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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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
21L/TD/T
MARK
13.88N/74.89W
Thats no storm...its a angry mass of cotton..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
Question? Would a weaker system not feel the effects of the front and continue west?
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Quoting stormpetrol:

Good Grief, one might very well ask , Which blob is Tomas looking at that loop LOL!
If the system stays this disorganized, it could move further west and the trough may not fully eject it...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
Some white colors starting to appear in the infrared satellite near the new center candidate around 73.5W 14N Link
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Something tells me Tomas does not end up on the NHC's list of greatest achievements...
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Quoting Mixie:
Tomas dissipating - yay!

ah? are you still sleeping?
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:

Good Grief, one might very well ask , Which blob is Tomas looking at that loop LOL!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7682
Quoting sebastianflorida:
Good Morning, looks like the 11 A.M. advisory dissapates Tomas into an open wave. This is great news for Haiti and Jamaica. The wave should move west into Central America and has a low chance of redeveloping prior to landfall.
It is November, and all the conditions were not able to come into play for Tomas. Great news, season done, U.S. mostly unscathed!

If I thought you were serious, I'd debate you on several points: there's no chance of Tomas becoming an "open wave" this morning*; even if it did--which, again, it won't--there's so much precipitable moisture present that there's no "good news" for Jamaica and Haiti; models overwhelmingly show a turn to the north then the northeast; the season isn't done. (I'll give you the last point, though: the CONUS has been mostly untouched--at least so far.)

* - It's slightly possible the NHC will relocate the CoC farther east, but I seriously doubt whether that would be renumbered...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
Should be an intersting next 24 hours to see what Tomas does, I see the center that the NHC is tracking, I have that around 13.5N/76.3W.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7682
FLIGHT TWO -- TEAL 70
A. 03/1800,04/0000Z
B. AFXXX 1121A TOMAS
C. 03/1500Z
D. 14.4N 75.3W
E. 03/1730Z T0 04/0000Z
F. SFC TO 15,000 FT
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Quoting Mixie:
Tomas dissipating - yay!


???????????????????????????
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945. Mixie
Tomas dissipating - yay!
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Tomas= one weird system!
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7682
I think Tomas is going to get its act together today and be a dangerous nasty mess for many people on the islands. My prayers our with you.
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from what I can see Tomas may have multiple COC one seem to be at 13N 74W another seems to be at 14N 77W another seems to be at 14.5N 79.5W and maybe another at 15N 73.5W
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Have to run now. Back later
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Quoting kmanislander:
If you run this loop you can see the low the NHC is tracking to the SW of the area of increasing organization near 14.5 / 73.5 that I referred to as what appears to be a new center forming up.

The original low seems to be dissipating to the SW but that is just my guess based on the satellite imagery. It could also be that the spin near 14.5 and 73.5 is the mid level circulation which is tilted away from the surface feature to the NE.

Hard to say but for sure this is one disorganized mess.
Thanks
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Quoting scott39:
Kman, Can you also see a broad spin on the Visible Sat now, where the NHC has it? It looks like the possible COC relocation doesnt have that much of a spin now. I dont know much and Im still learning. TIA


Hi

See my post 936. The Ramsdis loop shows the situation quite clearly.
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If you run this loop you can see the low the NHC is tracking to the SW of the area of increasing organization near 14.5 / 73.5 that I referred to as what appears to be a new center forming up.

The original low seems to be dissipating to the SW but that is just my guess based on the satellite imagery. It could also be that the spin near 14.5 and 73.5 is the mid level circulation which is tilted away from the surface feature to the NE.

Hard to say but for sure this is one disorganized mess.
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Good Morning, looks like the 11 A.M. advisory dissapates Tomas into an open wave. This is great news for Haiti and Jamaica. The wave should move west into Central America and has a low chance of redeveloping prior to landfall.
It is November, and all the conditions were not able to come into play for Tomas. Great news, season done, U.S. mostly unscathed!
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Quoting stormpetrol:
Wow!! Tomas, never seen so many centers, I think the center is reforming at 14n/73.5W that is where a clear rotation can be seen , JMO.
Agree
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21L/TD/T
MARK
13.88N/74.89W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Wow!! Tomas, never seen so many centers, I think the center is reforming at 14n/73.5W that is where a clear rotation can be seen , JMO.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7682
Quoting kmanislander:


Good for Jamaica and could be good for Haiti but not the DR.

If Tomas were to lift out to the NE from there the heaviest convection would then be to the East of Haiti sparing them a lot of flooding.

Kman, Can you also see a broad spin on the Visible Sat now, where the NHC has it? It looks like the possible COC relocation doesnt have that much of a spin now. I dont know much and Im still learning. TIA
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Quoting roleli:


What are you guys looking on? Post link please..


In IKE's Link you can see a strong rotation with new convection activity firing up at around 14.5N 73.5W The center of the depression Tomas doesn't even have convection over it and its rotation is poor
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"THE HURRICANE HUNTERS FOUND A BROAD AREA OF LIGHT WINDS SURROUNDING THE LOCATION OF THE MINIMUM PRESSURE...SO THERE IS SIGNIFICANT
UNCERTAINTY IN THE CENTER POSITION AND INITIAL MOTION
"

Recon went in, and folks got more confused.
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928. IKE
Quoting roleli:


What are you guys looking on? Post link please..
Link
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Quoting raggpr:

Hello IKE, normally i dont agree with your thoughts but right now I agree 100%. The center which NHC is mentioning seems to be dying. They need HH to clarify this situation.


What are you guys looking on? Post link please..
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926. IKE
Quoting raggpr:

Hello IKE, normally i dont agree with your thoughts but right now I agree 100%. The center which NHC is mentioning seems to be dying. They need HH to clarify this situation.


