (HWRF model) on Sunday or Monday. The HWRF and GFDL models predict Richard will be a threat to the west coast of Florida on Tuesday. NHC takes the reasonable approach of predicting a path somewhere between these two extremes, with Richard crossing the Yucatan between Cozumel and the Belize/Mexico border. Residents of northern Honduras should anticipate the possibility that Richard will pass very close or strike Honduras on Saturday or Sunday. Very heavy rains of 4 - 8 inches are possible over the the weekend in coastal Honduras beginning Friday night or Saturday morning. The 11am EDT NHC wind probability forecast is giving the highest odds for tropical storm-force winds at Guanaja in Honduras, at 46%. Cozumel, Mexico is given a 42% chance, Key West a 6% chance, and Ft. Myers a 3% chance.

Invest 90L
A tropical wave that emerged off the coast of Africa yesterday (Invest 90L) has a modest amount of spin and some growing thunderstorm activity. Wind shear is a moderate 5 - 15 knots, and the waters are still warm enough to support tropical storm formation. NHC is giving the system a 30% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Saturday. By Sunday, 90L will encounter high wind shear of 20 - 40 knots, discouraging further development. This system is not a threat to cross the Atlantic and affect the Lesser Antilles or North America.

Typhoon Megi takes aim at China
Typhoon Megi continues it slow march towards China at 5 mph, and is expected to make landfall Saturday morning on the Chinese coast opposite from Taiwan. Megi has maintained strength as a Category 3 typhoon with 115 mph winds today, despite rising wind shear (now a moderate 10 - 20 knots) and cooling sea surface temperatures. Megi is moving slow enough and is large and powerful enough that it is probably upwelling cold water from the depths to the surface faster than it can move away, and these upwelling cool waters are keeping Megi from being a stronger storm. Wind shear will increase dramatically to 20 - 40 knots on Friday as the typhoon makes its final approach to the coast of China, and this shear should be high enough to reduce Megi to Category 1 status before landfall. Megi will still be a very large and powerful storm capable of causing considerable wind and storm surge damage even at Category 1 strength. However, heavy rain will likely be the storm's main threat, since it is moving slowly and is a huge storm. I expect Megi will be a billion-dollar disaster for China, mostly due to flooding from heavy rains. The outer rain bands of Megi are already affecting the coast of China near Taiwan, as seen on China's radar composite, as well as Taiwan radar.

The clean-up continues in the Philippines from Megi, which hit northern Luzon island on Monday morning at 3:30 UTC as a Category 5 super typhoon with sustained winds of 165 mph and a central pressure of 914 mb. Severe damage was done to Isabela Province in northern Luzon, and 19 deaths are being blamed on the storm. Considering most major typhoon that have hit the Philippine in recent year have killed hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, the low death toll from Megi is a testament to the excellent efforts by officials in the Philippines to get people out of harm's way in advance of the storm.


Figure 2. Rainfall rate for Megi as observed by the TRMM polar orbiting satellite at 10:01am EDT October 21, 2010. Heavy rains in excess of 0.8" per hour (yellow colors) were present in Megi's eyewall and spiral bands. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Next update
I'll have an update Friday morning.

Jeff Masters

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1365. AstroHurricane001
2:20 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Oh dear...I KNEW I should have been tracking this one!



Category four Cyclone Giri rapidly intensified last night (EDT time) from a weak tropical storm to a potentially catastrophic category major cyclone. This looks like another major disaster for Myanmar (Burma), which was hit by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which similarly strengthened to a category four prior to landfall. Giri has made a direct landfall in Kyaukpyu, Myanmar, a town of approximately 25,000 people.



This is Giri at peak strength. Death toll and damages are unknown.



The above track is for NARGIS in 2008. That storm hit the Irrawady Delta, and the Yangon/Rangoon area, a very highly populated and low-lying region. Nargis killed about 140,000 people and caused $10 billion USD in damage.



Animation of Giri making landfall today. Here is the approximate storm surge threat in the area affected by Giri.

Giri strengthened very rapidly in the Bay of Bengal. It was situated over 29C SSTs when it made the jump from a tropical storm to a category four in less than 24 hours. Here is a news link to the storm's landfall.



Giri's lowest pressure was 950 mb, whereas Nargis' was 962 mb.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
1363. Becca36
2:12 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
New Blog!
Member Since: June 26, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 162
1362. rmbjoe1954
2:11 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting reedzone:


I made this statement around 9 p.m. last night, 2 hours before the 11 p.m. discussion, nice try bashers. Once again, I back up my statements with facts. I admit, this is not a strong TS, but close, a 50 mph. TS.


