Unprecedented Hurricane Tomas pounding the Lesser Antilles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:38 PM GMT on October 30, 2010

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Hurricane Tomas, an unprecedented Lesser Antilles hurricane for so late in the season, is bearing down on the islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent with Category 1 winds of 75 mph. Recent radar imagery from the Martinique radar shows that Tomas is still in the organizing stage, with an eyewall that just closed off, and a weak area of echoes on the south side, due to modest wind shear of 10 knots caused by southerly upper-level winds. The Hurricane Hunters reported top surface winds in the northern eyewall near 75 mph. St.Lucia figures to get the worst blow from Tomas, as this island will experience the strong right-front quadrant of the storm--the north eyewall. Winds on the island were sustained at 46 mph, gusting to 67 mph, at 11am EDT. Winds at Barbados peaked at 37 mph, gusting to 56 mph, early this morning, and the pressure bottomed out at 994 mb. Satellite loops of Tomas show a large and well-organized Cape Verdes-type hurricane, with good upper level outflow on all sides except the south, and an impressive amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. This is a very dangerous hurricane that is just beginning to get going. You can follow the progress of Tomas through the islands today with our wundermap zoomed in on St. Lucia.


Figure 1. Morning radar image from the Martinique radar shows the eye of Tomas moving between the islands of St, Lucia to the north and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the south. The southern portion of the eyewall had just closed off with this image. Image credit: Meteo France.

Intensity forecast for Tomas
Now that the eyewall of Tomas has completely closed off, a period of steady and possibly rapid intensification lasting until Sunday afternoon is likely. The intensification rate may then be slowed by an increasing flow of southwesterly upper-level winds, which are expected to bring dry air and a moderate 15 - 20 knots of wind shear to Tomas Sunday through Tuesday, according to the latest SHIPS model forecast. Shear is then expected to relent, allowing more intensification on Wednesday. Water temperatures are a record warm 29.5°C and the Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential--a measure of the total heat content of the ocean--is a very high 100 kJ/cm^2, which is very favorable for rapid intensification. I expect the Tomas will strengthen to a Category 3 or 4 hurricane by Wednesday.


Figure 2. Hurricane specialists Robbie Berg (background) and Dan Brown (foreground) discuss the latest data on Tomas last night at the National Hurricane Center.

Track forecast for Tomas
The computer models have come into better agreement this morning that after Tomas reaches the central Caribbean 4 - 5 days from now, a turn to the north or northeast is likely, in response to a strong trough of low pressure expected to develop over the Eastern U.S. The exact timing of this turn to the north or northeast is difficult to predict at this time, as steering currents will be weak in the Caribbean after Tomas passes through the Lesser Antilles today and Sunday. At this time, is appears that the Dominican Republic and Haiti are most at risk from a strike by Tomas, though the storm could move as far west as Jamaica, or as far east as the northern Lesser Antilles Islands.


Figure 3. Hurricane specialist Dan Brown computes Tomas' radius of tropical storm force winds using the old-fashioned paper track plot and dividers technique. Hurricane specialists at NHC commonly use a paper track plot to mark all storm center fixes and compute the current motion of the storm. A storm's current heading and speed in NHC advisories is usually a 12-hour average of the motion up until the final fix position.

Tomas, Shary, and the 2010 hurricane season in perspective
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 intensification of Shary and Tomas into hurricanes today brings the total number of hurricanes this season to twelve, tying 2010 with 1969 and 1887 for second place for most hurricanes in a season. The record is held by 2005 with fifteen hurricanes, and I don't think we'll beat that record this year!

The formation of Tomas 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 (61.5°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 61.5°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 61.5°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 a storm I flew into with the Hurricane Hunters--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. According to Chenoweth (2008), Tomas is the first tropical storm to cross through the Lesser Antilles Islands south of 16°N this late in the year since 1724. In that year, a tropical storm on 12 November crossed the islands at 13.7°N 61.5°W, and later became a hurricane that affected Jamaica. There was also a hurricane on 30 October 1671 that crossed 61.5°W at 13.3°N, and did damage on Barbados.

