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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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
it will become a cat two before first light a cat three before the next light

whoa.
strengthening is predicted by the NHC over the next 48 hrs.
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Quoting scott39:
More than likely the trough will pick up Tomas and send him on his way. Although no one can say that will happen with a 100% guarantee. Lets see what happens in the next few days, instead of saying it will not miss the trough. Right now we need to pray it doesnt make it to a major hurricane for the sake of the people on the Islands.

Well, at least for now the trough has not started any southward movement.
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1040. scott39
More than likely the trough will pick up Tomas and send him on his way. Although no one can say that will happen with a 100% guarantee. Lets see what happens in the next few days, instead of saying it will not miss the trough. Right now we need to pray it doesnt make it to a major hurricane for the sake of the people on the Islands.
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1039. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting sunlinepr:


In open waters....Strengthening period has begun... will climb to higher Cat
it will become a cat two before first light a cat three before the next light
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1038. Skyepony (Mod)
ASCAT caught the heavy convection on the right side of Tomas
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Link

Slight WSW jog
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Pun intended?

hehe (so to speak...)
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
there is more to come we are not done yet


In open waters....Strengthening period has begun... will climb to higher Cat
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1034. Skyepony (Mod)
02S
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Speaking of twisted, I have a work appointment at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning.
goodnight.
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1032. DDR
Quoting pottery:

Cannot see the radar, darn it!
But since you are confirming some rains are on the way, and I have had a day filled with too much of Everything......

see you all tomorrow.

Stay Safe all.

Had a pretty good day as well
Laterz
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1031. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Orcasystems:


I would be a happy camper if the sheer kicked up and just killed it.
things can and will change lets hope they do
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Quoting Chicklit:


That is twisted.


Pun intended?
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 597 Comments: 21114
Quoting caneswatch:


The NHC is doing that in their track too. Hmmmmm, I don't know how it will make a sharp turn like that, it's usually a gradual turn from NW-N-NE.


That is twisted.
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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.

from Dr M...
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1027. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

Sounds right to me.
Except for the Haiti part, unfortunately. That would result in plenty wind, and masses of rain for them.
I hope we are both wrong.
this one has potenial to be the killer of the 2010 season
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1026. pottery
Quoting DDR:

Hi pottery
according to radar its coming!
guess you cant access the radar as yet,showers in all directions.Link

Cannot see the radar, darn it!
But since you are confirming some rains are on the way, and I have had a day filled with too much of Everything......

see you all tomorrow.

Stay Safe all.
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Quoting Michfan:
Someone needs to tell these models that hurricanes don't make sharp turns quite that quickly.


The NHC is doing that in their track too. Hmmmmm, I don't know how it will make a sharp turn like that, it's usually a gradual turn from NW-N-NE.
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Quoting pottery:

Sounds right to me.
Except for the Haiti part, unfortunately. That would result in plenty wind, and masses of rain for them.
I hope we are both wrong.


I would be a happy camper if the sheer kicked up and just killed it.
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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?
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1022. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting sunlinepr:
The 12th Hurricane for the Season is leaving a trail of destruction in its path

St. Lucia Taking a Beating from Tomas


Link


Hurricane Tomas is bearing down on St. Lucia, leaving a path of destruction; including torn off roofs, downed power lines, landslides, trees and debris blocking off some roads.

While....
there is more to come we are not done yet
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1021. DDR
Tobago is getting a squall line right now.
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1020. pottery
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

Sounds right to me.
Except for the Haiti part, unfortunately. That would result in plenty wind, and masses of rain for them.
I hope we are both wrong.
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000
WTNT31 KNHC 310246
TCPAT1
BULLETIN
HURRICANE TOMAS ADVISORY NUMBER 8
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL212010
1100 PM AST SAT OCT 30 2010

...CENTER OF TOMAS NOW OVER THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS STILL OCCURRING IN PORTIONS OF THE WINDWARD
ISLANDS...


SUMMARY OF 1100 PM AST...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...13.6N 62.1W
ABOUT 65 MI...105 KM WNW OF ST. VINCENT
ABOUT 75 MI...120 KM W OF ST. LUCIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...90 MPH...150 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...982 MB...29.00 INCHES


WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY...

THE GOVERNMENT OF BARBADOS HAS CHANGED THE HURRICANE WARNING FOR ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES TO A TROPICAL STORM WARNING.

THE GOVERNMENT OF ST. LUCIA HAS CHANGED THE HURRICANE WARNING FOR ST. LUCIA TO A TROPICAL STORM WARNING.