Hi reedzone-

You, like Levi, and Jeff (the real one) have high credibility scores in my book. Thanks for the information. If Richard gets too strong (RI) too soon will there be more of a northward(Poleward) motion?
Member Since: June 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1325
1361. oracle28
2:10 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting scooster67:
Reed! Lighten up! Do what you do and don't listen to these people. Take a lesson from Ike. He gets it 10 times as much as you and He just keeps doing his thing. Most of us on here enjoy your opioion and posts.


As long as he continues to react like that, people will continue to do that to him. It's a low-level psychology experiment...
Member Since: July 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 596
1360. Hurricane1956
2:08 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting kmanhurricaneman:
it not a model its only used to show direction of path of current system in other words extrapolation of direction
Thank you!!
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 609
1359. CyclonicVoyage
2:07 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


If it doesn't die out in CA what ever is left should come this way with the trough, I agree. Personally I would love some rain out of this. Trend this year though is to get nadda so, that's what's expected by me ATM.



Strict water restrictions and crunchy lawns on the way for FL, lol.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
1358. ParanoidAndroid
2:06 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting stillwaiting:
...so did the nhc,he basically repeated the 11pm discussion...


lol. just let the man have his compliment. sheesh
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1357. Orcasystems
2:06 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
New Blog..
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1354. reedzone
2:04 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting cat5hurricane:

You got it.


RAMSDIS floaters are more faster then the NHC floaters, gotta love them.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
1353. scooster67
2:04 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting reedzone:


STOP! Now!
Reed! Lighten up! Do what you do and don't listen to these people. Take a lesson from Ike. He gets it 10 times as much as you and He just keeps doing his thing. Most of us on here enjoy your opioion and posts.
Member Since: September 26, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 637
1352. Orcasystems
2:04 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
HH is making another quick run inbound.. they didn't like the fix either



Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1351. jambev
2:02 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Here in Kingston, the sun is out in all it's glory with very little cloud to be seen. This will probably not hold for the day but I agree that richard is moving very slowly,slightly due south of west
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
1349. TampaSpin
2:01 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
For those that said this is a Richard is nearly a Hurricane....get off the creamer in your coffee.....its maybe 50mph max maybe by 11pm tonite we might see a Hurricane and possbily by 5pm but i doubt it.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
1348. NOLALawyer
2:01 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Gotta love this season. When you want a ridge to hold, a trough takes it away. When you want a trough to come in, it weakens and a ridge holds.

I want all the hours I wasted watching storms on this blog back. I probably blew 50k worth of billables.

2010, the year Khan prevailed over Kirk.
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 520
1347. hcubed
2:01 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting Hurricane1956:
Hello if I may ask what is the XTRP,thank you!.


Yes, oracle28, tell us all why you consider the XTRP to be the most reliable model.

Prove to us that you know what you're talking about.

Make it a teachable moment...
Member Since: May 18, 2007 Posts: 289 Comments: 1639
1346. cchsweatherman
2:00 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Something quite noteworthy though from the Hurricane Hunter data is that Richard no longer has any southward component to its motion. Movement to the west is taking place with maybe even a slight northward component based upon the last recon fix.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
1345. ParanoidAndroid
2:00 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting BobinTampa:


what did he call? wasn't Richard expected to slowly get better organized and strengthen?


Just that the convection would blow up overnight.
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1344. TampaTom
2:00 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting Hurricane1956:
Hello if I may ask what is the XTRP,thank you!.


XTRP is short for extrapolated.

If you take the current direction of the storm and draw a straight line in that direction, that's where it appears to be headed.

Only problem is that hurricanes don't normally move in dead, straight lines...
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
1343. reedzone
2:00 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting reedzone:
I guess Richard is dying right?? You need to understand that we are in DMIN and also notice a nice convective pop up storm forming west of the LLC. Tonight, this will probably organize into a strong Tropical Storm. Everytime you see a storm look like this in favorable conditions means it is just undergoing organization, it takes time. I expect this to ramp up with convection forming around the center late tonight.


I made this statement around 9 p.m. last night, 2 hours before the 11 p.m. discussion, nice try bashers. Once again, I back up my statements with facts. I admit, this is not a strong TS, but close, a 50 mph. TS.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
1342. Jax82
2:00 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Little Richie on the RAMSDIS. The sun is up and shining on him. Look at all those Thunderstorms firing at the center. Definately a sign of strengthening!