Another unusual aspect of Tomas' formation is that we now have two simultaneous hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean on October 30. There has been only one hurricane season since 1851 that had had two simultaneous hurricanes later in the year--1932, when Hurricane Ten and Hurricane Eleven both existed November 7 - 10. Today is also the 5th latest date in the season that there have been two simultaneous named storms in the Atlantic. 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.

References
Chenoweth, M. and D. Divine (2008), "A document-based 318-year record of tropical cyclones in the Lesser Antilles, 1690-2007", Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9, doi:10.1029/2008GC002066.

Next update
I'll have more on Sunday by 3pm EDT. I'm headed home to Michigan today, after a very valuable week here at the National Hurricane Center. The experience gave me a new appreciatation for just how good the forecasters are at what they do. NHC's hurricane experts are truly world-class, and we are very fortunate to have such a talented group of hard-working forecasters keeping us informed on the dangers we face from Atlantic hurricanes.

Jeff Masters

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1093. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting TampaSpin:


Is it big fish in little pond or little fish in big pond.......ROFLMAO
are you a smart lugensquash or a stupid lugensquash
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Quoting scott39:
So your not sold on the trough picking up Tomas?


I am not sure where it is going. But, for any idiot to say its not going in no way toward the GOM is really an idiot. Looking at the models currently some are now trending toward a much weaker trough and what trough there is lifting out quickly being replaced by high pressure. It is very foolish to say that there is no way going into the GOM currently.
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1091. Grothar
Quoting JLPR2:


Good, how are things over there?


Weather here has been great, almost too nice. Perfect day. Looks like you dodged a bullet.
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1090. Gorty
Last call for tonight. I am on FB and twitter. Shoot me a PM if you want to add each other and/or follow each other. Its petty exciting so far, 31 people from here I am now friends with on FB. Well, not all 31 yet, but closing in.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


I would much rather it went into the GOM then hit Haiti.


i believe you meant "than" :)
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Did you guys hear about the unconfirmed death reports coming in from St. Vincent, tragic....
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1086. JLPR2
Also the eyewall is now open on the south side.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
1085. JLPR2
Quoting Grothar:


Hola! How you doing JL?


Good, how are things over there?
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
1084. Grothar
Quoting JLPR2:


LOL!
Ah that was funny. XD


Hola! How you doing JL?
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1083. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Perth
Tropical Cyclone Advice #6
TROPICAL CYCLONE ANGGREK (01U)
12:00 PM WST October 31 2010
======================================

At 11:00 am WST, Tropical Cyclone Anggrek, Category 1 (998 hPa) located at 8.2S 96.3E or about 450 km north of Cocos Island and moving southeast at 2 knots.

Tropical Cyclone Anggrek is expected to continue to intensify during Sunday as it moves southwards towards the Cocos Islands. Gales are not expected on the islands during Sunday, but may develop during Monday as the system moves closer and intensifies. The period of greatest risk will commence on Monday evening, with the system likely to pass close to the islands during Tuesday.

Conditions are favorable for intensification and there is a significant risk that people on the Cocos Islands will experience VERY DESTRUCTIVE wind gusts.

Tropical Cyclone Warning
=========================
A Cyclone WARNING continues for people on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

A full advice/bulletin will be issued by 3:00 pm WST..
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Hey man!


How's Texas?

just read an article about a 12 overtime prep school football game down that way haha

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1081. JLPR2
Models are taking Jamaica out of the equation leaving Haiti and DR with the worse of Tomas.

Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
Quoting JLPR2:


LOL!
Ah that was funny. XD


Is it big fish in little pond or little fish in big pond.......ROFLMAO
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there is an ASP surf tournament right now in PR north coast (slater, irons, etc) and ... we're seein how this one plays out so maybe i get to ride with some of them on the off-tour moments. sweet
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1078. scott39
Quoting TampaSpin:
I dont really care where it goes as long as it does not come toward Me.......guess that makes me selfish. So be it. I really feel for the Haiti people. To bad their government stole all the billions of US funds over the past several years without fixing there Country to withstand such a horrible thing they are going thru.
So your not sold on the trough picking up Tomas?
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wassup homies...

