Tomas gradually strengthening; 14 dead in St. Lucia from the storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:58 PM GMT on November 02, 2010

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The islands of St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines continue to assess damage and clean up after Hurricane Tomas pounded the Lesser Antilles as a strengthening Category 1 hurricane with 90 - 95 mph winds on Saturday. St. Lucia was hardest hit, with fourteen people dead, many more missing, and damage estimated at $100 million--about 10% of the nation's GDP. Damage on neighboring St. Vincent was estimated at $62 million, which is 4% of that nation's GDP. The storm damaged 1,200 houses, and the northern half of the island, where most of the crops are, was badly hit, with no banana trees left standing and the plantain crop wiped out. Banana production employs 60% of the workforce on St. Vincent, and accounts for more than 50% of their exports. Also hard-hit was Barbados, where damage estimates are at $55 million, 1.5% of the nation's GDP. Tomas may be the most damaging storm to affect the island since Hurricane Janet of 1955. The havoc wreaked by Tomas in the Lesser Antilles makes is likely that the name Tomas will be retired from the list of active hurricane names in the Atlantic.


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

Tomas gradually strengthening
Satellite loops of Tomas show a considerably more organized storm than yesterday, with a modest but increasing amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. However, low-level spiral bands are limited, and upper-level outflow is weak, and Tomas is not in danger of building an eyewall today. Curacao radar shows that the echoes from Tomas are disorganized, with no spiral banding apparent. Wind shear has declined to a moderate 10 -15 knots and the atmosphere in the Caribbean has moistened over the past day, allowing Tomas to re-organize. A hurricane hunter aircraft is on its way to Tomas this morning, and will have a better estimate of the storm's strength by early this afternoon.


Figure 2. Curacao radar at 10:07am EDT on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, showed a large area of rain associated with Tomas over the central Caribbean, but these echoes were poorly organized.

Track forecast for Tomas
The ridge of high pressure pushing Tomas to the west has weakened, allowing Tomas to slow down slightly to a forward speed of 10 mph this morning. This speed will decrease further to 5 mph tonight, as a trough of low pressure approaches the eastern U.S. and breaks down the ridge. By Wednesday, the trough to Tomas' north should be able to pull the storm to the northwest. Tomas' outer spiral bands will bring heavy rains to southwestern Haiti and eastern Jamaica beginning on Thursday night. The computer models have come into better agreement that Tomas will turn more to the north-northeast by Friday, with Haiti or Jamaica the most likely landfall locations. NHC is giving Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a 50% chance of receiving tropical storm force winds, and a 6% chance of hurricane force winds. These odds are 45% and 7%, respectively for Kingston, Jamaica, and 23% and 3% for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Tomas may stall
The models are increasingly suggesting the once Tomas begins moving to the north-northeast, the trough pulling the storm that direction will lift out, stranding Tomas in a region of weak steering currents. Tomas may then wander and dump heavy rains for several days, Saturday through Monday. Given recent model trends, I believe this is likely, but the exact location where Tomas might be stranded is uncertain. The NOGAPS model gives a nightmare scenario for Haiti, with Tomas remaining stationary just off the coast from Port-Au-Prince as a hurricane for many days. The UKMET stalls Tomas over the Turk and Caicos Islands, while the GFS, GFDL, and ECMWF models predict Tomas will stall several hundred miles north of Hispaniola and drift eastwards. It's reasonable to go with the model consensus and predict Tomas will pass over western Haiti and stall far enough north of the nation so that heavy rains will not linger over Hispaniola for many days. The uncertainties in the track forecast are greater than usual, though.

Intensity forecast for Tomas
Wind shear as diagnosed by the SHIPS model has dropped to the moderate range, 10 - 15 knots, and is predicted to stay low to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, for the remainder of the week. The relaxation of shear should allow Tomas to continue to re-organize over the next few days. Aiding this process will be an increasingly moist atmosphere. Dry air has decreased significantly over the past 24 hours, as seen on water vapor satellite imagery, and the models predict a very moist atmosphere will surround Tomas for the remainder of the week. With SSTs at a record warm 29.5°C and a very high ocean heat content, there is a substantial danger that Tomas will undergo a period of rapid intensification once it rebuilds its inner core and establishes an eyewall. This is not likely to happen today, but could occur as early as Wednesday night. This may give Tomas sufficient time to intensify into a major hurricane before landfall in Haiti or Jamaica, as predicted by the GFDL model. The most reasonable intensity forecast at this point is to call for a landfall on Friday at Category 2 strength, but Tomas could easily be anywhere from Category 1 to Category 3 hurricane strength on Friday. NHC is giving Tomas a 19% chance of reaching Category 3+ strength; I believe these odds are higher, 40%. With the atmosphere expected to be very moist, it is likely that Tomas will dump very heavy rains of 4 - 8 inches over much of Haiti, even if Tomas strikes as a tropical storm. Rains of this magnitude are capable of causing heavy loss of life due to extreme floods running down Haiti's deforested mountain slopes. Portlight.org is preparing to send their mobile kitchen with enough food to feed 500 people per day, if Tomas continues on its current forecast path.


