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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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.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Won't be long. Western semi is starting to fill in with more concentrated convection. DMAX ought to polish up the job.


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coc...or eye feature now coming into view on radar...looks to pass over or 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 or is overtop the coc...look out...
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Quoting hydrus:
I hope the GFS is wrong..Has Haiti taking a direct hit by a major hurricane in a week..Link



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
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National shut down has just been issued in Barbados. All persons must be in doors by 1230am.
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Quoting Rainwalker:

This evening coming over, on the bus, in the street, people were talking about it. This was around 8:00pm

Oh, I came home just after the advisory was issued so that explains it.
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321. JLPR2
Quoting Grothar:


Looks like Tomas is ready to go nuts, convection starting to fire over the circulation.
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320. 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.
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319. ryang
Quoting KBH:
good for you, howling winds, also raining cats n dogs here


yup....getting progressively worse
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317. KBH
good for you, howling winds, also raining cats n dogs here
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

I thought I was the only one in Jamaica who heard about it because I haven't heard anyone say anything.

This evening coming over, on the bus, in the street, people were talking about it. This was around 8:00pm
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315. flsky
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Agreed. The blog may have at it. How are ya, Sky?

Well, if there wasn't such a late start to the season this year, I would be completely worn out! I guess it's anyone's guess how long this lasts. Hope everyone keeps aware.
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314. KBH
Quoting brohavwx:
Further ... I cannot help but reflect on the poor guy who was put in charge of the NHC or whatever and tried to make a case for a QUIKSCAT replacement ... he was torpedoed out of office, BUT while argument was made against his position due to heavy Radar around the US and nearby, we out here still have to wait on (now) ASCAT - I understand that our local Doppler Radar funded by the EU is down at this time. I'll stop here as I don't want to be obscene ...

makes interesting conversation as I often wonder about how proactive NHC is when systems are not directly impactin us territories
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I hope the GFS is wrong..Has Haiti taking a direct hit by a major hurricane in a week..Link
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All I can hope is that it comes nowhere near Belize...last week's Richard was bad enough!
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Quoting Rainwalker:
It is the first time I have ever seen so many people in Jamaica making so much noise over a stom.


I was surprised that it was the lead story on TVJ. I think it's an indication of things to come. With all the rain we've had already, we can't handle anymore. It's going to be serious for us, so better to prepare than to be sorry.
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Quoting hydrus:
Still pockets of the really warm water out there..


At least GOM cooler
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Still pockets of the really warm water out there..
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I just finished hacking together a tracking map for the southern indian ocean. wumail me if you're interested.

(it's not great, but it gets the job done)
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Im out

I'll check in at around 5am

Y'all stay safe.
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Quoting weatherlover94:
wow thomas really went up in a hurry


Went up where? And there is no H in Tomas
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good night all
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I am out.
Stay safe, all.

p.s., no rain........
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303. JLPR2
Very nice or very ugly, depending on the point of view. XD


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wow thomas really went up in a hurry
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next page please..
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DONE!
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Quoting atmoaggie:

This seems fairly fresh.



Link

I think he was talking about Barbados radar.
those are Martinique and Guadeloupe (as you probably know)
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298. flsky
Quoting hurricaneeye:


OK, thanks

It's not safe to listen to absolutes like this with the storm so far out. Keep your own counsel and pay attention to the NHC.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

This seems fairly fresh.



Link
in about 3 hours we will see if Tomas is trying to form an eyewall.
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excuse me...east.

my bad.
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except that gif still has Tomas west of the Windwards in 72 hours.

that has to be old.
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G'Nite All, G'Nite Tomas, G'nite Shary

LATEST: Shary will be extra-tropical late tomorrow.
Tomas Will become major hurricane on sunday night.
November will likely contain Virginie, and Walter.
and We could see a storm in December.

Well, that all Folks!
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Quoting AllyBama:
just 27 more posts to get to a new page that is NORMAL SIZE!!!..ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


Amen !
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What a sweep from that trough from Conus, whipping out moisture from GOM

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Quoting Orcasystems:


Me... behave.. but Mom he started it???


Ok, Beaver, go to room now.
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Quoting brohavwx:
Further ... I cannot help but reflect on the poor guy who was put in charge of the NHC or whatever and tried to make a case for a QUIKSCAT replacement ... he was torpedoed out of office, BUT while argument was made against his position due to heavy Radar around the US and nearby, we out here still have to wait on (now) ASCAT - I understand that our local Doppler Radar funded by the EU is down at this time. I'll stop here as I don't want to be obscene ...

This seems fairly fresh.



Link
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289. JLPR2
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
we still got all of nov and very early dec left in 25 mins we got 31 days to go


Yup, I think 2010 should end up with at least 21 storms, 2 possible ones during November, maybe another hurricane too.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Haven't updated this one in a while, but as it seems we may have some literal-minded visual types on here tonight:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image

;-)


Good timing, Nea. I like the images. Gonna have to improvise, if we get past the W.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
we sould be tied with 95 tomorrow, and should pass it up major hurricane wise on late sunday.
hurricane wise, we shhould be tied
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285. JLPR2
Quoting Hurricaneblast:


You're forgetting 1933 ;) 21 storms formed during that season


Ah yes, sorry, I only saw till 1950. :\

So 2010 actually sharing third place with 1995.
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

The northerly movement you see is the convection, and as confirmed by the NHC 30 mins it is moving at 300 degreed (WNW)


Thanks.... will check....
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Quoting JLPR2:
1- 2005 Atlantic hurricane season 28 15 7
2- 1995 Atlantic hurricane season 19 11 5
2- 2010 Atlantic hurricane season 19 10 5
3- 1969 Atlantic hurricane season 18 12 5

Rather impressive, 2010 is tied with 1995 for the second place for the most named storms during a Atl. Hurricane Season.
we sould be tied with 95 tomorrow, and should pass it up major hurricane wise on late sunday.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
What I've seen so far, is a system that is moving more N than the supposed WNW... Even the forecasted points are SW of where the COC is....
Even local news, like Wapa and Univision are presenting old model diagnostics....


The northerly movement you see is the convection, and as confirmed by the NHC 30 mins it is moving at 300 degrees (WNW)
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Quoting BradentonBrew:


Thanks..and Pottery as well.


Happy to help. Quite a harrowing flight. I don't blame the Doc for hanging up his flight suit. Glad the plane made it through. A narrow escape, for sure.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Haven't updated this one in a while, but as it seems we may have some literal-minded visual types on here tonight:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image

;-)
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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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