Tomas significantly weaker; damage very heavy on St. Lucia and neighboring islands

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:38 PM GMT on October 31, 2010

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Hurricane Tomas dealt a punishing blow to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, with the neighboring islands of St. Vincent, Dominica, and Barbados also suffering heavy damage. St. Lucia received the full brunt of the northern eyewall of Tomas as it intensified into a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds early this morning. The St. Lucia weather service reported that sustained winds of 90 - 95 mph affected the island. A state of emergency has been declared on the island, and there are island-wide power outages on both St. Lucia and Dominica. Heavy flooding affected St. Lucia, washing out many bridges, and the airport is closed due to flooding. Damage to structures is considerable, with many roofs gone, and damage reported to hospitals, schools, and businesses.


Figure 1. Torrential rains from Tomas triggered massive flooding on St. Lucia that destroyed several bridges and severely damaged roads. Image credit: Caribbean Hurricane Network.

Tomas significantly weakens
An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft arrived at Tomas at 2pm this afternoon, and found a much weaker storm. The 2pm EDT center fix found that the pressure has risen to 994 mb, and the strongest surface winds were barely Category 1 hurricane strength, 74 mph. The aircraft found the the eyewall had mostly collapsed. Satellite loops of Tomas also show a significant degradation in the appearance of the storm in recent hours. The storm is highly asymmetric with very little heavy thunderstorm activity or upper level outflow on the west side, and the hurricane has only one prominent spiral band, on the east side. Wind shear is a high 20 knots due to strong upper level west-southwest winds, and these winds are driving dry air at mid-levels of the atmosphere into Tomas' west side, as seen on water vapor satellite imagery.


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Storm Tomas taken at 10:30am EDT Saturday October 30, as the storm began lashing the Lesser Antilles. At the time, Tomas was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Track forecast for Tomas
The ridge of high pressure pushing Tomas to the west-northwest will weaken by Tuesday, as a trough of low pressure approaches the eastern U.S. and breaks down the ridge. This will result in Tomas slowing from its current 9 mph forward speed to 5 mph by Tuesday. By Thursday, the trough to Tomas' north should be able to pull the storm to the north. The exact timing and location of this turn is still very uncertain. The computer model solutions from the latest set of 8am EDT (12Z) runs include a strike on Haiti on Friday (GFS and GFDL models), a strike on the Dominican Republic on Friday (NOGAPS model), a strike on Haiti on Saturday (UKMET model), a strike on Jamaica and eastern Cuba on Thursday (Canadian), or a strike on Puerto Rico on Friday (HWRF).

Intensity forecast for Tomas
Wind shear is forecast to remain in the high range, 20 - 25 knots, through Monday night, then decline to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, for the remainder of the week. Tomas will struggle with the shear and the dry air to its west through Tuesday, and I expect it will weaken to a tropical storm tonight, and remain a tropical storm until Tuesday, when the shear finally relents. At that point, re-intensification is likely, though with the storm's inner core gone, I expect it will take Tomas two days before it can re-establish a complete eyewall. Hindering that process will be the slow motion of the storm, which will allow cooler waters from the depths upwell to the surface and cool the SSTs. Still, the waters are very warm in the Caribbean and these waters extend to great depth, so the upwelling cool water may not impede intensification as much as might ordinarily be expected. The intensity Tomas might have as landfall in Hispaniola or Jamaica is highly uncertain, and a strength anywhere between a tropical storm and Category 3 hurricane would not be surprising. The HWRF model predicts Tomas will be a borderline tropical storm/Category 1 hurricane on Friday, while the GFDL foresees Tomas will be a strengthening Category 3 hurricane as it bears down on Haiti Friday afternoon. I predict Tomas will have trouble reorganizing, and will be a strengthening Category 1 hurricane on Friday as it makes landfall in Haiti or the Dominican Republic.


Figure 3. Hurricane specialists Robbie Berg (background) and Dan Brown (foreground) discuss the latest data on Tomas Friday night at the National Hurricane Center.

Next update
I'll have an update Monday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Three discussions in a row?


i re move mine
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whats send this storm too MX
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Three discussions in a row?
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BOOOoooo,

Holloween Tomas got me in the 5 day spooky cone.
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
Yep and even the NHC admits that the track is of low confidence...
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ouch! guys even a strong end or low end cat 3 will not be good for them even a 90kt hurricane can do a lot

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Very interesting discussion that reflects what we're saying here....

