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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928. Grenada
4:25 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Just had a smattering of rain with a gentle breeze and spoke to someone in the North of Grenada who told me it had been raining this am but not much more so far. How lucky were we? Stay safe all in St.Lucia and St. Vincent.

(Hope I'm OK posting this stuff here :) )
Member Since: August 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 96
927. melaniestx
4:17 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
getting first rain bands in St. Croix USVI
Member Since: January 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 25
926. Mixed
4:11 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Looks Like St Lucia Is Going To Get The North Eastern Side Of The Storm, Thats Not Good Because Quite A Bit Of Damage Has Occured On This Island Already, A Couple Big Trees Have Gone Down Near Me.
Member Since: August 9, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 18
925. hydrus
3:52 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting tropicfreak:


Like Fay, over land?
lol Yeah, and quite a few others...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20492
924. wunderkidcayman
3:46 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
I think Tomas will pull off a Ivan/Dean intensity trick and I think Tomas will pull a Ivan track up to 80-81W thereafter I think that he will recurve into Central Cuba and Bahamas maybe like Paloma after it left cayman Brac

(with the Paloma track I expect it to go out to open atlantic instead of turning around
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 10986
922. 954FtLCane
3:45 PM GMT on October 30, 2010

Hurricane Tomas' Eye is about ready to hit St Vincent
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921. weatherwatcher12
3:44 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Eye becoming more visible and defined.


Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
920. scott39
3:44 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Look how Richard was forecasted to curve in the first couple of days of developement. Im not buying into the trough until it gets closer in the forecast. Caribbean TCs are much harder to forecast.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6730
919. 1900hurricane
3:43 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
NEW BLOG!!!!!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11665
918. MiamiHurricanes09
3:43 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Ragged eye beginning to clear out on visible satellite imagery.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
917. Neapolitan
3:41 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
NEW BLOG
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13455
916. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:41 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
up next St Vincent direct strike
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
915. kmanislander
3:39 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting 954FtLCane:

Kman now it will only go over 1 island, not much impeding him.
BTW....My stepfathers name was Tomas and I hated him!!!


St Vincent has 4000 foot peaks. Some disruption to the core will result but not enough to do a lot of damage to the circulation.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
914. weatherwatcher12
3:39 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting kmanislander:


Right now, a close call for Jamaica, possibly turning North as near as 50 miles East and swinging North near the tip of the Barahona peninsula. This is very far out in time as you know and will depend on the evolution of the trough / ridge interaction late next week.

As you know long range track forecast errors by even the professionals can be off by hundreds of miles so take this with a grain of salt for now. I do however see Tomas making it quite deep into the central Caribbean before lifting out. The high over the GOM continues to push East and the last few satellite frames seem to suggest that the heading may have flattened a bit to 285 from 290 degrees.

The eye is clearing out quickly and headed directly for St Vincent. They will take a hard blow from this.

Thanks, will keep an eye on it for now.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
912. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:38 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting 954FtLCane:
\
we were listening to the radio feed, it sounded like a bunch of trees down and aluminum roofs off but not much else.
lets hope thats all they still got a few more hrs yet
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
911. weatherwatcher12
3:38 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting scott39:
wont the high ridge keep Tomas S of Haiti?

That's what the NHC is thinking, but the possible curve at the end of the forecast period is leaving things very ify.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
910. kmanislander
3:37 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting weatherwatcher12:

Hey Kman, what are your thoughts trackwise?


Right now, a close call for Jamaica, possibly turning North as near as 50 miles East and swinging North near the tip of the Tiburon peninsula. This is very far out in time as you know and will depend on the evolution of the trough / ridge interaction late next week.

As you know long range track forecast errors by even the professionals can be off by hundreds of miles so take this with a grain of salt for now. I do however see Tomas making it quite deep into the central Caribbean before lifting out. The high over the GOM continues to push East and the last few satellite frames seem to suggest that the heading may have flattened a bit to 285 from 290 degrees.

The eye is clearing out quickly and headed directly for St Vincent. They will take a hard blow from this.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
908. MiamiHurricanes09
3:35 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Recon just transmitted a Vortex message. A lot of missing data though due to computer problems.

I also wouldn't completely trust the validity of this data.

The 995mb reading for minimum surface pressure was based off a dropsonde that was supposedly dropped in the eye. They found 29mph surface winds in the eye.

