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

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

Share this Blog
4
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 258 - 208

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21Blog Index

Quoting Orcasystems:
The Hunter was in the Graveyard... all it found was a ghost.. so they are going home.





Pray they don't come back to haunt them.
Member Since: August 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 672
The Hunter was in the Graveyard... all it found was a ghost.. so they are going home.



Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Downpours hit Thailand's south after weeks of flooding in north killed 104
By The Associated Press (CP) – 5 hours ago

BANGKOK — Thailand's prime minister on Tuesday described flooding in the country's south that has displaced thousands of people as "one of the worst natural calamities" the country has seen. The country's only aircraft carrier, which rarely leaves its berth east of Bangkok, was deployed to help out.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke after inspecting the battered region from a military aircraft.

A tropical depression that dumped constant rain on the area on Sunday and Monday triggered the flooding, which caused the suspension of some rail services to the south and the temporary closure of the airport on Samui island, a popular tourist getaway in the Gulf of Thailand.

The flooding in the south follows two weeks of heavy floods in October, mostly in the north, that killed 104 people. Nearly 6 million residents of 38 provinces in the north, east, central and northeast regions were affected by October's floods, according to the government's Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

More
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Met Service of Jamaica website

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.

BULLETIN No: 11 / Tropical Storm Tomas

TOMAS WEAKENS SLIGHTLY BUT EXPECTED TO RE-STRENGTHEN…RAINS COULD START EARLIER

Tropical Storm Tomas continues to trace a path towards the west over the south-central Caribbean Sea and is still being expected to Tropical Storm Tomas experienced further slight weakening over the past few hours but is still expected to re-strengthen within the next 24-48 hours over the south-central Caribbean Sea.

At 1:00 p.m. the centre of Tropical Storm Tomas was located near Latitude 13.5 degrees North, Longitude 74.5 degrees West; about 520 km (320 miles) south-southeast of Morant Point, Jamaica or 570 km (370 miles) south-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Tomas is moving towards the west near 22 km/h (14 mph) and maximum sustained winds remain near 65 km/h (40 mph), with higher gusts.

Reconnaissance aircraft has investigated Tropical Storm Tomas and found the maximum sustained winds near the centre to be slightly lower than previously estimated. The forecast, however, is for the system to gradually re-strengthen to hurricane strength on Wednesday and gradually turn towards the northeast by Thursday. It would then pass over the waters east of Jamaica on Friday on its way to Haiti.

Sections of Jamaica could experience hurricane force winds as Tomas stays on the projected path moving close to the eastern end of the country. Bands of heavy showers and thunderstorms could start affecting the island as early as Thursday, and above-normal wave heights should be expected over coastal areas of northern and southeastern parishes during that time.

Over the waters, northeasterly winds are forecast to increase to gale force by Thursday, mainly south of the island. By Friday, these are likely to become near northerly at hurricane strength. All small craft, including fishers from the cays and banks, should now be arriving in port to start preparations for safe harbour. Anyone still operating on the cays and banks should evacuate immediately.

The Meteorological Service continues to monitor the progress of this system, and all interests should pay special attention to further Releases.

The next Bulletin on Tropical Storm Tomas will be issued at 5:00 p.m. today.
Member Since: August 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 672
This is all NRAamy's fault. She didn't get me the fork in time to stick into Tomas...

Seems like the 'graveyard' you have researched may hold true Orca. Since it is getting ready to leave it and strengthen once it does.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurristat:


east, towards Jamaica? what?


It's the Miami Herald... What else would you expect.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting uncljbnd:
What happened was the outflow boundry from the convection from the west came and blocked the inflow on the eastern side..

you can see it here

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/flash-rb.html


and you can see that the COC is almost gone and the circulation has disappeared


http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/loop-ir2.html


The Graveyard got it.


Tomas has less then an hour until he reaches the western edge of the graveyard... tonight will tell us whats gonna happen.

If he starts the strengthen and turn.... Haiti could be hooped.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
This is the latest on Thomas.