keepin tabs on this one from pr.

some models got it goin in circles and loops... seen it happen before, gonna surf tomas obviously.
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CURACAO 34 X 3( 3) 4( 7) 5(12) 6(18) 2(20) 4(24)
CURACAO 50 X X( X) 1( 1) 1( 2) 2( 4) X( 4) 1( 5)
CURACAO 64 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 1( 1) X( 1) 1( 2)

Still no idea why they have % for Curacao, and not Aruba....or even Bonaire.
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1075. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
late shift checkin in i see
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Tomas is taking his sweet time
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Quoting tornadodude:
\

how you doing?

weather alright?


Doing great, weather's great. Thanks for asking.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
Quoting Grothar:


I was thinking the same thing and also I........


Dang you are a true nite owl.....or a Vampire. Guess this is your time of year to blossom or feed.....LOL
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Quoting tornadodude:
good evening everyone

Hey man!
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1070. JLPR2
Quoting Grothar:


I was thinking the same thing and also I........


LOL!
Ah that was funny. XD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
1068. Grothar
Quoting TampaSpin:
I am so glad i totally ignore some bloggers on here with there totally incomplete stuff we get every 50 post.........ROFLMAO


I was thinking the same thing and also I........
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Good evening.
\

how you doing?

weather alright?
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Quoting tornadodude:
good evening everyone


Good evening.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
good evening everyone
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Quoting Snowfire:
Re 917, 920: So far, I don't see that any storm this year has yet done anything to merit a name retirement. This statistic at least is in sharp contrast to 2005, when by this time we already had 5 retired names racked up.


I think Karl is a potential candidate. But I agree. Some people jump on the "retirement" bandwagon too easily.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
Quoting Snowfire:
Re 917, 920: So far, I don't see that any storm this year has yet done anything to merit a name retirement. This statistic at least is in sharp contrast to 2005, when by this time we already had 5 retired names racked up.

I feel as if Karl should definitely be retired. He was by far the most damaging storm of the year.
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1062. scott39
Quoting Orcasystems:


I would much rather it went into the GOM then hit Haiti.
Anywhere away from Haiti is unfortunate, but can handle it much better than them. Lets hope it doesnt get much more dangerous than it is right now for anybody.
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Re 917, 920: So far, I don't see that any storm this year has yet done anything to merit a name retirement. This statistic at least is in sharp contrast to 2005, when by this time we already had 5 retired names racked up.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Wow.
What a week for Doc Masters to be at the NHC. It's as if Mother Nature herself was giving him a wink and a nod! Holy Cow.
Love the word unprecedented for this.
Any news from Barbados and St. Lucia?


Well said, Chicklit!
I too am delighted for Doc Masters,

and hoping all the best for those in harm's way.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


I would much rather it went into the GOM then hit Haiti.

It all depends on the trough, right now it is heading east and hasn't turned south yet so that's good news for Haiti so far, hopeful it will stay good news.
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1057. JLPR2


Dang! Tomas covers a lot of space. :\
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8499
Agree with u on that one, Orca. Just about anywhere else in the Antilles, the Bahamas, or Central America would cope so much better with this than Hispaniola, esp. Haiti, can right now.
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1055. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting SLU:


Yeah gasa!

Well I just got off the phone with my bro again and he sounded very concerned. The very heavy rain continues which now makes it 7 hours of literally nonstop torrential rain like we've never experienced in St. Lucia in recent memory and he said that he can't being to imagine what St. Lucia will look like in the morning.

The overall picture that is being painted is one of complete devastation. Hurricane Ivan/Grenada like devastation.

Thankfully, we live in a sheltered area from those powerful easterly winds and apart from a few leaks from the windows, the house is completely safe and he said that he believes that the immediate area is safe and that there are no power lines down or damaged homes as far as he can see (albeit in near darkness).
have to wait till services are restore and information gets out by late sunday early monday we will have a better idea of damage then we wait
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
we will find out soon enough


I would much rather it went into the GOM then hit Haiti.
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1053. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting BahaHurican:
Yeah, this is worst case solution for me, since it puts a relatively intact storm in Bahamian waters within a week... also not good for Haiti, which would be on the dirty side, but not as bad as a passage closer to Port-au-Prince...