Also looking at the current WV and still very curious about that alleged trough....
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am re moveing mine
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000
WTNT41 KNHC 312031
TCDAT1
HURRICANE TOMAS DISCUSSION NUMBER 11
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL212010
500 PM AST SUN OCT 31 2010

DATA FROM AN AIR FORCE RESERVE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT
TOMAS HAS WEAKENED A LITTLE MORE. THE AIRCRAFT REPORTED A MAXIMUM
850 MB FLIGHT-LEVEL WIND OF 74 KT...AN SFMR SURFACE WIND OF 64
KT...AND A MINIMUM PRESSURE OF 994 MB. THESE DATA SUPPORT
MAINTAINING TOMAS AS A HURRICANE WITH AN INITIAL WIND SPEED OF 65
KT.

THE INITIAL MOTION IS SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT AND A LITTLE FASTER THAN
BEFORE...280/10. TOMAS IS FORECAST TO CONTINUE MOVING WESTWARD FOR
THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS IT REMAINS SOUTH OF A MID-LEVEL RIDGE.
BEYOND THAT TIME...THE CYCLONE IS EXPECTED TO SLOW DOWN AND
GRADUALLY TURN TOWARD THE NORTH AS THE STEERING CURRENTS WEAKEN DUE
TO A LARGE MID- TO UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH MOVING ACROSS THE GULF OF
MEXICO. ALTHOUGH THE TRACK MODEL GUIDANCE IS IN FAIR AGREEMENT IN
THE EVOLUTION OF THE LARGE-SCALE PATTERN...THERE ARE CONSIDERABLE
DIFFERENCES AS TO WHERE AND WHEN THE NORTHWARD TURN OCCURS. THE
OFFICIAL FORECAST IS SIMILAR TO THE PREVIOUS ONE FOR THE NEXT 3 TO
4 DAYS...AND THEN LIES A LITTLE TO THE RIGHT OF THE LAST TRACK TO
COME INTO BETTER AGREEMENT WITH THE LATEST GUIDANCE. THIS TRACK
FORECAST IS CLOSE TO A CONSENSUS OF THE GFS...GFDL...ECMWF...AND
UKMET MODELS. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT CONFIDENCE IN THE LONG-TERM
FORECAST POINTS ARE OF LOWER CONFIDENCE THAN NORMAL.

SOME ADDITIONAL WEAKENING SEEMS LIKELY DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS
SOUTHWESTERLY SHEAR OF 20-25 KT AND SOME MID-LEVEL DRY AIR CONTINUE
TO IMPACT THE CYCLONE. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST FOLLOWS THE TREND IN
THE GUIDANCE AND IS ONCE AGAIN ADJUSTED DOWNWARD...BRINGING TOMAS
BELOW HURRICANE STRENGTH WITHIN THE NEXT 12 HOURS. BEYOND A COUPLE
OF DAYS...THE SHEAR IS EXPECTED TO LESSEN WHILE TOMAS REMAINS OVER
FAVORABLE OCEANIC CONDITIONS. ALL OF THE INTENSITY MODELS RESPOND
AND SHOW THE SYSTEM INTENSIFYING IN THE 3 TO 5 DAY RANGE...AND THE
OFFICIAL FORECAST FOLLOWS SUIT AND IS AT THE HIGH END OF THE
GUIDANCE THROUGHOUT THE FORECAST PERIOD.


FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 31/2100Z 14.4N 64.9W 65 KT
12HR VT 01/0600Z 14.7N 66.4W 60 KT
24HR VT 01/1800Z 15.0N 68.3W 55 KT
36HR VT 02/0600Z 15.0N 69.9W 55 KT
48HR VT 02/1800Z 15.0N 71.3W 60 KT
72HR VT 03/1800Z 15.3N 72.5W 65 KT
96HR VT 04/1800Z 16.0N 73.0W 80 KT
120HR VT 05/1800Z 18.5N 72.5W 90 KT...INLAND

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI/BROWN
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Not expected to become a MH anymore..