I agree...recon needs to go in.
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Quoting IKE:


Either I'm an idiot or blind. I don't see anything at those coordinates. Maybe the center is tilted.

Then again....

THE HURRICANE HUNTERS FOUND A BROAD AREA OF LIGHT WINDS SURROUNDING
THE LOCATION OF THE MINIMUM PRESSURE...SO THERE IS SIGNIFICANT
UNCERTAINTY IN THE CENTER POSITION AND INITIAL MOTION.

Hello IKE, normally i dont agree with your thoughts but right now I agree 100%. The center which NHC is mentioning seems to be dying. They need HH to clarify this situation.
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TropicalDepressionTomas's heading turned westward to (10.7degrees west of) estorthest
from it's previous heading of (0.6degrees north of) NorthWest
TD.Tomas's average speed moving between its last 2 reported positions decreased to ~8mph(~12.9km/h) from its previous travel speed of ~9.7mph(~18.8km/h)
TS.Tomas
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
3Nov. 12amGMT - 13.5n75.0w - 40mph_(~64.4km/h) - 1006mb - NHC.Adv.#19A
3Nov. 03amGMT - 13.7n75.1w - 40mph_(~64.4km/h) - 1006mb - NHC.Adv.#20
3Nov. 06amGMT - 13.2n75.2w - 40mph_(~64.4km/h) - 1006mb - NHC.Adv.#20A
TD.Tomas
3Nov. 09amGMT - 13.5n75.5w - 35mph_(~56.3km/h) - 1006mb - NHC.Adv.#21
3Nov. 12pmGMT - 13.7n75.8w - 35mph_(~56.3km/h) - 1006mb - NHC.Adv.#21A

Copy&paste 13.4n72.2w, 13.5n72.6w, 13.4n74.2w, 13.5n74.6w, 13.5n75.0w-13.7n75.1w, 13.7n75.1w-13.2n75.2w, 13.2n75.2w-13.5n75.5w, 13.5n75.5w-13.7n75.8w, peu, adz, pap into the GreatCircleMapper for a look at the headings and the distances traveled over the last 12^hours.
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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

Would this be good or bad for Jamaica and Hispaniola?


Good for Jamaica and could be good for Haiti but not the DR.

If Tomas were to lift out to the NE from there the heaviest convection would then be to the East of Haiti sparing them a lot of flooding.

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Quoting weatherwatcher12:

Would this be good or bad for Jamaica and Hispaniola?


Only West would be good... WNW/NW bad for Jamaica
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Some light rain over the northeast of the island. The rest pretty calm. Still it is very cloudy outside. You can see San Juan radar doppler here Link
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Quoting kmanislander:


Good morning

Looks like a new center near 14.5 N and 73.5 W

Seems to be stationary.
If he could only remain so disorganized and continue w or wnw it would be great.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Good morning

Looks like a new center near 14.5 N and 73.5 W

Seems to be stationary.

Would this be good or bad for Jamaica and Hispaniola?
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Quoting raggpr:

We PR are not getting rain right now.
South or North PR? Got rain earlier?
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Quoting IKE:


Either I'm an idiot or blind. I don't see anything at those coordinates. Maybe the center is tilted.

Then again....

THE HURRICANE HUNTERS FOUND A BROAD AREA OF LIGHT WINDS SURROUNDING
THE LOCATION OF THE MINIMUM PRESSURE...SO THERE IS SIGNIFICANT
UNCERTAINTY IN THE CENTER POSITION AND INITIAL MOTION.


Good morning

Looks like a new center near 14.5 N and 73.5 W

Seems to be stationary.
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GFS model - latest

This does not strengthen Tomas as before...
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From the 5am NHC Discussion... "The HH found a BROAD area of light winds surrounding the location of the minimum pressure...So there is SIGNIFICANT UNCERTAINTY in the center position and initial motion". Tomas is going to have to get its act together before we know where its going to impact the most. IMO
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Quoting roleli:
Latest Coordinates....
LOCATION...13.7N 75.8W -> NHC

What is sure there is a big flare up going on... Southern parts of Hispaniola & PR possible getting some squall-like rain right now.

The blob in the south-east is also flaring up...

Link

We PR are not getting rain right now.
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913. IKE
Quoting weatherwatcher12:
8:00 AM EDT Wed Nov 3
Location: 13.7°N 75.8°W
Max sustained: 35 mph
Moving: WNW at 5 mph
Min pressure: 1006 mb


Either I'm an idiot or blind. I don't see anything at those coordinates. Maybe the center is tilted.

Then again....

THE HURRICANE HUNTERS FOUND A BROAD AREA OF LIGHT WINDS SURROUNDING
THE LOCATION OF THE MINIMUM PRESSURE...SO THERE IS SIGNIFICANT
UNCERTAINTY IN THE CENTER POSITION AND INITIAL MOTION.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Latest Coordinates....
LOCATION...13.7N 75.8W -> NHC

What is sure there is a big flare up going on... Southern parts of Hispaniola & PR possible getting some squall-like rain right now.

The blob in the south-east is also flaring up...

Link
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8:00 AM EDT Wed Nov 3
Location: 13.7°N 75.8°W
Max sustained: 35 mph
Moving: WNW at 5 mph
Min pressure: 1006 mb
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910. IKE
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Tomas continues to confound. Can't believe this is the same system that hit St Lucia so well organized.


I'm not a met, but this looks like, at least a flooding problem for Jamaica and Haiti/DR. Maybe PR...but maybe not for them.
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Quoting IKE:
Just looked at the NHC coordinates...from the 5 am advisory...75.5W?

Go east to about 73.5W....Link
Tomas continues to confound. Can't believe this is the same system that hit St Lucia so well organized.
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Tomas seems to be coming a more Dominican Republic and PR player if the center relocates around 73.4W
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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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