Figure 3. Plot of all Category 1 and stronger hurricanes to pass within 50 miles of Barbados since reliable record keeping began in 1851. Image credit: NOAA Coastal Services Center.

Barbados hurricane history
Tomas is the strongest hurricane to affect Barbados since Category 3 Hurricane Allen of 1980, which passed just north of the island. Allen did $4 million in damage, compared to Tomas' $55 million. The deadliest hurricane in Barbados history was the Category 5 Great Hurricane of 1780, which killed approximately 4500 people on the island, and leveled every building, including the stone governor's mansion. The Great Hurricane of 1780 was also the Atlantic's deadliest hurricane of all-time, with 22,000 fatalities, mostly in the Lesser Antilles Islands.

Next update
I'll have an update Wednesday morning.

Jeff Masters

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It seems to me that Tomas is building a new center on the east side right now. As he is very large he needs to "scale off" all extra weight he is carrying on right now before he can strengthens...
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TropicalStormTomas's heading turned northward to (8.1degrees west of) WestNorthWest
from it's previous heading of (3.5degrees south of) dueWest
TS.Tomas's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions increased to ~9.3mph(~15km/h) from its previous*travel speed of ~36mph(~57.9km/h)
* Comparing the previous travel speed with the previous maximum windspeed,
probably center reformation or center relocation more than actual travel.
TS.Tomas
1Nov. 09pmGMT - 13.4n69.7w - 45mph_(~72.4km/h) - 1005mb - NHC.Adv.#15
2Nov. 12amGMT - 13.5n70.4w - 40knots.(~74.1km/h) - 1005mb - ATCF
2Nov. 03amGMT - 13.5n70.8w - 45mph_(~72.4km/h) - 1005mb - NHC.Adv.#16
2Nov. 06amGMT - 13.6n71.3w - 40knots.(~74.1km/h) - 1003mb - ATCF
2Nov. 09amGMT - 13.5n72.0w - 50mph_(~80.5km/h) - 1003mb - NHC.Adv.#17
2Nov. 12pmGMT - 13.4n72.2w - 45knots.(~83.3km/h) - 1003mb - ATCF
2Nov. 03pmGMT - 13.5n72.6w - 50mph_(~80.5km/h) - 1003mb - NHC.Adv.#18
2Nov. 06pmGMT - 13.4n74.2w - 35knots.(~64.8km/h) - 1006mb - ATCF
2Nov. 09pmGMT - 13.5n74.6w - 40mph_(~64.4km/h) - 1006mb - NHC.Adv.#19

Copy&paste 13.4n69.7w, 13.5n70.4w, 13.5n70.8w, 13.6n71.3w, 13.5n72.0w-13.4n72.2w, 13.4n72.2w-13.5n72.6w, 13.5n72.6w-13.4n74.2w, 13.4n74.2w-13.5n74.6w, sdq, 12.5n81.6w, aua into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the headings and the distances traveled over the last 12^hours.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
The NHC is amazing...already strengthening at 75 W.

Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
Quoting scott39:
Please help?


The problem you are having is thinking of a straight line motion only. Firstly, no tropical system ever travels in a straight line.

Tomas is forecasted to travel in a WNW direction between the two forecasted positions which likely explains why it seemingly takes so long to cover one degree. Think of it this way. If Tomas was on a NNW heading from 75 degrees just think how long it would take and how many miles it would travel to the NNW before hitting the 76 degree line. In a straight line to the West approximately 60 miles to be covered. On a NNW heading several times that.

Couple that with the fact that Tomas is expected to slow.

Does this help ?
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Not so good afternoon with this critical situation for Haiti. Well, we knew it was coming.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Please tell me that all aid from Portlight goes straight to the people?

ALL OF IT..If any can donate PLEASE do so.
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Quoting hurristat:


Hey! :P
Hi
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.
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Damn you Tomas.Why don't you just disspate compleatly..
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
the march continues, when you see this, you start to wonder if it will make the U-Turn. Although i was hit by the huge low that the trough is connected to, and it seems pretty strong.
usually we see highs in the upper 70's to lower 80's about now according to what we have been seeing. But today the high was 62! and very gloomy with a strong north wind. Hate Northers!!!


