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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1343. SLU
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Pray everyone is ok. Most likely due to downed lines or cell phone towers.


Yes that seems to be the case.
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 5069
Quoting BahaHurican:
I'm not sure what u mean re model concensus. NHC keeps talking about a model split - 3-4 models suggesting Tomas misses the trough and stays south, another 3-4 suggesting a Nerly turn or meandering drift. My guess is they don't think the trough will be as deep as some models are forecasting, hence the Serly component 2 their forecast. BUT they also keep saying "low confidence at days 4-5" so I guess they are not completely sold on any of the scenarios...
I also checked Crown Weather and CaribWx and they both say basically the same thing. One model also suggesting sw movement for a period of time. Tomas seems to even be perplexing the experts.
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1341. WxLogic
Good Morning...

...HISTORIC DRY OCTOBER ACROSS EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA WITH NO
MEASURABLE RAIN IN MELBOURNE AND ORLANDO...

...BETTER CHANCE OF RAIN LATER THIS WEEK ALONG WITH POSSIBLE
STORMS AROUND THURSDAY...

Link...

Sure hope that if a baroclinic low does develop in the GOM that it takes its time and allow a great deal of isentropic lifting to generate a very generous amount of rain across the area.
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Quoting SLU:
I tried to make contact with St. Lucia early this morning through calling cell phone and land line numbers but to no avail.

Last spoke to my brother about 2:30am with no difficulty but the torrential rains which started about 5pm had not stopped at that point in time. TS force winds were still being experienced too.

However, I cannot get connected with anyone this morning ...
Pray everyone is ok. Most likely due to downed lines or cell phone towers.
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Quoting yonzabam:
I see the NHC cone has shifted slightly southwards and is now touching the Colombian coast.

Seems odd, given the current WNW movement and the strong model consensus on a sharp northwards turn when Tomas reaches the central Caribbean.

I'm not sure what u mean re model concensus. NHC keeps talking about a model split - 3-4 models suggesting Tomas misses the trough and stays south, another 3-4 suggesting a Nerly turn or meandering drift. My guess is they don't think the trough will be as deep as some models are forecasting, hence the Serly component 2 their forecast. BUT they also keep saying "low confidence at days 4-5" so I guess they are not completely sold on any of the scenarios...
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The trend on the forecast models for Category 2 Hurricane Tomas is quite disturbing for the USA, who said Tomas can't make it here?


Maybe not Florida, but there's a slim chance that the BAMS is showing Tomas emerging with a nor'easter = BAD STUFF! Hopefully this scenario does not happen.


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brrrrrrrrrr keep it! keep it !!!
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1336. IKE
Old-man winter for Crestview,FL. next weekend...


Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 71. North wind around 10 mph.

Thursday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 43.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 67.

Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 35.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 64.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Silly, silly, silly. The pre-Tomas blob had been slowly swirling westward for a week and a half; had the mysterious "powers that be" the urge and--far more importantly--the technology and expertise to tinker with a storm, they would have had a far easier time doing it while it was a blob instead of waiting for it to spin up into a real storm.

I believe Tomas will make it to at least Cat 4 status.
i agree
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1334. Keys99
PR Still needs to watch this real close. All about the timing. I Think it will move through the Mona Passage

Key west Weather

"FOR THE FORECAST...WILL GRADUALLY RAMP UP POPS FROM 30 PERCENT TUE
NIGHT THROUGH WED NIGHT...TO 40 PERCENT THU AND THU NIGHT...AS DEEP
LAYERED MOISTURE AND LIFT INCREASE ACROSS THE KEYS AHEAD OF THE
STRONG MID LEVEL TROUGH AND SURFACE FRONT. THERE IS STILL A GOOD DEAL
OF UNCERTAINTY WITH THE TIMING OF THE FRONTAL PASSAGE THROUGH THE
KEYS...BUT FOR THE FORECAST WILL IMPLY A THURSDAY NIGHT OR FRIDAY
MORNING FROPA WITH BREEZY CONDITIONS DEVELOPING ON FRIDAY. ALL
CURRENT GUIDANCE IS IN AGREEMENT THAT SATURDAY SHOULD FEATURE
DRY...BREEZY AND COOLER CONDITIONS AS THE KEYS WILL LIE WITHIN STRONG
NORTHERLY FLOW BEHIND THE FRONTAL BOUNDARY.

TEMPS WILL REMAIN ABOVE NORMAL THROUGH THURSDAY...THEN SHOULD START
TO COOL OFF A BIT ON FRIDAY...AND DROP AT LEAST A FEW DEGREES BELOW
NORMAL ON SATURDAY."
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Quoting flibinite:
I think the "powers who be" are actively beating at Tomas now, as its appearance surprised them and caught them napping, probably with their "forces" in port, somewhere. Considering that, I doubt if it will ever make a strong Cat 3 status, or will only hit that just before landfall.

Considering where it is and what Tomas could possibly do, I hope I'm right, and that there really are such powers who be who are working Tomas over right now.

Silly, silly, silly. The pre-Tomas blob had been slowly swirling westward for a week and a half; had the mysterious "powers that be" the urge and--far more importantly--the technology and expertise to tinker with a storm, they would have had a far easier time doing it while it was a blob instead of waiting for it to spin up into a real storm.