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5pm is out... No more Major Hurricane predicted.
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I suspect Tomas will be held at hurricane intensity at 5pm 75-80mph., if not no lower than a 70mph TS, JMO
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8134
Quoting uncljbnd:
I don't think Tomas is going to make it past 70 west.
A lot depends on the timing of the front.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


idk...Its possible Tomas could die out all together, although thats a distinct possibility.

It has unfavorable conditions to deal with 'til Tuesday.


think about this it could go under a RI right up tell land fall when it gets in too lower wind shear
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I don't think Tomas is going to make it past 70 west.
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i see what could be the V or W storm on the 12z of the gfs






any one seeing what am seeing?
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Quoting stormpetrol:
This weakening has only caused the storm to grow larger IMO and the weakening is just temporary I think.


idk...Its possible Tomas could die out all together, although thats a distinct possibility.

It has unfavorable conditions to deal with 'til Tuesday.
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Quoting uncljbnd:
CA...Central Atlantic?


Central America
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Central America
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CA...Central Atlantic?
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This weakening has only caused the storm to grow larger IMO and the weakening is just temporary I think.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8134
Reading the discussions [last 3] have made me believe NHC was expecting some kind of moderation, though perhaps not as dramatic, today. Also they kept referring to the three models that showed the Serly movement, and in fact kept their official track to the south of the ensemble guidance. So I don't think the weakening in and of itself was unanticipated.

I haven't looked at WV recently but should be interesting to see what current conditions are looking like. Whatever eventuates, I don't think Tomas will be languishing all the way to 75W - maybe up to 65W at the most. I think it was Keeper who was suggesting new convective cycle starting tonight, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that happen, with a concurrent reorganization of the storm.
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models still look crazy
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Time: 20:02:30Z
Coordinates: 14.5N 64.7667W
Acft. Static Air Press: 842.5 mb (~ 24.88 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,486 meters (~ 4,875 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 998.8 mb (~ 29.49 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 90° at 48 knots (From the E at ~ 55.2 mph)
Air Temp: 18.0°C* (~ 64.4°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 50 knots (~ 57.5 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 62 knots (~ 71.3 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 2 mm/hr (~ 0.08 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data

Still strong winds just N of center!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8134
Quoting stillwaiting:
a weaker tommy's =CA bound imo


There is probably a <1% of that happening.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Yep, the NHC didnt officially forecast the weakening. But, they felt their intensity forecast was uncertain (this from the 11 PM EDT advisory last night):

THERE CONTINUES TO BE LOW CONFIDENCE IN THE INTENSITY FORECAST.
NONE OF THE INTENSITY MODELS SHOW MUCH STRENGTHENING BEYOND ABOUT
90 KT. THE 200-MB FLOW OVER THE CARIBBEAN SEA SHOULD BE FAVORABLE
FOR STRENGTHENING...ESPECIALLY IF TOMAS MAINTAINS A MORE
SOUTHERN COURSE. HOWEVER...CROSS-SECTION ANALYSES OF THE GUIDANCE
DOES INDICATE THAT THE CYCLONE VORTEX COULD BECOME A LITTLE TILTED
OVER THE NEXT 48 HOURS OR SO...POSSIBLY DUE TO SHEAR BELOW THE
OUTFLOW LAYER. BECAUSE OF THESE MIXED SIGNALS...THE OFFICIAL
INTENSITY FORECAST ONLY SHOWS MODEST STRENGTHENING THROUGH 24 HOURS
AND ESSENTIALLY HOLDS THE INTENSITY FAIRLY STEADY THEREAFTER.
THE SHIPS MODEL SHOWS THE SHEAR INCREASING...AND ALL OF THE
INTENSITY GUIDANCE WEAKENS TOMAS. ADDITIONALLY...THE GFS AND ECMWF
SHOW THE MID-LEVEL VORTEX ASSOCIATED WITH TOMAS WEAKENING DURING
THIS PERIOD. GIVEN THIS...THE OFFICIAL FORECAST WILL SHOW A SLIGHT
DIP IN THE INTENSITY AT 48 AND 72 HOURS


But they did expect weakening at the 5 am discussion.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8436
i see what could be the V or W storm on the 12z of the gfs

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Afternoon everyone. Weather here this weekend has been great, unlike most of the Lesser Antilles...

1729. afj3 2:25 PM EDT on October 31, 2010

Hey!
I am in Coral Gables, Florida, just south of Miami. Where are you???