Hey! :P
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Quoting sunlinepr:
For the moment keeps going West

the march continues, when you see this, you start to wonder if it will make the U-Turn. Although i was hit by the huge low that the trough is connected to, and it seems pretty strong.
usually we see highs in the upper 70's to lower 80's about now according to what we have been seeing. But today the high was 62! and very gloomy with a strong north wind. Hate Northers!!!
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Tomas Although weaker is messier which is worse if he stays like this up to landfall in Haiti it would be the same if not worse flooding/mudslide disaster as a strong hurricane
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Portlight is moving their portable feeding kitchen into Haiti in advance of Tomas. I just got off the phone with Paul Timmons, the head of Portlight Strategies.

They are now moving the disabled and elderly to a safe place about 3 miles outside Port au Prince.


Please tell me that all aid from Portlight goes straight to the people?
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Quoting tropicfreak:



I am not, because I can't believe that someone would want a Cat 5 to devestate an area, we saw what happened with Katrina, god forbid what a cat 5 would look like.


He's not wishing a cat 5 upon Florida, he's mocking those that always forecast Florida within the cone at the highest possible intensity for the longest time possible, who do in fact exist on this blog (sammywammybamy, I'm looking at you).
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Quoting largeeyes:
So, no idea on relief efforts underway?

Portlight is moving their portable feeding kitchen into Haiti in advance of Tomas. I just got off the phone with Paul Timmons, the head of Portlight Strategies.

They are now moving the disabled and elderly to a safe place about 3 miles outside Port au Prince.
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So if Jamaica issues a Hurricane Watch, why not Haiti?!?! they need all the prep time they can get right? Its stupid... and then Haiti cries about things, I am sorry if they don't issue one by 11pm ill feel sorry for the people, but i wouldn't give a dime of aid to the government, give it directly to the people.
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Quoting hurristat:


it's sarcasm, relax -- making fun of floridacasters



I am not, because I can't believe that someone would want a Cat 5 to devestate an area, we saw what happened with Katrina, god forbid what a cat 5 would look like.
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Quoting scott39:
Kman, The NHC has Tomas only going 1 degree west in 12 hours at 14mph. That doesnt compute even if he crawls the last 30 miles!
Please help?
Kman, The NHC has Tomas only going 1 degree west in 12 hours at 14mph. That doesnt compute even if he crawls the last 30 miles!
St. Lucian Weather:

Tropical Weather Outlook
A trough system and the Inter-Tropical convergence zone will continue to produce cloudiness, showers and thunderstorms over the Lesser Antilles. Two tropical waves located over the central and eastern Atlantic are moving westward near 15 mph or 23 km/h. An area of low pressure located about 1000 miles or 1609 km east northeast of the Leeward Islands continues to show signs of development and could become a tropical cyclone during the next couple of days.

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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


ahhh gotcha, thats pretty cool, you go there to relax a lot?


Too quiet for me LOL
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Quoting tropicfreak:


Reported.


it's sarcasm, relax -- making fun of floridacasters
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So, no idea on relief efforts underway?
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The Bahamas are also in the cone now.
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Quoting TerraNova:


Northeast quadrant.


Should have thought about that before posting, sorry.
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What is keeping Tomas from Strengthening?
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Quoting tropicfreak:
Path shifted west too, great news for Haiti, but they will still receive direct affects.


Northeast quadrant.
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Quoting shadoclown45:
My Official Forcast for Tomas: Tomas will strike florida as a cat 5 hurricane, and will do loop de loops over florida for 25 days until it dies out.


Reported.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good afternoon everyone

Tomas continues to surprise and confound. On satellite he looks fairly ferocious but the HH confirms that underneath all that gruff exterior lies a 1006 mb borderline TS / TD.

Meanwhile, off to the NW over Texas a huge low is pushing a powerful cold front through the gulf to pick up Tomas.

I don't see him resisting this


Yeah it's dropped like 30 degrees in Houston today. Welcome to Houston winters. 80 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next.
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So PR is out of the cone, but most of Jamaica is in it. Mixed blessing, that. Another one: if Tomas manages to pass through the Windward Passage, Haiti escapes a direct hit from the wind, but the extended water time allows him to maintain strength instead of being ripped to shreds by the mile-high mountains on Haiti's southern peninsula...which could allow even more rain to fall on Hispaniola.