I believe Tomas will make it to at least Cat 4 status.
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1332. SLU
I tried to make contact with St. Lucia early this morning through calling cell phone and land line numbers but to no avail.

Last spoke to my brother about 2:30am with no difficulty but the torrential rains which started about 5pm had not stopped at that point in time. TS force winds were still being experienced too.

However, I cannot get connected with anyone this morning ...
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 5069
Quoting ManicouRiverResort:
On the island of Dominica and a battering throughout the night. Trees down, but no roof damage.

I will take my chainsaw on a walk in an hour when the winds have died a little.

Birds are singing.
be safe watch for down power lines!!!!!
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On the island of Dominica and a battering throughout the night. Trees down, but no roof damage.

I will take my chainsaw on a walk in an hour when the winds have died a little.

Birds are singing.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


No politics please.
You realize that the other comments about Chavez were equally political and, well, less informed, right?

LOL Looks like we need a world politics ban, not just a US politics ban...

Hmmm.... looks like Tomas is getting pretty lopsided for a storm making a run at cat 3...

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first visible image
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14w 63.2 mark
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Good Morning all. Here is early morning light over the western edge of Tomas...

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Quoting flibinite:
I think the "powers who be" are actively beating at Tomas now, as its appearance surprised them and caught them napping, probably with their "forces" in port, somewhere. Considering that, I doubt if it will ever make a strong Cat 3 status, or will only hit that just before landfall.

Considering where it is and what Tomas could possibly do, I hope I'm right, and that there really are such powers who be who are working Tomas over right now.

Storm seeding just makes things worse.
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
i sure miss stormw.
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I think the "powers who be" are actively beating at Tomas now, as its appearance surprised them and caught them napping, probably with their "forces" in port, somewhere. Considering that, I doubt if it will ever make a strong Cat 3 status, or will only hit that just before landfall.

Considering where it is and what Tomas could possibly do, I hope I'm right, and that there really are such powers who be who are working Tomas over right now.
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u can see it in the sw imagery.
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1321. emcf30
Good explaination and timeline of the troughs predicted to move thru Florida and into the western caribbean. This would be the turning factor for TOMAS. But, it is noted that there is disagreement between some of the models on how deep the second trough will be (GFS/ECMWF) . This will determine how much of a turn to the NW-N-NE tere will be. We shall see.
http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=MFL&product=AFD&format=CI&version=1&gloss ary=1
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1320. WXHam
Quoting Bordonaro:
Here is an article I put together on Tomas, if you'd like, please take a look, thanks Link


Good Reality reading.Thanks for posting!
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ok i see whats happening , core is tightening up should see an eye appear later this am.
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it has gotten pretty beaten up on the last couple hours viewing the rainbow floater.

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/flash-rb.html
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strange no eye and a cat 2 ???? whats up with that?
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unfortunately i do believe jamaica is gonna get hit. i hope i am wrong this season has been strange though wierd tracks wierd formation areas mmmmmm...... things to come i guess
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yeah i know it gets complicated, oh well nothing beats a failure than a trial!
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1314. IKE
Drought relief mid-week along the northern GOM.....

72 hour GFS....




Then winter makes an appearance next weekend...strong cold-air all the way to the northern gulf coast...

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The problem being that H.Tomas hasn't been agreeing with the NHC forecast track.

1307 13N59W "I am in Barbados and have recorded 10.00 inches of rain since Friday night. The tree damage on the west coast of the island is impressive.Thankfully we did not have higher winds as it would have been worse"

Any pictures or reports online from Barbados, newspapers or otherwise?
Same with St.Vincent and St.Lucia. Find the lack of news from St.Vincent disturbing.
While St.Lucia was on the strong side of the storm, and St.Vincent on the weak, the farthest point on St.Vincent was closer to the center than the nearest point on St.Lucia.
Can't see how St.Vincent would have fared better than St.Lucia; seems like the windfield would have been worse with H.Tomas's center making such close passage north of St.Vincent.
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1312. IKE
Quoting kmanhurricaneman:
what yah think IKE?


I leave it up to the experts. Maybe you're correct in your forecast.
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mmmmmmmmm..... seems every body gone back to bed ,guess i'll do the same ,check back later.
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what yah think IKE?
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i dont think haiti and puerto rico have any thing to worry about now , the ridge to the north is building above haiti and pr, looking at wv loop it seems that the trough is retrogading back to the west and will soon collide with the front located onthe western tip of cuba and strenching across just south of bahamas, models cant adjust to this so they make the easiest solution which is following what is left of trough. this of course is just my summary so please dont use as guidance. i honestly agree withnhc track up to Wed 2.00 am and i think he will continue on that track with agradual turn to the north at about 75-78 degrees thhats NW-N=NNE.
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1308. IKE
SYNOPSIS FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO
430 AM CDT SUN OCT 31 2010