Storm information valid as of: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 18:00 Z
Coordinates: 13.4N 74.2W (View Map or View Storm Centered Satellite Image)
Location: 225 miles (362 km) to the NNE (24°) from Cartagena, Colombia
Distance Calculator: How far away is this storm from me?
Pressure (MSLP): 1006 mb (29.71 inHg | 1006 hPa)
Sustained wind speed (1 min. avg.): 35 knots (40 mph | 18 m/s)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What happened was the outflow boundry from the convection from the west came and blocked the inflow on the eastern side..

you can see it here

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/flash-rb.html


and you can see that the COC is almost gone and the circulation has disappeared


http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/flt/t2/loop-ir2.html


The Graveyard got it.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
Quoting reedzone:
Will you all stop downcasting Tomas? It's not a TD, its a 50 mph. Tropical Storm! Get over yourselves, it's forecast to strengthen, looks wayy better then yesterday. It's organizing.


Call me a factcaster. 1003 to 1007 is weakening and it's not 50mph anymore, highest found by recon was 40mph. Temporary, maybe! But, a big fat outflow boundary on visible tells me it's weakening right now.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting reedzone:
Will you all stop downcasting Tomas? It's not a TD, its a 50 mph. Tropical Storm! Get over yourselves, it's forecast to strengthen, looks wayy better then yesterday. It's organizing.

Yeah, sure you're right. The HH couldn't even find the center of the thing because it is so disorganized. Look at the wind barbs for their filght. The thing barely has a circulation. It is going to need some help to get back to TS.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting reedzone:
Will you all stop downcasting Tomas? It's not a TD, its a 50 mph. Tropical Storm! Get over yourselves, it's forecast to strengthen, looks wayy better then yesterday. It's organizing.
Quoting JLPR2:
Down to 40mph

AL, 21, 2010110218, , BEST, 0, 134N, 742W, 35, 1006, TS


teh lolz
they be happenin
Member Since: October 15, 2008 Posts: 11 Comments: 2305
I just looked at the recent satellite pics (18.45 UTC) and I believe t the reason that Tomas is so broad is that he "swallowed" the big clouds that were present earlier in the western Caribbean. This semmes to be a wild card to me and I beleve Tomas will need some extra time now to reorganize himself. On the other hand, the broad area should make it somewhat easier to intensify now... Once the intensification starts, I believe Tomas will be a very powerful and dangerous hurricane...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
240. JLPR2
Down to 40mph

AL, 21, 2010110218, , BEST, 0, 134N, 742W, 35, 1006, TS
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8493
Any word on relief efforts in St. Lucia?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
somehow, I don't think this is what John said....


From the Miami Herald:

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said Tomas had grown stronger and more organized, with sustained winds at 50 mph, and remained on a track toward Haiti's southern coast. The storm was was expected to slow and begin curving north late Wednesday or early Thursday, with Haitians likely to begin feeling its effects in the early morning hours of Friday.

John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in West Miami-Dade, said the powerful center of the storm could shift significantly to the east toward Jamaica or west toward the Dominican Republic before it makes landfall.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/02/1903580/in-cross-hairs-of-a-storm-haiti.html


east, towards Jamaica? what?
Member Since: October 15, 2008 Posts: 11 Comments: 2305
Will you all stop downcasting Tomas? It's not a TD, its a 50 mph. Tropical Storm! Get over yourselves, it's forecast to strengthen, looks wayy better then yesterday. It's organizing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
233. beell
Quoting JLPR2:
So this one is the one supposed to pull Thomas to the NE?


This cut-off low will be getting a little help from the long wave trough out of Canada.

They "phase" together or "sync up" resulting in a full-latitiude trough strong enough to pull Tomas up and out.

12Z GFS 500mb
Valid 12Z Thursday



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
232. JLPR2
Quoting TropicalMan2010:

yes


Ah I see, it seems to be cooking nicely.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8493
GFDL AT 90 HOURS



GFDL AT 126 HOURS

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the center is filling in and collapsing.

any shear from this point forward is going to rip it to shreds.

