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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1693. scott39
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
St. Lucia is more than ready to handle a situation like this, I doubt they will request help, they are a independent nation, im sure they will pride themselves on taking care of its own citizens. No reason for us to try and force aid, its demeaning to other countries.
We dont force aid, and if the request it, we will be there.
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Recon finding surface winds of 59 knots (~ 67.8 mph) at 14.450N 64.433W.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
St. Lucia is more than ready to handle a situation like this, I doubt they will request help, they are a independent nation, im sure they will pride themselves on taking care of its own citizens. No reason for us to try and force aid, its demeaning to other countries.
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1690. scott39
Tomas will weaken from 60mph to 80mph over the next 48 hours. Then expect rapid developement after this time to a Cat 3 possibly to a low end Cat 4. Dont let the current look fool you!
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Quoting SLU:
I just posted some pictures of St. Lucia on Stormcarib.com. Go check it out.

Link
Great job, my prayers are for the speedy recovery of your island nation!!!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1688. barbamz
Quoting SLU:
I just posted some pictures of St. Lucia on Stormcarib.com. Go check it out.

Link


This really looks severe. What a mess!
Nevertheless thanks for posting and all the best for your family.
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1687. SLU
I just posted some pictures of St. Lucia on Stormcarib.com. Go check it out.

Link
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 5364
Quoting Tazmanian:
i think it may be better if if FL did had it they sure dont need this down there


thats a terrible thing to say but i have to agree with you
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2229
In just his short life already, Tomas has gathered an ACE of 3.6325, enough to bring him up to the median #10 spot for the season, just ahead of #11 Lisa and behind #9 Richard. Even in his currently slightly weakened state, he should leapfrog ahead of both Richard and Otto by 11 this evening, and then Karl, Paula, and Alex by late tomorrow or early Tuesday. That would jumphim into fifth place for the season, behind only Igor, Earl, Danielle, and Julia. Depending, of course, on both how long he hangs around and how strong he is, Tomas' ACE should move ahead of Julia's later in the week, and moving into third place ahead of Danielle isn't out of the realm of possibility. In November. Whodathunkit?
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i think it may be better if if FL did had it they sure dont need this down there
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5 pm my bad
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2229
Quoting weatherwatcher12:

It should continue west for awhile due to the ridge.

Link
Dat ridge nuh duun yet!
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I"m so glad Tomas isn't coming to Florida!
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Quoting weatherlover94:
i think Tomas will be weaker at 2 pm mabie 75-80 some were in there

I think they will wait till recon starts sending data, which should be soon.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
i think Tomas will be weaker at 2 pm mabie 75-80 some were in there
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2229
Recon is on the way out.
Link
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
Looks like a nice front coming through my neck of the woods next weekend!

Local Text Forecast for
Lake Worth, FL (33461)

Oct 31 Today
Partly to mostly cloudy with scattered showers. Thunder possible. High 83F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

Oct 31 Tonight
Some clouds. Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 73F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph.

Nov 1 Tomorrow
Partly cloudy. High around 85F. Winds E at 10 to 20 mph.

Nov 1 Tomorrow night
Partly cloudy skies early followed by mostly cloudy skies and a few showers later at night. Low 73F. Winds E at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

Nov 2 Tuesday
Partly cloudy with a stray thunderstorm. Highs in the mid 80s and lows in the mid 70s.

Nov 3 Wednesday
Slight chance of a thunderstorm. Highs in the mid 80s and lows in the low 70s.

Nov 4 Thursday
Scattered thunderstorms. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the upper 60s.

Nov 5 Friday
Partly cloudy. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the low 60s.

Nov 6 Saturday
Plenty of sun. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the low 60s.

Nov 7 Sunday
Some sun with a few showers possible. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 60s.
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you all in the Antillies and st lucia are in my prayers
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2229
Quoting Mixed:
Its A Mess Here In St Lucia, State Of Emergency Declared This Morning, No Power, No Phones Or Cell Phones, Not Much Water, Many Bridges Down, Saw Too Many Electrical Poles Down......... What A Disaster,

You are all in my prayers..I have put together an article here Link about what happened in the Windward Islands today..

I hope the US and other nations jump to action immediately to help!!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
like i said i will take the hurricane so Hati dont have to lets send it to the carolinas lol
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2229
Quoting Pillillo:
Why aren't there any storms with U, X, Y or Z?

You forgot about Q...
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1671. Mixed
Its A Mess Here In St Lucia, State Of Emergency Declared This Morning, No Power, No Phones Or Cell Phones, Not Much Water, Many Bridges Down, Saw Too Many Electrical Poles Down......... What A Disaster,
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Quoting Pillillo:
Why aren't there any storms with U, X, Y or Z?

Hard to find names I guess. Q isn't included also, probably for the same reason.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
Why aren't there any storms with U, X, Y or Z?
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Tomas is barely moving... Link
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Quoting Xandtar:
The rain and wind have let up in Dominica, but power is still out almost everywhere, it went out for me about 16 hours ago.


Are you OK?? Have you heard any reports from any of the other islands??
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Has the trough begun to make a southern movement? On the wv loop the souther part is heading SE, but the central and north part is heading east.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
1665. Xandtar
The rain and wind have let up in Dominica, but power is still out almost everywhere, it went out for me about 16 hours ago.