.SYNOPSIS...STRONG COLD FRONT WILL MOVE OFF THE TEXAS COAST TUE
AND EXTEND FROM CENTRAL LOUISIANA COAST TO TAMPICO MEXICO LATE
TUE AND FROM SE LOUISIANA TO E BAY OF CAMPECHE WED AND FROM
FLORIDA BIG BEND TO 19N91W THU. STRONG TO NEAR GALE WINDS ARE
EXPECTED W OF THE FRONT.
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1307. 13N59W
I am in Barbados and have recorded 10.00 inches of rain since Friday night. The tree damage on the west coast of the island is impressive.Thankfully we did not have higher winds as it would have been worse
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Straightline projection still pointing toward Hispanola
HurricaneTomas's heading turned westward to (0.2degrees west of) WestNorthWest
from its previous heading of (10.7degrees west of) NorthWest
H.Tomas's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions increased to ~12mph(~19.3km/h) from its previous travel speed of ~8mph(~12.9km/h)
TS.Tomas
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
31Oct 06amGMT - 13.8n62.4w - 100mph(~160.9km/h) - 982mb - NHC.Adv.#8A
31Oct 09amGMT - 14.0n62.9w - 100mph(~160.9km/h) - 983mb - NHC.Adv.#9

Copy&paste 12.9n59.5w, 13.1n60.1w, 13.3n60.7w, 13.4n61.0w, 13.5n61.4w-13.5n61.7w, 13.5n61.7w-13.6n62.1w, 13.6n62.1w-13.8n62.4w, 13.8n62.4w-14.0n62.9w, sdq, 14.0n62.9w-18.04n73.86w into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the headings and the distances traveled over the last 12^hours.

Using straightline projection upon the speed&heading averaged
over the 3hours spanning the last two reported positions:
~2days&16hours from now to NanGarde,Haiti

^ The westernmost line-segment is the straightline projection.
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Quoting IKE:
Haiti in the cross-hairs?



Unfortunately yes.
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I see the NHC cone has shifted slightly southwards and is now touching the Colombian coast.

Seems odd, given the current WNW movement and the strong model consensus on a sharp northwards turn when Tomas reaches the central Caribbean.

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3hours late, but interesting...
HurricaneTomas's heading turned northward to (10.7degrees west of) NorthWest
from its previous heading of (8.1degrees west of) WestNorthWest
H.Tomas's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions decreased to ~8mph(~12.9km/h) from its previous travel speed of ~9.3mph(~15km/h)
TS.Tomas
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
31Oct 06amGMT - 13.8n62.4w - 100mph(~160.9km/h) - 982mb - NHC.Adv.#8A

Copy&paste 12.4n58.8w, 12.9n59.5w, 13.1n60.1w, 13.3n60.7w, 13.4n61.0w-13.5n61.4w, 13.5n61.4w-13.5n61.7w, 13.5n61.7w-13.6n62.1w, 13.6n62.1w-13.8n62.4w, aua, vqs, 13.8n62.4w-18.4n69.63w into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the headings and the distances traveled over the last 12^hours.

Using straightline projection upon the speed&heading averaged
over the 3hours spanning the last two reported positions:
~2days&21hours from now to LasAmericasInternationalAirport,DominicanRepublic

^ The westernmost line-segment is the straightline projection.
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1302. IKE
Haiti in the cross-hairs?

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5:00 AM AST Sun Oct 31
Location: 14.0°N 62.9°W
Max sustained: 100 mph
Moving: WNW at 8 mph
Min pressure: 983 mb
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Quoting Bordonaro:

It is 3:18 AM CDT in TX where I am at. Many people are sleeping :O)!!!
Ohhh Ok!!! LOL
Member Since: July 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 286
Quoting TORMENTOSO83:
why is everybody so quite? is there another page blog?

It is 3:18 AM CDT in TX where I am at. Many people are sleeping :O)!!!
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why is everybody so quite? is there another page blog?
Member Since: July 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 286
Here is an article I put together on Tomas, if you'd like, please take a look, thanks Link
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Quoting Beta:
So after Tomas is done are we going to see Tropical Storm Virginie and Tropical Storm Walter next?

Likely, yes.
I think there will be 3 more named storms by the end of the year, thus ending with Alpha and breaking the record for second most active Atlantic hurricane season.
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1295. Beta
So after Tomas is done are we going to see Tropical Storm Virginie and Tropical Storm Walter next?
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Quoting islandblow:
"Has a weather station gone down in Melville Hall, Dominica? Not seeing the data for it."

It may well have done. I live a few miles away on the norh coast of Dominica and we have been getting some powerful combined and prolonged gusts approx 2.00am to 3.30am here and earlier, so the masts and system could be down. The sea has been powerful here too although on the north coast and heaven knows whats happening on the west coast exposed to Tomas.


Wow, good to know! I like it here when folks post live reports on what they are experiencing with these storms. That's one of my favorite things about watching this blog.
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"Has a weather station gone down in Melville Hall, Dominica? Not seeing the data for it."

It may well have done. I live a few miles away on the norh coast of Dominica and we have been getting some powerful combined and prolonged gusts approx 2.00am to 3.30am here and earlier, so the masts and system could be down. The sea has been powerful here too although on the north coast and heaven knows whats happening on the west coast exposed to Tomas.
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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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