Strengthening Tomas headed for the Lesser Antilles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:27 AM GMT on October 30, 2010

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Tropical Storm Tomas has exploded into existence in spectacular fashion, becoming the nineteenth named storm of this amazingly active 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. I'm reporting to you live from the National Hurricane Center tonight, where forecasters are working hard to stay abreast of Tomas' intensification. Three hurricane specialists are on duty tonight--Dave Roberts, who is handling Tropical Storm Shary, and Robbie Berg and Dan Brown, who are focusing on Tomas. The Hurricane Hunters have just left Tomas, as of 8pm EDT, and they found a significant increase in winds. Winds at their 1500 foot flight level were 70 mph, and surface winds as measured by the SFMR instrument were near 60 mph. This supports an increase in Tomas' winds to 60 mph in tonight's 8pm EDT public advisory. Since this is such a large increase in intensity from what was forecast--Tomas was not supposed to have 60 mph winds for another 24 hours--this necessitates issuance of a special advisory package. A full set of forecast maps, a marine advisory, wind probability forecast, and a discussion just went out to the world. While all this was occurring, several phone calls to Barbados, St. Lucia, and Martinique were made, alerting the islands to the fact that a Hurricane Warning may be required with the 11pm advisory tonight. NHC has both French speaking and Spanish speaking meteorologists on staff that can coordinate with the islands that don't have English as their main language. I listened in on a 5-minute conversation in French between the weather service in Martinique and NHC meteorologist Mike Tichacek, as they discussed when Martinique may want to issue a Hurricane Warning.


Figure 1. Warren VonWerne (right) of CARCAH presents the latest data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunters to hurricane specialist Robbie Berg.

Intensity forecast for Tomas
The forecasters at NHC are puzzling over the latest intensity forecasts for Tomas. The latest intensity forecast from the GFDL, HWRF, and SHIPS models are not that impressive, and they keep Tomas as a strong tropical storm or weak hurricane for the next five days. The wind shear forecast from SHIPS is particularly odd--the latest 18Z forecast predicts high wind shear of 20+ knots beginning Sunday morning, and the previous SHIPS forecast held wind shear below 15 knots for the next five days. The latest runs by the GFS, ECMWF, and UKMET models all show a very favorable environment for intensification over the next five days over the Caribbean, with Tomas positioning itself beneath an upper level high in a light wind shear environment. The best bet is that Tomas will intensify into a major hurricane over the Central Caribbean by early next week.


Figure 2. NHC meteorologist Mike Tichacek discusses the latest intensity forecast for Tomas with the Martinique weather service (in French.) In the background, hurricane specialist Dave Roberts works on advisories for Tropical Storm Shary.

Track forecast for Tomas
After Tomas reaches the central Caribbean 4 - 6 days from now, there are two possible track scenarios depicted by the models--a continued westerly motion towards Nicaragua, or a sharp turn to the north, with a track over Hispaniola or Puerto Rico. Steering currents will be weak, and we'll just have to wait and see how the steering currents evolve.

Tomas' formation location unprecedented this late in the season
Tomas' formation ties 2010 with 1995 and 1887 for 3rd place for most number of named storms in an Atlantic hurricane season. Only 2005 (28 named storms) and 1933 (21 named storms) were busier. Atlantic hurricane records go back to 1851, though there were likely many missed named storms prior to the beginning of satellite coverage in the mid-1960s.

The formation of a tropical storm so far south and east this late in the season is unprecedented in the historical record; no named storm has ever been present east of the Lesser Antilles (60°W) and south of 12°N latitude so late in the year. Hurricane Six of 1896 came close--it was also a tropical storm south of 12°N and east of 60°W on October 29, but nine hours earlier in the day. That storm recurved to the north and missed the Lesser Antilles. Tomas' track through the southern Lesser Antilles so late in the year is unprecedented. There have been only two other tropical storms that formed after October 15 south of 12°N and east of 60°W: Hurricane Jose, which was a tropical storm in that region on October 18, 1999, and Tropical Storm Nicolas, on October 16, 2003. Tomas most reminds me of Hurricane Joan of 1988, which was a tropical storm on October 14 near Tomas' current location, and later strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane that hit Nicaragua.

Another unusual aspect of Tomas' formation is that we now have two simultaneous named storms in the Atlantic Ocean on October 29. There have been only four hurricane seasons since 1851 that have had two simultaneous named storms later in the year. The record was set way back in 1887, when Hurricane Eighteen and Tropical Storm Nineteen were both active on December 8. There were three years that had simultaneous November named storms: 1932, 1961, and 2001.

Next update
I'll have more late Saturday morning.

Jeff Masters

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A little south from the advisory but, that map was created before the Nward reform of the center. NHC adjusted but track reasoning remained the same.
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Quoting hydrus:
I hate to even breath a hint of this, but if Tomas were to move that far west, there would be big changes in the forecasts..


It's spot on the advisory from the NHC.