THE GOVERNMENT OF FRANCE HAS CHANGED THE HURRICANE WARNING FOR MARTINIQUE TO A TROPICAL STORM WARNING.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* DOMINICA
* MARTINIQUE
* ST. LUCIA
* ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
* TOBAGO
* GRENADA

THE GOVERNMENT OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO WILL BE DISCONTINUING THE TROPICAL STORM WARNING FOR TOBAGO AND GRENADA AT MIDNIGHT AST.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE.


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 1100 PM AST...0300 UTC...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE TOMAS WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 13.6 NORTH...LONGITUDE 62.1 WEST. TOMAS IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 9 MPH...15 KM/HR. THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT...FOLLOWED BY A TURN TOWARD THE WEST ON MONDAY.

ON THE FORECAST TRACK...THE CENTER OF TOMAS WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE AWAY FROM THE WINDWARD ISLANDS OVERNIGHT.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 90 MPH...150 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. TOMAS IS A CATEGORY ONE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE. SOME STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 40 MILES...65 KM...FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 175 MILES...280 KM. OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF HOURS...A WIND GUST TO 53 MPH...85 KM/HR...WAS REPORTED ON MARTINIQUE. A WIND GUST TO 49 MPH...80 KM/HR...WAS REPORTED ON BARBADOS WITHIN A RAINBAND WELL TO
THE EAST OF THE CENTER.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 982 MB...29.00 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
WIND...HURRICANE FORCE WINDS HAVE MOVED WEST OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS. TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE STILL OCCURRING ON THE
ISLANDS WITHIN THE WARNING AREA AND ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING.

RAINFALL...TOMAS IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE ADDITIONAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS OF 2 TO 3 INCHES ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE WINDWARD AND SOUTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS THROUGH SUNDAY. ISOLATED MAXIMUM STORM TOTAL AMOUNTS OF 8 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE IN ASSOCIATION WITH TOMAS.

STORM SURGE...LARGE AND POTENTIALLY DESTRUCTIVE WAVES ARE STILL POSSIBLE...BUT WATER LEVELS WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WILL CONTINUE TO DIMINISH OVERNIGHT.


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...200 AM AST.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...500 AM AST.

$$
FORECASTER BERG/FRANKLIN


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1018. Michfan
Someone needs to tell these models that hurricanes don't make sharp turns quite that quickly.
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1017. DDR
Quoting pottery:

'fraid so.
And not so little either!
Looks like we MAY get some rain before dawn, if that area south and east of us can ever get here.
This place is dry.
MOST unusual for end of October....

Hi pottery
according to radar its coming!
guess you cant access the radar as yet,showers in all directions.Link
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The 12th Hurricane for the Season is leaving a trail of destruction in its path

St. Lucia Taking a Beating from Tomas


Link


Hurricane Tomas is bearing down on St. Lucia, leaving a path of destruction; including torn off roofs, downed power lines, landslides, trees and debris blocking off some roads.

While....
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1015. pottery
Hi Chick!
All is well with you I hope.

What a weird season this is being!
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1014. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Orcasystems:


It basically on track with almost ever model. I cannot find a single model, that even remotely supports any movement past the eastern tip of Cuba

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
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1013. pottery
Quoting Orcasystems:


I think its going to be a nasty little so and so before its done.

'fraid so.
And not so little either!
Looks like we MAY get some rain before dawn, if that area south and east of us can ever get here.
This place is dry.
MOST unusual for end of October....
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Quoting pottery:

Burp!
Hic!
etc.
Very good Party, in the sunshine with gentle breezes.

I see that B'dos has had a knock, and St'Lucia is under Heavy Manners.
And that Haiti and DomRep are possible strike-zones.
This Stormas is going to prove to be a Nasty fellow, I fear....

Hi Potts. Keep hearin that.
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

Looks like a comma.


Yes it does or a question mark
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St Lucia still feeling effects of Tomas

Link

The slow movement of Tomas means that St Lucia could be experiencing heavy rain and gusts of winds for the next several hours. There have been reports all day of flooding in lowlying areas, landslides and roofs flying off buildings and houses. There have been unconfirmed reports of looting and some people are reporting hearings shots fired in Castries. Police have advised all St Lucians to remain in their homes unless it is unsafe. There have also been reports that the island’s Jounen Kweyol activities have been put on hold.
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Quoting pottery:

Burp!
Hic!
etc.
Very good Party, in the sunshine with gentle breezes.

I see that B'dos has had a knock, and St'Lucia is under Heavy Manners.
And that Haiti and DomRep are possible strike-zones.
This Stormas is going to prove to be a Nasty fellow, I fear....