Right now that trough doesn't look like it's going to amplify as much as the last couple have... will be interesting to see how much pull it's able to assert over Tomas.

It would be really amazing if the worst US landfall of the season turns out to be from a storm originating east of Barbados... lol ... NOT that I'm saying that will happen....
we will find out soon enough
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Complete Update



AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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HurricaneTomas's heading turned northward to (8.1degrees west of) WestNorthWest
from its previous heading of dueWest
H.Tomas's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions increased to ~9.3mph(~15km/h) from its previous travel speed of ~6.7mph(~10.7km/h)
TS.Tomas
30Oct 03amGMT - 12.2n58.4w - 65mph(~104.5km/h) - 997mb - NHC.Adv.#3
30Oct 06amGMT - 12.4n58.8w - 65mph(~104.5km/h) - 997mb - NHC.Adv.#3A
30Oct 09amGMT - 12.9n59.5w - 70mph(~112.7km/h) - 994mb - NHC.Adv.#4
30Oct 12pmGMT - 13.1n60.1w - 70mph(~112.7km/h) - 993mb - NHC.Adv.#4A
H.Tomas
30Oct 03pmGMT - 13.3n60.7w - 75mph(~120.7km/h) - 993mb - NHC.Adv.#5
30Oct 06pmGMT - 13.4n61.0w - 75mph(~120.7km/h) - 992mb - NHC.Adv.#5A
30Oct 09pmGMT - 13.5n61.4w - 75mph(~120.7km/h) - 992mb - NHC.Adv.#6
31Oct 12amGMT - 13.5n61.7w - 90mph(~144.9km/h) - 982mb - NHC.Adv.#7A
31Oct 03amGMT - 13.6n62.1w - 90mph(~144.9km/h) - 982mb - NHC.Adv.#8

Copy&paste 12.2n58.4w, 12.4n58.8w, 12.9n59.5w, 13.1n60.1w, 13.3n60.7w-13.4n61.0w, 13.4n61.0w-13.5n61.4w, 13.5n61.4w-13.5n61.7w, 13.5n61.7w-13.6n62.1w, aua, vqs into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the headings and the distances traveled over the last 12^hours.
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Quoting Chicklit:


That is twisted.


Yes it is LOL
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1049. SLU
Quoting Triniweatherboy:


Yea I realised you are in trinidad now. But I dont hav as much contacts with St. Lucia as you gasah, so keep me up to date because St. Lucia is my second home. Tanx for the updates from Slu though, no matter if its sketchy or not.


Yeah gasa!

Well I just got off the phone with my bro again and he sounded very concerned. The very heavy rain continues which now makes it 7 hours of literally nonstop torrential rain like we've never experienced in St. Lucia in recent memory and he said that he can't being to imagine what St. Lucia will look like in the morning.

The overall picture that is being painted is one of complete devastation.

Thankfully, we live in a sheltered area from those powerful easterly winds and apart from a few leaks from the windows, the house is completely safe and he said that he believes that the immediate area is safe and that there are no power lines down or damaged homes as far as he can see (albeit in near darkness).
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
it goes to just se of the most easterly point in jamaica then shoots the gap between cuba and haiti out over the bahamas it goes
Yeah, this is worst case solution for me, since it puts a relatively intact storm in Bahamian waters within a week... also not good for Haiti, which would be on the dirty side, but not as bad as a passage closer to Port-au-Prince...

Right now that trough doesn't look like it's going to amplify as much as the last couple have... will be interesting to see how much pull it's able to assert over Tomas.

It would be really amazing if the worst US landfall of the season turns out to be from a storm originating east of Barbados... lol ... NOT that I'm saying that will happen....
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Longwave trough loop
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1046. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Chicklit:

whoa.
strengthening is predicted by the NHC over the next 48 hrs.
if the convective cycle is correct we could see a cat 3 before the end of halloween night
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1045. scott39
Quoting CaribBoy:
Link

Slight WSW jog
It does have that look
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That COC looks more defined after the islands....

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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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