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Quoting TampaSpin:

No way, any system penetrates that strong front from the East... Conus is open from the NW coast.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
A little outdated however, it seems the same rules still apply.

I hate to even breath a hint of this, but if Tomas were to move that far west, there would be big changes in the forecasts..
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Quoting victoriahurricane:
I know wishing a storm on anyone is a terrible thing to do and is frowned upon on this blog, but I don't care where this thing goes, just don't hit Haiti, anyone but them. They've had huge problems and with millions still living in tents on the streets a Major Hurricane bearing down on them will result in 1000's lost or even more. Please Tomas go ANYWHERE BUT HAITI. The death toll and destruction would be unprecedented.


We have a situation being dependent on chance, due to a number of variables that already are on the way interacting between them. It's nature and mankind has no way of altering this.... If the resulting consequence of those variables is to move Thomas over any particular area, that will be.... Sure, we all want it to stay away from Haiti.... with the Cholera epidemic and the earthquake crisis is enough.....
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Quoting victoriahurricane:


I'd venture a guess that a major hurricane affecting Haiti right now would have a 10 or even 100 times higher death toll then Katrina, people living out in the open under tents with 110 mph+ winds blowing debris around like crazy isn't exactly protection.
That would probally be like something out of a disaster horror movie.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


Not really sure how that is possible with the strong front coming down. There is a small chance that any part of the US is affected and if there was a spot that could be, it would be Florida.


Not really sure what strong front you see.....







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369. 7544
graet out flow new conv buiding around the center hurricane on the way may even make it to 80 or 81 west at this point
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Quoting hydrus:
It is almost Halloween.


Hope you have a whale of a time!!
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367. JRRP
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5481
A little outdated however, it seems the same rules still apply.

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Quoting Grothar:


Now that is scary, hydrus!
It is almost Halloween.
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coc...or eye feature now coming into view on radar...looks to pass just south of barbados...looks like there is an attempt of an eyewall ...the western side that you can see is still pretty weak...but i have a feeling in the upcoming 6-12 hours when the convection completely surrounds and/or is overtop the coc...look out...

will check back in the morning...goodnight...stay safe islanders...tomas, BEHAVE...

night...
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Exsacally.And I'm not trying to be selfish but Haiti doesn't really need this.Just like how some of you all say you don't want the U.S being affected by a hurricane..the same can be said for Haiti.IF Haiti is affected by Tomas then Tomas could be the deadliest atlantic hurricane since Katrina.And that would put the burden on alot of people.


I'd venture a guess that a major hurricane affecting Haiti right now would have a 10 or even 100 times higher death toll then Katrina, people living out in the open under tents with 110 mph+ winds blowing debris around like crazy isn't exactly protection.
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Quoting hydrus:


Now that is scary, hydrus!
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Quoting TampaSpin:


If i had to put a guess on a ConUs landfall currently. Looks like a Northern Gulf Coast problem coming.


Not really sure how that is possible with the strong front coming down. There is a small chance that any part of the US is affected and if there was a spot that could be, it would be Florida.
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Quoting Bubu77:
Je sens que demain en Martinique on va avoir une très mauvaise surprise !!

La population est à peine prévenue par Météo France !!!!


Very very bad !!!


Stay vigilant.

Translation

I feel that in Martinique tomorrow we will have a very nasty surprise! The population is barely prevented by Météo France!!
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Quoting flsky:
I've been searching backward in the blog to find the reference to the QuickSat situation. It occurred to me at the time of the controversy that "opposers" were more interested with NHC's image than what was best for the North Atlantic and those who are continually impacted. I'm sorry, but I don't remember the person's name who was ousted, but I imagine he's feeling somewhat vindicated at this point - although, probably with remorse. I'm very sorry that internal politics played such a role.
These was a terrible decision and all of us who are threatened with seasonal storms are realizing the repercussions. OK, done preaching/complaining - I really should go get some sleep.... Hope I wake to better news.


Bill Proenza, a very nice and smart guy.
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Quoting 7544:
looks at tampas chart if tomas goes further north so fla gets in the cone things are getting interesting i dont think so fla is 100 % out of this just yet as tomas gets bigger and bigger