I think its going to be a nasty little so and so before its done.
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Quoting alfabob:
Center is starting to pull in convection from the large band structure. Probably the same thing that happened last night.



Looks like a comma.
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1007. pottery
Quoting Orcasystems:


At his age, it would be good for him... sunny sky's and a bit of prune juice... without rum.

BAH!!!
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:
Track change indicating slower movement and some due west also.


It basically on track with almost ever model. I cannot find a single model, that even remotely supports any movement past the eastern tip of Cuba

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Quoting SLU:


Thank you very much. I too now live in Trinidad and i'm trying my best to find info on St. Lucia but it is hard to come by.

I noticed Trinidad could get some rains tonight too ...


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.
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1003. pottery
Quoting Orcasystems:


Evening elder statesman.. how was the Party.. dry I hope.

Burp!
Hic!
etc.
Very good Party, in the sunshine with gentle breezes.

I see that B'dos has had a knock, and St'Lucia is under Heavy Manners.
And that Haiti and DomRep are possible strike-zones.
This Stormas is going to prove to be a Nasty fellow, I fear....
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:
THE TRACK GUIDANCE IS IN GENERALLY GOOD AGREEMENT ON
THIS SOLUTION...BUT THERE IS MUCH GREATER SPREAD AFTER 48 HOURS.
THE GFS...ECMWF...UKMET...AND GFDL SUPPORT A STRONGER MID-LEVEL
RIDGE OVER THE GREATER ANTILLES AND MOVE TOMAS ON A WESTWARD OR
JUST SOUTH OF WESTWARD MOTION ON DAYS 2-4. THE NOGAPS AND GFDN
SHOW TOMAS MOVING WELL NORTH OF HISPANIOLA BY DAY 5...AND THE HWRF
SHOWS THE CYCLONE STALLING OVER THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. THE
LATTER THREE MODELS APPEAR TO BE OUTLIERS. THE NEW OFFICIAL
FORECAST IS JUST A LITTLE SOUTH OF THE PREVIOUS FORECAST TO COME
INTO BETTER AGREEMENT WITH THE CONSENSUS OF THE MORE SOUTHERN BATCH
OF MODELS.


I think that is what i have been saying....except to some idiots on here.....LOL
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THE TRACK GUIDANCE IS IN GENERALLY GOOD AGREEMENT ON
THIS SOLUTION...BUT THERE IS MUCH GREATER SPREAD AFTER 48 HOURS.
THE GFS...ECMWF...UKMET...AND GFDL SUPPORT A STRONGER MID-LEVEL
RIDGE OVER THE GREATER ANTILLES AND MOVE TOMAS ON A WESTWARD OR
JUST SOUTH OF WESTWARD MOTION ON DAYS 2-4. THE NOGAPS AND GFDN
SHOW TOMAS MOVING WELL NORTH OF HISPANIOLA BY DAY 5...AND THE HWRF
SHOWS THE CYCLONE STALLING OVER THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. THE
LATTER THREE MODELS APPEAR TO BE OUTLIERS. THE NEW OFFICIAL
FORECAST IS JUST A LITTLE SOUTH OF THE PREVIOUS FORECAST TO COME
INTO BETTER AGREEMENT WITH THE CONSENSUS OF THE MORE SOUTHERN BATCH
OF MODELS.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


....what fun would a dry party be???


At his age, it would be good for him... sunny sky's and a bit of prune juice... without rum.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Pretty sure atleast Karl will be retired and I heard that Newfoundland requested the retirement of Igor for the damage it did there right before it went extra-tropical.


One of the most amazing facts of this season will likely be that, between Earl and Igor, more damage was done to Canada than to the CONUS.

Bizarre weather, folks. Think about it.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


he was referring to me... not calling it a fish.


Hi Orca. KOTG, was just makin' a funny ref. It's all good, blog.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Evening elder statesman.. how was the Party.. dry I hope.


....what fun would a dry party be???
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Quoting Cat5hit:
Uh ohh. Track got shifted South...


YeP and West it will come much futher as well IMO. Its not gonna feel that trough nearly as much if it does stay south.
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Track change indicating slower movement and some due west also.
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993. SLU
Quoting Triniweatherboy:
SLU, Im feelin it for st lucia as well, i lived in corinth, denry goodland n beaseajour for about 4 yrs while i was on vaction bcuz my father used to work dere. But some good rain iz approachin trinidad, but hope st. lucia and the rest of the islands could recover from tomas as soon as possible


Thank you very much. I too now live in Trinidad and i'm trying my best to find info on St. Lucia but it is hard to come by.

I noticed Trinidad could get some rains tonight too ...
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 5356

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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.