I think TD at the next update.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
TOMAS should be at 40MPH at 5PM NHC right now it's a TD but HC will wait to see what happens None of the models have had a good handle on Tomas The ECMWF model seems to be the closest.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
224. JLPR2
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Look at my post 201. Up to 1007 on last recon fix. The convection just isn't displaced anymore however, the center is becoming ill defined and broad.


Maybe now it will start a slow organizing trend. The center possibly became broad due to the day it spent exposed.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8493
Product: Air Force Tropical RECCO Message (URNT11 KNHC)
Transmitted: 2nd day of the month at 19:19Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Storm Number: 21
Storm Name: Tomas (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 8
Observation Number: 13

Mandatory Data...

Observation Time: Tuesday, 19:16Z
Radar Capability: Yes
Aircraft Altitude: Below 10,000 meters
Coordinates: 15.0N 72.0W
Location: 246 miles (396 km) to the S (175°) from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Turbulence: Light
Conditions Along Flight Route: In the clear
Pressure Altitude: 7,620 meters
Flight Level Wind: 5 knots (~ 5.8 mph) (Bearing was unavailable.)
- The above is a spot wind.
- Winds were obtained using doppler radar or inertial systems.
Flight Level Temperature: -18°C
Flight Level Dew Point: -18°C
Weather (within 30 nautical miles): Shower(s) (continuous or intermittent precipitation - from cumuliform clouds)
400 mb Surface Altitude: 7,560 geopotential meters

Remarks Section...

Surface Wind Speed (likely by SFMR): 35 knots (~ 40.3mph)
Mission Status: Concluded (Last Report)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting all4hurricanes:
Did Tomas Really weaken he looks so much better


Look at my post 201. Up to 1007 on last recon fix. The convection just isn't displaced anymore however, the center is becoming ill defined and broad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting all4hurricanes:
Did Tomas Really weaken he looks so much better

I guess as they say looks can be deceiving, look at Shary for example, didn't look like much to me yet a it made hurricane status!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
219. JLPR2
So this one is the one supposed to pull Thomas to the NE?
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8493
218. Jax82
Havent seen green on the radar in quite some time!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
you consider this looking better?

http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/loop_640.asp?product=tropical_ge_4km_ir4_floater_1

Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Did Tomas Really weaken he looks so much better
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
There is about 15-20% chance that Tomas will be a cat 3-5 hurricane according to NHC, 11 AM. It would be pretty amazing if Tomas managed to reach category 5; something that seems to never have been happening in November! The main question as I see it is how fast Tomas will regenrate and organize. The atmospheric conditions right now seems very favorable for atleast another 60 hours. There is now a 35-70% chance of rapid intensification of 25-40 kts.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting uncljbnd:
What is a Tropical Depression for $500 Alex


????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What is a Tropical Depression for $500 Alex
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
Quoting stormpetrol:
I suspect they'll call it a 1005mb 45mph TS at 5 , I did see some reading of 1005 mb close to the center fix. I still expect to see Tomas reach cat 2-3 hu status again though. Expect a signficant shift in the cone if this keeps moving west over the next 12 hours.


If it does continue west in the next 12 hours, it may even bring Florida into play, which will make jeff pop out of his nest.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


could tell by your profile picture... ;)


haha I didnt think it was that obvious (;

how's the weather treating you?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
I suspect they'll call it a 1005mb 45mph TS at 5 , I did see some reading of 1005 mb close to the center fix. I still expect to see Tomas reach cat 2-3 hu status again though. Expect a signficant shift in the cone if this keeps moving west over the next 12 hours.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:
Slight model shift to the west, bringing Jamaica more into play.

HH looks like it got bored and is heading home.

Complete Update


AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TSPIN BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI


News Haiti needed, looks like they won't get a direct impact.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 258 - 208

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21Blog Index

Top of Page

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.