If i had to put a guess on a ConUs landfall currently. Looks like a Northern Gulf Coast problem coming.
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Quoting victoriahurricane:
I know wishing a storm on anyone is a terrible thing to do and is frowned upon on this blog, but I don't care where this thing goes, just don't hit Haiti, anyone but them. They've had huge problems and with millions still living in tents on the streets a Major Hurricane bearing down on them will result in 1000's lost or even more. Please Tomas go ANYWHERE BUT HAITI. The death toll and destruction would be unprecedented.
Exsacally.And I'm not trying to be selfish but Haiti doesn't really need this.Just like how some of you all say you don't want the U.S being affected by a hurricane..the same can be said for Haiti.IF Haiti is affected by Tomas then Tomas could be the deadliest atlantic hurricane since Katrina.And that would put the burden on alot of people.
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355. flsky
I've been searching backward in the blog to find the reference to the QuickSat situation. It occurred to me at the time of the controversy that "opposers" were more interested with NHC's image than what was best for the North Atlantic and those who are continually impacted. I'm sorry, but I don't remember the person's name who was ousted, but I imagine he's feeling somewhat vindicated at this point - although, probably with remorse. I'm very sorry that internal politics played such a role.
These was a terrible decision and all of us who are threatened with seasonal storms are realizing the repercussions. OK, done preaching/complaining - I really should go get some sleep.... Hope I wake to better news.
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352. 7544
looks at tampas chart if tomas goes further north so fla gets in the cone things are getting interesting i dont think so fla is 100 % out of this just yet as tomas gets bigger and bigger
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Nasty forecast....SUN NIGHT THROUGH MON...TROPICAL AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS
WITHIN 120 NM N SEMICIRCLE 90 NM S SEMICIRCLE EXPANDING TO 135
NM N SEMICIRCLE AND 105 NM S SEMICIRCLE. HIGHEST WINDS 90 KT
GUST TO 110 KT INCREASING TO 95 KT GUST TO 115W MON. SEAS 12 FT
OR GREATER WITHIN 180 NM N SEMICIRCLE AND 120 NM S SEMICIRCLE
WITH SEAS TO 25 FT. ELSEWHERE BETWEEN 63W AND 74W WINDS 20 TO 33
KT. SEAS 8 TO 12 FT. REMAINDER OF AREA NE TO E WINDS 15 TO 20
KT. SEAS 6 TO 8 FT. NUMEROUS SQUALLS FROM 13N TO 17N BETWEEN 64W
AND 72W.
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I know wishing a storm on anyone is a terrible thing to do and is frowned upon on this blog, but I don't care where this thing goes, just don't hit Haiti, anyone but them. They've had huge problems and with millions still living in tents on the streets a Major Hurricane bearing down on them will result in 1000's lost or even more. Please Tomas go ANYWHERE BUT HAITI. The death toll and destruction would be unprecedented.
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Quoting Bubu77:
Je sens que demain en Martinique on va avoir une très mauvaise surprise !!

La population est à peine prévenue par Météo France !!!!


Very very bad !!!
huh/????
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Quoting JLPR2:
Very nice or very ugly, depending on the point of view. XD


Very nice for gloom-and-doom caster,and very ugly for people in his path.
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ciao tutti..wow tomas is looking very impressive
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Je sens que demain en Martinique on va avoir une très mauvaise surprise !!

La population est à peine prévenue par Météo France !!!!


Very very bad !!!
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Quoting CaneWarning:
Ok, I totally stopped watching the tropics and just got a text message about Tomas. WOW. I thought the season was supposed to be a bust???


Looks like it's not.
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342. JRRP
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5481
341. 7544
how far west could tomas get before it gets pushed ne by that trof and if tomas stalls could this front pass him by tia tomas is going to be textbook strom
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Quoting JLPR2:


Looks like Tomas is ready to go nuts, convection starting to fire over the circulation.


It is!
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g nite all going to bed ck back in the am
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Looks like a skull with a beard..
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reminds me of that rap...how did it go..... oh yeah , here comes the boom here comes the boom
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Ok, I totally stopped watching the tropics and just got a text message about Tomas. WOW. I thought the season was supposed to be a bust???
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335. flsky
Quoting TampaSpin:



NOt just the GFS now......HOLLY CRAP. Tomas is hemmed in and no way out......the HIGH is gonna block him in now it appears.....GEEESH

I wonder if there is any way to bring some ships in to evacuate as many Haitians as possible. Somebody has to do something if this track looks likely, or this country is going to experience the worst imaginable.
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The stats basically looked at when seasons formed a certain number of storms and compared the averages to this season. The conclusion was that this seasons was unlikely to produce more than 16 storms. I thought for sure that the number would be less than the forecasts. Since we're at 19 now, obviously, it was either wrong or this is just a rare occurrence.
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333. ryang
BOOM!!! NOT GOOD!!


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I remember reading some stats about this season. They looked dependable. It would have made you believe we'd be lucky to see 16 storms this year. And we've seen 19. Just goes to show that for a laymen... never believe anything you read until you AREN'T a laymen anymore.
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Quoting barbadosjulie:
National shut down has just been issued in Barbados. All persons must be in doors by 1230am.


He's making a run tonight Julie, best of luck.
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Quoting flsky:

What can one say about this post. Sheesh


First case of Niccasting I've ever seen. Not cool.
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329. SLU
Looks like Tomas is trying to punch out and eye about 90 miles ESE of Barbados. That can only mean one thing folks ...

Link

The plane is one the way and it should confirm our worst fears shortly.
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Quoting flsky:
I'm starting a new job tomorrow and I really should be asleep by now. It's amazing how addictive reading this blog can be.


LOL to your last. And agreed on this. It keeps me up way past my bedtime frequently.
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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.