Hey, missed u earlier.... haven't been in the Gables for ages.... though lots of my countrymen like to shop down that way.... I'm in Nassau, Bahamas.
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a weaker tommy's =CA bound imo
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


They aren't going to shift that far west, and in fact, most of them will probably only shift just a little bit.

If a model is calling for a Category 3 hurricane, its not going to shift much.

If a model is calling for a TS/C1, it should move considerably west, probably near Jamaica.

I'd expect a shift next time they come in, or later tonight.


I agree - except now the models should be initializing a much weaker system (if it indeed is much weaker). I would guess that the new model runs wouldn't reveal this until tomorrow though as the ones coming out tonight were started when Tomas was much stronger.
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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
The trough on the east coast of the USA later this week should keep Tomas away no matter what happens though. I don't think Tomas will ever get west of eastern Cuba.


Yep, I too see no way this'll make it to the CONUS. Strong trough after strong trough as the jet stream tends to sag southward as we head toward winter months. These troughs usually protect the CONUS from storm by (a) shearing the heck out of them, or (b) turning them NE and away from the CONUS.
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Tomas is still a potential dangerous storm, I wouldn't take this weakening for granted, if it can hang on another 24 hours this still has a shot at becoming a Cat 3.


This is true. We can't let our guard down in the central Caribbean yet. If this goes toward Hispaniola (Haiti and DR), it doesn't need to even be a cat. 3 to cause damage. The jagged terrain tends to enhance low-level lift and rainfall, mudslides can be a problem even if this was a tropical storm.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Yep, the NHC didnt officially forecast the weakening. But, they felt their intensity forecast was uncertain (this from the 11 PM EDT advisory last night):

THERE CONTINUES TO BE LOW CONFIDENCE IN THE INTENSITY FORECAST.
NONE OF THE INTENSITY MODELS SHOW MUCH STRENGTHENING BEYOND ABOUT
90 KT. THE 200-MB FLOW OVER THE CARIBBEAN SEA SHOULD BE FAVORABLE
FOR STRENGTHENING...ESPECIALLY IF TOMAS MAINTAINS A MORE
SOUTHERN COURSE. HOWEVER...CROSS-SECTION ANALYSES OF THE GUIDANCE
DOES INDICATE THAT THE CYCLONE VORTEX COULD BECOME A LITTLE TILTED
OVER THE NEXT 48 HOURS OR SO...POSSIBLY DUE TO SHEAR BELOW THE
OUTFLOW LAYER. BECAUSE OF THESE MIXED SIGNALS...THE OFFICIAL
INTENSITY FORECAST ONLY SHOWS MODEST STRENGTHENING THROUGH 24 HOURS
AND ESSENTIALLY HOLDS THE INTENSITY FAIRLY STEADY THEREAFTER.
They probably had in the back of their mind "the graveyard effect which took place today, once it passes 75 west, it will reintensify, and move north or north east...pick by the trough coming from the U.S.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


They aren't going to shift that far west, and in fact, most of them will probably only shift just a little bit.

If a model is calling for a Category 3 hurricane, its not going to shift much.

If a model is calling for a TS/C1, it should move considerably west, probably near Jamaica.

I'd expect a shift next time they come in, or later tonight.


Well put
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HurricaneTomas's heading turned northward to (3.6degrees west of) WestNorthWest
from its previous heading of dueWest
H.Tomas's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions increased to ~14.3mph(~23.1km/h) from its previous travel speed of ~9mph(~14.5km/h)
H.Tomas
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
Category2
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
31Oct 12pmGMT - 14.0n63.3w - 100mph_(~160.9km/h) - 983mb - NHC.Adv.#9A
Cat.1
31Oct 03pmGMT - 14.0n63.7w - - 90mph_(~144.9km/h) - 986mb - NHC.Adv.#10
31Oct 06pmGMT - 14.2n64.3w - - 70knots.(~129.6km/h) - 992mb - ATCF

Copy&paste 13.4n61.0w, 13.5n61.4w, 13.5n61.7w, 13.6n62.1w, 13.8n62.4w-14.0n62.9w, 14.0n62.9w-14.0n63.3w, 14.0n63.3w-14.0n63.7w, 14.0n63.7w-14.2n64.3w, kin, 14.2n64.3w-17.9n76.6w 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&10hours from now to PoorMansCorner,Jamaica

^ The westernmost line-segment is the straightline projection.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Tomas is still a potential dangerous storm, I wouldn't take this weakening for granted, if it can hang on another 24 hours this still has a shot at becoming a Cat 3.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 8134
Quoting Dakster:
TropicalAnal - Then we should expect a model shift if TOmas has in fact weakened?


