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 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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Conditions at buoy BUOYC6TQ6

6TQ6
Temperature: 81 °F
Dew Point: 76 °F
Humidity: 80%
Wind: NE at 36mph
Pressure: 29.89in
Precipitation: -in
Daily Precip.: -in
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
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'.

Thank you.
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Quoting kmanislander:


The hard right turn by Jamaica looks to be the right call for now. We have to see how the timing on the trough / ridge interaction plays out.

I hate to say this, but I would prefer that Tomas passes over you, than over Haiti.
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Quoting hydrus:
Yes...I dont think he flew another hurricane recon mission after Hugo..I am not positively sure though..


I believe that was the final straw. Evening Hydrus!
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I don't think this in an exception to the lightning rule.
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Tomas E-SE of Puerto Rico. looks a little ominous...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19514
Quoting kmanislander:


The hard right turn by Jamaica looks to be the right call for now. We have to see how the timing on the trough / ridge interaction plays out.
yeah i was thinking more around 17 71 but in fact it may be 16 77

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52235
Lightning is usually associated with rapidly deepening cyclones.

Tons of it here:
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
Once he throws that slug around sitting in the NE quad, look out.


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What's the scenario for PR ???
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Quoting pottery:

Not after his experience with Hugo....


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?
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Quoting pottery:

Not after his experience with Hugo....
Yes...I dont think he flew another hurricane recon mission after Hugo..I am not positively sure though..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19514
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


What if his tricks are to attack innocent people at whatever strength he can get to??


??? - Could be... I don't believe I was indicating anything would or wouldn't happen... Just that by Dr. M's post there a few possible scenarios running and that no one expected such a dramatic increase in organization so Tomas, "pulled a fast one"

What's to say a major earthquake splits the Earth in two, killing everyone? Or an asteroid strikes the Earth?

But what I do I know, I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night though...
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Oddly enough, this is the second cyclone named Tomas this year. (The first one was in the southern Pacific in March.) I had thought that the name list makers avoided duplicate names as I've never seen this happen before, but guess not.

Tomas is also a very large storm judging from the cloud pattern. This one came together very quickly.
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Quoting kmanhurricaneman:
hey kmanislander, whatyour take on path in the nw caribbean


The hard right turn by Jamaica looks to be the right call for now. We have to see how the timing on the trough / ridge interaction plays out.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Hurricane warnings should be out at 11pm



Jeez, compared to our last small storms Tomas is huge, weather from it expands from 10N to 17N. O.o
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Quoting pottery:
MAJOR lightening just southeast of Barbados now.

go to 'brohavwx.com' scroll down left panel to 'lightening strikes'

amazing..

indication of rapid dev.
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Next recon is at 8am?
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Thank you Doc. Glad you are there to give us a first hand account. Fascinating stuff! I hope we can look forward to more detailed info, after you are back to your normal routines. Kudos.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


How perfect it is for him, he deserves it. I almost halfway expected a post saying he will be going on one of the Recon flights.

Not after his experience with Hugo....
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Hurricane warnings should be out at 11pm

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.
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MAJOR lightening just southeast of Barbados now.

go to 'brohavwx.com' scroll down left panel to 'lightening strikes'

amazing..
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21L/H/T/C1
MARK
12.13n/58.24w
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52235
Dr. Masters, you are being a little over dramatic. The formation location and direction it's moving are not unprecedented for this date. I completely by accident found a storm that formed in almost the exact same location and went due west. TS 19, the one you linked!

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AH! MH09 you beat me to it. XD

So instead here are the SSTs for Tomas, getting ready to tap into some fuel...
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Quoting pottery:
What a Grand and Fascinating Blog, Dr. Masters.
You must be having a BLAST there.
Enjoy!


How perfect it is for him, he deserves it. I almost halfway expected a post saying he will be going on one of the Recon flights.
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Quoting GainesvilleGator:
Dr. Masters' lucked out in being at the NHC with Tomas blowing up. It must be pretty exciting seeing all the buzz from within the NHC. I am sure that people in Jamaica aren't too comfortable seeing the Tomas Freight Train steaming towards them.
I would like to just check the place out..
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Tomas is starting to form eyewall
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Quoting Dakster:
What a week to get to be at NHC... Wish I could go there...

It is obvious that Tomas has got some tricks up his sleeve.


What if his tricks are to attack innocent people at whatever strength he can get to??
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hey kmanislander, whatyour take on path in the nw caribbean
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Quoting jurakantaino:
No the good Doc is saying that it might turn over Puerto Rico?


The NHC said ridge over us forcing the system westwards while to our south, but if the ridge doesn't come or builds elsewhere well yeah, that would be Dr.M's forecast. :S
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What a week to get to be at NHC... Wish I could go there...

It is obvious that Tomas has got some tricks up his sleeve.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Anyone outside in Barbados should be thinking of finishing up whatever they are doing. One nasty round of weather closing in to be followed a couple of hours later by sustained and very heavy convection accompanied by strong gusty winds to TS force and possibly Hurricane force in short bursts IMO

Good advice.
They are in the worst quadrant too, wind-wise.
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Quoting JLPR2:


Come on Ridge, start building already! XD
No the good Doc is saying that it might turn over Puerto Rico?
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Anyone outside in Barbados should be thinking of finishing up whatever they are doing. One nasty round of weather closing in to be followed a couple of hours later by sustained and very heavy convection accompanied by strong gusty winds to TS force and possibly Hurricane force in short bursts IMO

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
Thanks for the update. Must be fascinating to be in the center during the real McCoy.
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Quoting amd:


the ridge is coming for Puerto Rico:

Mid-Level ridge begins to build tomorrow

Ridge well in place on Sunday


Yep, it's supposed to build over us, but I wont be relaxed until it actually does so.
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hello all, just got a chance to get on the blogg, but been monitoring all day with other computers , wow TOMAS is huge bringing back some memories now........ ok iwont say the i word
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x
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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.

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