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Quoting scott39:
I read there is a weakness over Mexico, which may have some influence on Tomas going farther W.

It should continue west for awhile due to the ridge.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 12:16 PM EDT Sunday 31 October 2010
Temperature: 35.2%uFFFDF
Dewpoint: 31.5%uFFFDF
Humidity: 68 %
Wind: NNE 13 gust 19 mph

Condition: Light Snow Pellets
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 5 km
Air Quality Health Index: 2


LOL. Scary, eh?

Day 5 east coast trough phasing is much scarier - the degree of phasing, from the Caribbean to northwest Quebec - is likely to produce high impact weather from Tomas to Toronto..even though model details still vary significantly, the overall pattern looks like a lock and should have HPC especially worried.
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1662. sarepa
Looks like the shear is working pretty well at Tomas.
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1661. scott39
I read there is a weakness over Mexico, which may have some influence on Tomas going farther W.
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Tim Horton is a little overrated for coffie and doughnuts.
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1659. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 12:16 PM EDT Sunday 31 October 2010
Temperature: 35.2F
Dewpoint: 31.5F
Humidity: 68 %
Wind: NNE 13 gust 19 mph

Condition: Light Snow Pellets
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 5 km
Air Quality Health Index: 2
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55458
1658. scott39
If 20knt shear hits Tomas to the South for 48 hours, hopefully he will be a puppy before he can develope more!
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Quoting Orcasystems:


The BAMD takes it there
The BAMM stops just short (time limited run)
The GFNI takes it into the Bay of Fundy


That's pretty interesting. I'm not sure how much of a storm would be left by the time it got that far north. The weather in the N.E. is far from tropical this time of year.
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Quoting Sfloridacat5:
Anyone see the BAMM model showing Tomas crossing eastern Cuba and continuing northward making a landfall in the North East (New York) region.


The BAMD takes it there
The BAMM stops just short (time limited run)
The GFNI takes it into the Bay of Fundy
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
1655. scott39
Quoting Orcasystems:
Ok, as far as I can tell (2 references).. this is the "Hurricane Graveyard".



Since Tomas is in it.. it would be nice if he took a hint and died.

Good Job. Wind shear is trying to drive stakes into his vampire heart.
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1654. 47n91w
Quoting Neapolitan:

Obviously Tomas can end up anywhere inside the 5-day cone--or even somewhat outside it. Having said that, however, I'll state this other obvious fact: almost any right-angle hit from a major hurricane on the south-facing coast of Hispaniola would be devastating. Wind damage would be bad enough, but the greatest destruction would likely come from surge and rain-caused flooding.

The water just offshore southern Hispaniola is very deep, and the shelf is very thin. This has the effect of making a smaller surge than would occur in an area with a shallow shelf, though with larger, more battering waves due to the dynamics of wave energy. Some coastal towns on the south side of the island, such as Jacmel, sit on relatively flat ground directly facing the ocean with no protection whatsoever; in such places, surge damage would be tremendous.

Now, the rain. One saving grace for Port au Prince would be that there is a mountain range running east west on the Tiburon Peninsula that serves to separate the capital from the Caribbean. Some peaks in this range reach well over a mile into the sky; obviously, these peaks would diminish the storm's intensity for areas north of the range. The bad news is that this diminishing would happen at the expense of the coastal towns and villages to the south; orographic uplift would force the storm to unleash super torrents of rain, which would rush unimpeded down the mostly denuded hills, resulting in horrendous flooding.

As I said before, I am seriously hoping the current cone is wrong, as it represents for the moment a nearly worst-case scenario. I don't deal much in apocalyptic predictions, but this would be bad. Very, very bad...


I agree with you 100% Neo, not everyone realizes how vulnerable Hispaniola is to landslides and floods, especially Haiti.

"In 1923, over 60% of Haiti's land was forested; by 2006, less than 2% was." (link)

Also: Haiti Earthquake, Deforestation Heighten Landslide Risk from National Geographic
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Anyone see the BAMM model showing Tomas crossing eastern Cuba and continuing northward making a landfall in the North East (New York) region.

Actually its the BAMM and BAMD models. They show Tomas near the N.E. U.S. near the end of the runs.
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Complete Update



AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Ok, as far as I can tell (2 references).. this is the "Hurricane Graveyard".



Since Tomas is in it.. it would be nice if he took a hint and died.

Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
1650. xcool
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Can someone tell me what the GFDL model has latched onto that would permit Tomas to run scoot in between Cuba and Haiti? Cause the way the run looks its, initialized with a Category 3 somewhere in between Cuba and Haiti, with the center moving through that little strait in between the two.
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Quoting Melagoo:

Tim Hortons!


yes :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
If we are to see rapid intesification of this system, what then happens to the track?
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1646. Patrap


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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1645. Melagoo
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
she even got timbits as well to go with my three coffees

Tim Hortons!
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anyone think this will run into florida?
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1643. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Orcasystems:


GASP.. you have your wife trained to fetch Timmies.. I am jealous and impressed.
she even got timbits as well to go with my three coffees
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55458

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.