They aren't going to shift that far west, and in fact, most of them will probably only shift just a little bit.

If a model is calling for a Category 3 hurricane, its not going to shift much.

If a model is calling for a TS/C1, it should move considerably west, probably near Jamaica.

I'd expect a shift next time they come in, or later tonight.
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Quoting barbadosjulie:
Power & water is still off for a lot of homes in Barbados. There are no reports of fatalities. Schools are closed tomorrow due to damages. Flood warning has been lifted at of 12pm. We are still cleaning up.


Wow, thanks for the update out there!
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Power & water is still off for a lot of homes in Barbados. There are no reports of fatalities. Schools are closed tomorrow due to damages. Flood warning has been lifted at of 12pm. We are still cleaning up.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Yep, the NHC didnt officially forecast the weakening. But, they felt their intensity forecast was uncertain (this from the 11 PM EDT advisory last night):

THERE CONTINUES TO BE LOW CONFIDENCE IN THE INTENSITY FORECAST.
NONE OF THE INTENSITY MODELS SHOW MUCH STRENGTHENING BEYOND ABOUT
90 KT. THE 200-MB FLOW OVER THE CARIBBEAN SEA SHOULD BE FAVORABLE
FOR STRENGTHENING...ESPECIALLY IF TOMAS MAINTAINS A MORE
SOUTHERN COURSE. HOWEVER...CROSS-SECTION ANALYSES OF THE GUIDANCE
DOES INDICATE THAT THE CYCLONE VORTEX COULD BECOME A LITTLE TILTED
OVER THE NEXT 48 HOURS OR SO...POSSIBLY DUE TO SHEAR BELOW THE
OUTFLOW LAYER. BECAUSE OF THESE MIXED SIGNALS...THE OFFICIAL
INTENSITY FORECAST ONLY SHOWS MODEST STRENGTHENING THROUGH 24 HOURS
AND ESSENTIALLY HOLDS THE INTENSITY FAIRLY STEADY THEREAFTER.


i see .. thanks
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Quoting CaribBoy:
In their intensity forecast, the NHC didnt expect this weakening.


Yep, the NHC didnt officially forecast the weakening. But, they felt their intensity forecast was uncertain (this from the 11 PM EDT advisory last night):

THERE CONTINUES TO BE LOW CONFIDENCE IN THE INTENSITY FORECAST.
NONE OF THE INTENSITY MODELS SHOW MUCH STRENGTHENING BEYOND ABOUT
90 KT. THE 200-MB FLOW OVER THE CARIBBEAN SEA SHOULD BE FAVORABLE
FOR STRENGTHENING...ESPECIALLY IF TOMAS MAINTAINS A MORE
SOUTHERN COURSE. HOWEVER...CROSS-SECTION ANALYSES OF THE GUIDANCE
DOES INDICATE THAT THE CYCLONE VORTEX COULD BECOME A LITTLE TILTED
OVER THE NEXT 48 HOURS OR SO...POSSIBLY DUE TO SHEAR BELOW THE
OUTFLOW LAYER. BECAUSE OF THESE MIXED SIGNALS...THE OFFICIAL
INTENSITY FORECAST ONLY SHOWS MODEST STRENGTHENING THROUGH 24 HOURS
AND ESSENTIALLY HOLDS THE INTENSITY FAIRLY STEADY THEREAFTER.
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Quoting SuperTyphoonLionrock:


It'll be a remnant low by tomorrow morning at this rate.


lool
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Quoting SunnyDaysFla:

If there is no problem postponing it, might get better weather and calmer seas a week later.


Strong front will be moving across the state of Florida next weekend. Should see a lot of wave action (high seas) over the western GOM down into the keys and into the off shore waters of the Atlantic.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Nope..


did they expect tomas to weaken ? actually i'm not sure about that
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Quoting CaribBoy:
In their intensity forecast, the NHC didnt expect this weakening.


Nope..
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Thanks NC!
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TropicalAnal - Then we should expect a model shift if TOmas has in fact weakened?
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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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