RAMSDIS tropical floater
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1339. jasblt
1:58 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Fights are starting this early..jeez, I could listen to my kids and hear less than this.
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1338. shawn26
1:58 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Looks like this storm is going to be a hard one to get a handle on.
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1337. barotropic
1:58 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting cchsweatherman:
Taking a look at the Hurricane Hunter data, Tropical Storm Richard has changed very little over the past 12 hours with only a slight increase in wind speed and now what appears to be a rise in surface pressures. Both indicate that Richard is barely maintaining tropical storm status at the moment despite the marked increase in convection over the past 24 hours. But, with shear evidently decreasing and dry air becoming less of a problem throughout the day, Richard should gradually become better organized and strengthen in the next 12 to 24 hours.
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1336. kmanhurricaneman
1:58 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting reedzone:


Maybe, if you look at the bands around the system, it would make sense for the center to be further north in the CDO.
agreed
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1335. TampaSpin
1:58 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Are you thinking the entire system or just some remnants?


Just the rememants but, just looking at the models closer heck they now don't even show the cold front moving into the south it lifts out to the north and never makes it.....not sure that moisture ever makes it to florida at all...
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1333. stillwaiting
1:56 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting ParanoidAndroid:
Where's reedzone? Gotta admit, he called it last night. Richie's looking a lot better this morning.
...so did the nhc,he basically repeated the 11pm discussion...
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1332. kmanhurricaneman
1:56 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
who is this bartropic,
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1330. cchsweatherman
1:55 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Taking a look at the Hurricane Hunter data, Tropical Storm Richard has changed very little over the past 12 hours with only a slight increase in wind speed and now what appears to be a rise in surface pressures. Both indicate that Richard is barely maintaining tropical storm status at the moment despite the marked increase in convection over the past 24 hours. But, with shear evidently decreasing and dry air becoming less of a problem throughout the day, Richard should gradually become better organized and strengthen in the next 12 to 24 hours.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
1329. reedzone
1:55 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting 7544:
we may see a center relocted to the north ?


Maybe, if you look at the bands around the system, it would make sense for the center to be further north in the CDO.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
1328. roatangardener
1:55 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
we dodged many close calls this season. maybe our run of good luck is coming to a close. most of the models show richard coming awfully close to the bay islands of honduras. will ck in for continued updated in a little while. need to make some plans. rg
Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 54 Comments: 198
1326. CyclonicVoyage
1:54 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:
Morning everyone. Looks like the Shift to the West occured as i pointed out yesterday evening. Don't let this fool the people in Florida as a SubTropical system could develop from Richard as he mixes with the cold front and pulls to the NE in time.


If it doesn't die out in CA what ever is left should come this way with the trough, I agree. Personally I would love some rain out of this. Trend this year though is to get nadda so, that's what's expected by me ATM.
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1324. 7544
1:54 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
we may see a center relocted to the north ?
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1323. portcharlotte
1:54 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
It's almost November, not September that ridge is a progressive set-up moving east. SW flow is waiting for Richard when it approaches the Yucatan. You can't expect the pattern to continue forever that storms will head west into Mexico. Just because the models shifted does not mean Richard is reading the models before he decides where to go. If his motion has any kind of northerly component in the short term than he will make the channel easily. Also, the slower he goes the more the pattern involving the trough will affect him.
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1322. reedzone
1:53 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting barotropic:


How VAIN!!!!! LOL.....hurricane center had forecast a 50mph +....also by 11 am this morn in last nights disc......


Wow, just like scottsvb you find every way to attack me on here..
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
1320. Orcasystems
1:52 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting reedzone:


They need to go to the north side of the storm, thats where winds should be around 40-50 mph. with pressures down to 1000 mlb. or lower. The center of circulation is right on the southern part of the convective ball (CDO)


Mellow out Reed... your guesstimation versus actually onsite real time data from a HH do not jive.. and I must admit... the HH wins the argument.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1319. reedzone
1:52 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Based on the visible banding features, maybe the LLC is further north in the convective ball. Interesting..
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
1318. TampaSpin
1:52 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Morning everyone. Looks like the Shift to the West occured as i pointed out yesterday evening. Don't let this fool the people in Florida as a SubTropical system could develop from Richard as he mixes with the cold front and pulls to the NE in time.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
1317. shawn26
1:51 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
It is hard to believe this storm is still in the 40MPH range
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1316. reedzone
1:51 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:
I think so of the people on here are drinking awful early in the morning.. and its not coffee... They are having problems even finding the COC and its no where near 9XX anything.. the lowest I see on the last run is 1009.





They need to go to the north side of the storm, thats where winds should be around 40-50 mph. with pressures down to 1000 mlb. or lower. The center of circulation is right on the southern part of the convective ball (CDO)
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7387
1315. Stormchaser2007
1:50 PM GMT on October 22, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:
Pressure 991 with 70 mph winds! WOW!


Not quite

H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1010mb (29.83 inHg) - Extrapolated

D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 37kts (~ 42.6mph)
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15889

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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.