000
URNT12 KNHC 301515 CCA
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL212010
A. 30/1406Z
B. 13 deg 03 min N
060 deg 26 min W
C. 700 mb 3047 M
D. 53 KT
E. 124 deg 07 NM
F. 244 deg 45 KT
G. 134 deg 37 NM
H. 995 MB
I. -
J. -
K. -
L. -
M. -
N. -
O. -
P. AF300 0222A TOMAS OB 16
MAX FL LVL WIND OUT BOUND 67 KT N QUAD 1416Z
MISSING DATA I THRU O BECAUSE OF COM PROBLEMS
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907. scott39
3:35 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
wont the high ridge keep Tomas S of Haiti?
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906. 954FtLCane
3:35 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
any word from barbadoes this am how they doing
\
we were listening to the radio feed, it sounded like a bunch of trees down and aluminum roofs off but not much else.
Member Since: September 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
905. Relix
3:34 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Feeling pretty safe here at PR, though I would prefer it to go directly over us than go through Haiti. They don't deserve this =/
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904. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:33 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
any word from barbadoes this am how they doing
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
903. MiamiHurricanes09
3:32 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
902. Orcasystems
3:31 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Ok, some of us have to go to work :(
Complete Update



AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
901. 954FtLCane
3:31 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting kmanislander:
Tomas is now very nicely stacked vertically with the surface and flight level centers near perfectly aligned.

My suspicion is that he will hit CAT 2 ahead of schedule. Although those islands are too small to really impede development many are mountainous and will impart some friction and disruption to the developing core. Once Tomas hits the open sea he will have a clear run for several days.




Kman now it will only go over 1 island, not much impeding him.
BTW....My stepfathers name was Tomas and I hated him!!!
Member Since: September 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
900. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:30 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
T.C.F.W
21L/H/T/C1
MARK
13.10n/60.33w
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
899. weatherwatcher12
3:29 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting kmanislander:
Tomas is now very nicely stacked vertically with the surface and flight level centers near perfectly aligned.

My suspicion is that he will hit CAT 2 ahead of schedule. Although those islands are too small to really impede development many are mountainous and will impart some friction and disruption to the developing core. Once Tomas hits the open sea he will have a clear run for several days.




Hey Kman, what are your thoughts trackwise?
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
898. 954FtLCane
3:26 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
anyone have a st vincent radio link?
Member Since: September 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
897. atmoaggie
3:24 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting Grothar:


Wow, all the way to 1983? Everthing must have still been in black & white. (Morning, hydrus)
Even that must have seemed amazing to you, Grothar. Question: Do you see sepia-toned in the mirror?
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
896. 954FtLCane
3:24 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting goldmind:
Question - After thomas passes the leeward islands is gonna explode?

yes after he passes the Leeward islands will explode... quite a scary scenario!
But yes it looks like Tomas will bomb.... thank god it isn't September... so sorry for those island countries that might be in the path. Best scenario right now is for Tomas to shoot the gap between Haiti & Cuba.
Member Since: September 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
895. kmanislander
3:24 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
St. Vincent is a volcanic island of steep mountain ridges, valleys and waterfalls. The backbone of mountains extends from north to south. The north is dominated by the La Soufriere volcano which reaches a height of 4,040 ft (1,219 meters); its last eruption was in 1979. The mountain range drops steeply on the western coast and slopes more gently on the eastern coast. Other mountain peaks on St. Vincent are Morne Garu, Grand Bonhomme, and Mount St. Andrews.



Source
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894. largeeyes
3:23 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Winds over land on Saint Lucia
East North East 59 knots.
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893. goldmind
3:23 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Another question - The wind shear is low, The caribbean sea is so vast and so hot, it's possible thomas be another "Megi"?
I hope not.
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892. sunlinepr
3:22 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting goldmind:
Question - After thomas passes the leeward islands is gonna explode?


There's enough thermal energy compared to the Gom that has cooled down - to intensify...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9693
891. SouthDadeFish
3:21 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
The recent trends on radar are concerning. The southern eyewall filled in quickly.
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890. kmanislander
3:20 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Tomas is now very nicely stacked vertically with the surface and flight level centers near perfectly aligned.

My suspicion is that he will hit CAT 2 ahead of schedule. Although those islands are too small to really impede development many are mountainous and will impart some friction and disruption to the developing core. Once Tomas hits the open sea he will have a clear run for several days.



Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
889. melaniestx
3:19 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting Grothar:


How could you forget Lenny?


Thanks for bringing Lenny up.... what was Omar's track?
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888. tropicfreak
3:18 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting hydrus:
I dunno...I have seen tropical storms that had an eye more pronounced then Tomas,s..


