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 TORMENTOSO83:
What's the scenario for PR ???


Dr. Masters covered that in his blog comments above. Paragraph 3, "Track forecast for Tomas". It gets a little busy in here during an active storm season. Sometimes questions just get overlooked, or it is still too early to tell. :)
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Amazing.

Only 2 names left in the regular naming list.

  • Virginie (unused)
  • Walter (unused)



Relatively speaking, the damage done could have been a lot worse.
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weird one of Ike..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22640
124. JLPR2
AL, 21, 2010103000, , BEST, 0, 119N, 578W, 50, 999, TS

ready to break 12N before schedule
12HR VT 30/0600Z 12.0N 59.5W 55 KT
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Quoting whybminor:
Does the 8PM fix look too far S to anyone other than me? 8PM fix has it at 11.6N but center of circ on the sat image looks to be just about even with Barbados, ie lat 13. Motion seems to have quite a northward component in it, though that may just reflect a still somewhat disorganized center. I live in SW PR so 100 NM farther north could make a big difference to us.

Don't look at convection alone, it can be very misleading.
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Looking at the floater, it appears the storm is north of the forecast points. What are your thoughts on the possibility of the track being further north than what NWS is forecasting?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I'll go ahead and do Tomas. Shary I haven't done analysis on, and the advisory would not make it out by 11p.m. I'll try though.


If you want, I'll do Shary.
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Does the 8PM fix look too far S to anyone other than me? 8PM fix has it at 11.6N but center of circ on the sat image looks to be just about even with Barbados, ie lat 13. Motion seems to have quite a northward component in it, though that may just reflect a still somewhat disorganized center. I live in SW PR so 100 NM farther north could make a big difference to us.
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Quoting kmanhurricaneman:
holy crap!!!!!!! 4.0 ?????


Final T is only 2.8

Should get higher soon.


Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Re: post 112.
That huge tower of convection is to the NE of the Center. Right?
Does the center relocate under that, or does that get pulled around to the SW eventually?

Looks like Trouble either way, to me.
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Amazing.

Only 2 names left in the regular naming list.

  • Virginie (unused)
  • Walter (unused)

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Karl, Igor, and Julia.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22640
holy crap!!!!!!! 4.0 ?????
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Officially yes, but it was pretty clear that the system evolved into a tropical depression by early morning, or late last night.

Good point though. It is amazing to see how Tomas went from invest to 60mph in just a few hours.


And, it's not over yet, by a long shot. DMAX is waiting in the distance.
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Raw T up to 4.0


UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 30 OCT 2010 Time : 011500 UTC
Lat : 11:46:22 N Lon : 58:10:47 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
2.8 /1002.0mb/ 41.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
2.8 3.0 4.0
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Quoting pottery:

True!
Where do you shelter 1.5 million people, when there are no shelters....
you don't a great kill off is possible there if it heads that way more than 100,000 souls could be lost maybe even more than what the earthquake took
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Miami, do you have time to do the 11PM for our site??? The ATL for Shary and Tomas?
I'll go ahead and do Tomas. Shary I haven't done analysis on, and the advisory would not make it out by 11p.m. I'll try though.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Once he throws that slug around sitting in the NE quad, look out.

>lol. Tomas slings a slug..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22640
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Mind you, this was an invest only a few hours ago and @ 1005mb.
Officially yes, but it was pretty clear that the system evolved into a tropical depression by early morning, or late last night.

Good point though. It is amazing to see how Tomas went from invest to 60mph in just a few hours.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Looks like a decent shift south to me.




Richard has me back on my heels when speaking about troughs and ridges.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
I will have all the graphics on Tomas up on the Website in about 1hr or less. Sorry, been away fishing.


You picked a heck of a time to go fishing?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
104. JRRP
Quoting uncljbnd:
Dominican Republic aint French

claro que no amigo
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Quoting pottery:

Indeed!
What happens next ????


The $64k question. Not looking very good for some. Amazing to behold.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I don't believe so. Once his inner-core becomes established, rapid intensification is most likely to commence. But for the time being, he appears to be intensifying progressively.


Miami, do you have time to do the 11PM for our site??? The ATL for Shary and Tomas?
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What's the scenario for PR ???
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100. JLPR2
Quoting uncljbnd:
Dominican Republic aint French


ha! XD

Puerto Rico's has two main languages, Spanish and English, of course everyone speaks both(sarcasm) LOL!

But some do speak English so no need to tells us anything in Spanish, we will understand English perfectly.
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Looks like a decent shift south to me.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
I will have all the graphics on Tomas up on the Website in about 1hr or less. Sorry, been away fishing.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Misery loves no destination.

True!
Where do you shelter 1.5 million people, when there are no shelters....
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I don't believe so. Once his inner-core becomes established, rapid intensification is most likely to commence. But for the time being, he appears to be intensifying progressively.


Mind you, this was an invest only a few hours ago and @ 1005mb.
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Wow this is nuts..

My best friend is living in Barbados right now, told me that at 5pm it took her 2 hours to make a 5 mile drive home from work...that the sea looked pretty angry. She lives in a first floor apartment right on the ocean..wondering what I should tell her she's from Port of Spain T&T so has never had a hurricane knocking on her door..
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if this thing heads to haiti
my only advice would be
save as many as you can
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For those that said this season is over "UP YOURS" says, "Tomas"!

Evening all. Was in the GOM fishing all day yesterday and the freaking Temparature was 81deg.......HOLLY COW!
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


I believe that was the final straw. Evening Hydrus!
Greetings CaneVet..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22640
Quoting pottery:

I hate to say this, but I would prefer that Tomas passes over you, than over Haiti.


Misery loves no destination.
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Dominican Republic aint French
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Quoting brohavwx:


Oh, that's from me ... I've been so busy with others thing around the house that I had not notice that intensity from my own system ... thanks, and I think you are right but things are somewhat calm here in Barbados right now, some light rain, with variable wind but mostly from the NE-NNE ... telling huh?

Looks like the Frigate birds were on to something yesterday.....
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Quoting Cat5hit:
Is Tomas undergoing RI at the moment?
I don't believe so. Once his inner-core becomes established, rapid intensification is most likely to commence. But for the time being, he appears to be intensifying progressively.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting brohavwx:
From Jeff's comments ...
"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"

Jeff, please, all of the islands in the 'Eastern Caribbean', except Martinique and Guadeloupe being French, are English speaking and no need for Spanish at all, and we don't like being clumped in as 'Latin America'.
Venezuela could also be afected and speak spanish
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Lightning is usually associated with rapidly deepening cyclones.

Tons of it here:


Oh, that's from me ... I've been so busy with others thing around the house that I had not notice that intensity from my own system ... thanks, and I think you are right but things are somewhat calm here in Barbados right now, some light rain, with variable wind but mostly from the NE-NNE ... telling huh?
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Quoting Cat5hit:
Is Tomas undergoing RI at the moment?


Invest to a possible Hurricane in 8 to 12 hrs, just a little, lol.
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Brand new

Starting to consolidate. Still needs another 12 hours or so.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Quoting pottery:

I hate to say this, but I would prefer that Tomas passes over you, than over Haiti.


I'll have to agree, as bad as things are in any of the other islands none could equal Haiti's disaster if it headed towards them. :\
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


For those who are new to the blog: the account of his experience with the HH's in Hugo is a must read. Time well spent.

Evening Pottery. Some wild happenings, eh?

Indeed!
What happens next ????
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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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