Oh, boy...
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Here is my thought so far. FOr the next day Tomas is predicted to go almost due west. Granted he has been south of the "line points", but still within the cone of error. (Which should be really the 2/3's cone of error)

So seeing a continue westward motion wouldn't be that unexpected. However, the further west (or WSW) tomas goes the more the 3-5 days cone should also shift to the west.

Notice that PR is no longer in the cone...

Just my .02...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10749
Quoting tropicfreak:
Path shifted west too, great news for Haiti, but they will still receive direct affects.


That is actually horrible news for Haiti.
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Quoting lickitysplit:
When I retire its going to be to a place with lots of hurricanes and earthquakes.


Haiti?

Sounds less exciting now, doesn't it... because hurricanes and earthquakes suck.
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Still has some way to go W, before trough coming right now from Mex entering the Gom, picks him up....

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Sarcasm flag up! The NHC will not take the track off Haiti until its in CA.
Quoting tropicfreak:
Path shifted west too, great news for Haiti, but they will still receive direct affects.


actually its worst
now they will be under
the right front quad
normally the worst
side of a hurricane
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55972
Jason you don't need to post the maps twice, we get it.
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When I retire its going to be to a place with lots of hurricanes and earthquakes.
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21L/TS/T/CX
mark
13.43N/74.76W
IR ANIM STILLIMAGE VIS. WV ANIM IMAGE
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55972
Path shifted west too, great news for Haiti, but they will still receive direct affects.
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For the moment keeps going West

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882


Watches issued for Jamacia.
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314. bwi
Quoting uncljbnd:
New center forming at 72 and 13???


Post 159 noted a wind shift and slight pressure drop back at 72w from recon I believe.
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Model keeps Tomas just to the northen coast of PR after going through Haiti/RD

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
If ya' didn't start preparing in Jamaica early this morning, now would be a good time. Just in case Tomas decides to visit...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10749
Looks like some good news. Tomas has weakened 1006mb 35knts and farther W. I know we cant celebrate yet, but he looks like he is defying the forecast so far.
It is Up the Tomas still is a TS 40mph
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000
WTNT31 KNHC 022046
TCPAT1
BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM TOMAS ADVISORY NUMBER 19
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL212010
500 PM EDT TUE NOV 02 2010

...HURRICANE HUNTERS FIND TOMAS WEAKER BUT STILL FORECAST TO
STRENGTHEN...HURRICANE WATCH ISSUED FOR JAMAICA...


SUMMARY OF 500 PM EDT...2100 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...13.5N 74.6W
ABOUT 385 MI...620 KM SSW OF PORT AU PRINCE HAITI
ABOUT 345 MI...555 KM SSE OF KINGSTON JAMAICA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...40 MPH...65 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 270 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1006 MB...29.71 INCHES


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

THE GOVERNMENT OF JAMAICA HAS ISSUED A HURRICANE WATCH FOR JAMAICA.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* JAMAICA

INTERESTS IN HAITI AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SHOULD MONITOR THE
PROGRESS OF TOMAS. TOMAS COULD POSE A SIGNIFICANT THREAT TO THESE
AREAS LATER IN THE WEEK.

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


DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 500 PM EDT...2100 UTC...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM TOMAS WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 13.5 NORTH...LONGITUDE 74.6 WEST. TOMAS IS
MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR 14 MPH...22 KM/HR. A TURN TOWARD THE
WEST-NORTHWEST AND NORTHWEST WITH A DECREASE IN FORWARD SPEED IS
EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS HAVE DECREASED TO NEAR 40 MPH...65
KM/HR...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST AND TOMAS
COULD REGAIN HURRICANE STRENGTH BY THURSDAY.

TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES...165 KM
FROM THE CENTER.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1006 MB...29.71 INCHES.


HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
----------------------
RAINFALL...TOMAS IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS
OF 4 TO 8 INCHES OVER MUCH OF ARUBA...BONAIRE...AND CURACAO.
RAINFALL TOTALS OF 3 TO 5 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE OVER NORTHERN COASTAL
AREAS OF VENEZUELA AND COLOMBIA.


NEXT ADVISORY
-------------
NEXT INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY...800 PM EDT.
NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY...1100 PM EDT.

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI/BROWN
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...HURRICANE HUNTERS FIND TOMAS WEAKER BUT STILL FORECAST TO STRENGTHEN...HURRICANE WATCH ISSUED FOR JAMAICA...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5:00 PM EDT Tue Nov 2
Location: 13.5°N 74.6°W
Max sustained: 40 mph
Moving: W at 14 mph
Min pressure: 1006 mb

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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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