Like Fay, over land?
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887. sunlinepr
3:17 PM GMT on October 30, 2010


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886. MiamiHurricanes09
3:17 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
The eye of Tomas is just a few miles from moving onshore over the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia. St. Vicent and the Grenadines are currently experiencing the eastern semicircle of the eyewall while St. Lucia is experiencing the northwestern semicircle of the eyewall. The worst conditions are yet to come however since data from Recon reveals that the strongest winds are located around the eastern and northeastern semicircles.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
885. hydrus
3:14 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting goldmind:
Question - After thomas passes the leeward islands is gonna explode?
That is my pediction..I hope I eat crow..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20492
884. hydrus
3:13 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Quoting tropicfreak:


Cat 1 canes don't have fully developed eyes yet, once it gets to Cat 2 we will see one.
I dunno...I have seen tropical storms that had an eye more pronounced then Tomas,s..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20492
883. goldmind
3:12 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Question - After thomas passes the leeward islands is gonna explode?
Member Since: September 12, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 21
882. MysteryMeat
3:11 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
Gotta love how some people can see the silver lining in a eyewall cloud -- at least they get to feel superior to the downcasters. This storm might wreak some serious havoc on Jamaica, Cuba and/or Hispaniola, but at least you get to be the winner on the internet! Yay!
Member Since: September 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 260
881. Patrap
3:10 PM GMT on October 30, 2010


The following is an open letter from Richard Lumarque, the extraordinary man who headed up our field team in Haiti after the earthquake in January. For those of you who followed our efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake you will remember the amazing job that Richard, his cousin Tabitha and their team did in the early days; they worked miracles and without them we would have accomplished a mere fraction of what we did.




Portlight Featured Wunderground Entry


Richard in Haiti earlier this year doing the Best of Works..






Help us Bring some Joy to those without much this season..




HAITI TOYS FOR CHRISTMAS DREAM



Dear Paul,


I want to start by thanking you for the interest and sincere caring your organization has shown to the underprivileged and poor people of the island of Haiti.


After being devastated by the earthquake of January 12th of this year where countless people lost their lives and forcing countless men, women and children to live in sub-human conditions, the survivors are now faced with an outbreak of cholera that threatens all of them. With the holidays coming, we want, once again, to come up with a way to give these people a ray of hope. We want to remind them that Portlight Strategies and the good-hearted people of America have not forgotten about them; we want them to know that we share their pain and suffering.


If you watch the news as I do, you will see that the big NGOs with millions of dollars in donations are still facing the same difficulties they have since the earthquake: supplies are locked up in warehouses and not being distributed in a timely manner to help the people that need these supplies the most. After doing some research on how we can make a difference for the Holidays, I think we can accomplish the following objective:


The Sean Penn foundation had taken a special interest in a camp located in the city of Petionville that holds about 40,000 of the homeless. He started a school for primary education which provides about 250 primary school students an opportunity for a quality education. The school was being cared for by another NGO but they too stopped providing the necessary funds to sustain the school. University Quisqueya up to now has been sustaining the operation of the school which employs 8 to 10 teachers with a salary of $400.00US for each teacher. The University is also facing difficult times as the entire University’s buildings had been destroyed by the earthquake.


There is also a school on the outskirts of the city of Jacmel called Centre Educatif de Fond Jean-Noel that provides education for about 600 students from Kindergarten through High School; the students’ ages vary from 5 to 18 years old. They even have a computer lab. That school was also supported by the efforts of the University Quisqueya and again, the funding has dried up. Soon, these 800 students will be without any opportunity for organized education unless we do something. These children are in desperate need of our help.


My dream is to be able to raise enough funds to pay for the salary of about 12 to 15 teachers for the next year. $5,000.00US a month for 12 months = $60,000.00US. In addition to the salaries for the staff, they need all kinds of school supplies; backpacks, pens, pencils, notepads and even lunch boxes. My further hope is to raise enough to buy some simple Christmas presents for about 800 students to bring a small ray of hope to these children whose lives have been forever changed by this tragedy.


Also, Haiti has been without electricity for about a month now. They need good quality flashlights, batteries and lanterns to sustain them. The kids are so desperate for a decent education that they are willing to learn with a lamp.


In the face of this devastation, we can make a difference. The key to the future of Haiti will be the children we educate today; these children are the future leaders of Haiti. They can lead these people to progress, democracy and a government without corruption but only if they receive the education that we in America take for granted.


I pray that we can find God’s Grace and Blessing in this endeavor and accomplish this task. We have very little time to accomplish this task but if we give of ourselves, we can do it.


Thank you for all your support, love and caring. God bless Portlight and God Bless the United States of America.

Sincerely,

Richard Lumarque
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879. weatherlover94
3:07 PM GMT on October 30, 2010
no change to the forecast path or intensity
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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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