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 KerryInNOLA:
I live in Bushwood Country Club Estates.
ok Bushwood Country Club Estates i put that in the ultra zonic atomspheric wave generator lets see what happens have ya ever seen a foot of snow before
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657. JRRP
well now i think is 13.7n 75.4w
Link
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
with a nice deep comma head droppin into northern west gom drifting east waitin on the rtn flow


NNE winds now at Cancun. Will soon switch to NW as the front pushes through on the way to the SE to collect Tomas.

Cancun, Cancun, QUINTANA ROO (PWS)
Updated: 12 min 1 sec ago
80.5 °F
Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 81%
Dew Point: 74 °F
Wind: 7.0 mph from the NNE

Wind Gust: 10.0 mph
Pressure: 29.93 in (Rising)
Heat Index: 85 °F
Visibility: 7.0 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Clouds: Scattered Clouds 1500 ft


Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
Quoting Dakster:
kman - Where do you put 1.5 million people living in tents?


I wish I knew. No answer for that really. All they can do is prepare for a ton of rain and hope the winds aren't too bad. Any kind of wind over 35 mph will pose a serious challenge for them.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
Complete Update

This is the first time Tomas has followed the track... starting the turn


AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TSPIN BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
612. stormpetrol618. stormpetrol

Check that out , Basically 600-700 miles or maybe a bit more between those updates and basically the same lattitude, when the initial one is calling for over 200 miles north by now, that's all I'm trying to get across!
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Quoting Dakster:
kman - Where do you put 1.5 million people living in tents?


Tampa :)
j/k
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting kmanislander:


Cold front.

with a nice deep comma head droppin into northern west gom drifting east waitin on the rtn flow
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The big diff between Sat's cone and today's is how far SOUTH it is.... ironically, it doesn't seem it will make much difference for Haiti... I wouldn't be surprised to see this give JA a West to East swipe, or even a pass along the NW coast there, and then STILL hit Haiti...:o(.

And because it's not terribly strong right now, and not forecast to hit FL, not much is being said about the potential devastation, or even the damage / fatalities in the Antilles... it seems.
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kman - Where do you put 1.5 million people living in tents?
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Saddle up them Horses Boy! We're head'en West.
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Summary of past few ADT positions:
2010NOV02 231500 4.0 990.1/ +3.1 / 65.0 4.0 4.3 4.4 1.2T/12hr OFF OFF -79.06 -76.51 UNIFRM N/A -0.00 14.13 75.54 SPRL
2010NOV02 234500 4.0 990.2/ +3.2 / 65.0 4.0 3.6 3.6 NO LIMIT OFF OFF -48.66 -62.79 UNIFRM N/A -0.00 13.59 74.93 FCST
2010NOV03 001500 4.0 990.2/ +3.2 / 65.0 3.9 3.6 3.6 NO LIMIT ON OFF -45.86 -60.86 UNIFRM N/A -0.00 13.61 74.99 FCST
2010NOV03 004500 4.0 990.2/ +3.2 / 65.0 3.9 3.5 3.5 NO LIMIT ON OFF -38.06 -58.56 UNIFRM N/A -0.00 13.63 75.05 FCST
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
Quoting kimoskee:


Cone moving left or right?
To the left, to the left, everything to the gulf to the left...

(couldn't resist)
My grand-daughter is going back to Mandeville tomorrow morning. Thought she would be safer there as the house she is staying at in Kingston is not the greatest but where she stays in Mandeville the house has a concrete roof so should be much safer. Her mother and I convinced her to stay and do her courses.
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Quoting Dakster:


I see you are off your meds again.. :-)



:-D
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UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.1
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 03 NOV 2010 Time : 004500 UTC
Lat : 13:37:32 N Lon : 75:02:50 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.0 / 990.2mb/ 65.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.9 3.5 3.5

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +3.2mb

Center Temp : -38.1C Cloud Region Temp : -58.6C

Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : ATLANTIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : ATLANTIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

****************************************************
Member Since: May 16, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 1231
Quoting scott39:
I dont think any of us on here question if Tomas is going to turn or not. The question for me is... Does the NE quadrant of Tomas impact Haiti LESS than what the current NHC track shows now? I hope and pray so. Iknow they will still get it bad, I just hope it isnt the worst case scenerio.


Only time will tell. They have had a week's warning in Haiti to do whatever they can to lessen the potential impact.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
Quoting scott39:
I dont think any of us on here question if Tomas is going to turn or not. The question for me is... Does the NE quadrant of Tomas impact Haiti LESS than what the current NHC track shows now? I hope and pray so. Iknow they will still get it bad, I just hope it isnt the worst case scenerio.


I would say this is about as bad as it can get.. if that CAT 3 number is right.



Wrong side wrong spot wrong everything
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Election Update!
Republicans will gain control of The House in a major repudiation of the Obama agenda!

Tomas still disorganized. Will be a big rainmaker for the Islands.

what city do you live
in new orleans
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Quoting kimoskee:


Cone moving left or right?
To the left, to the left, everything to the gulf to the left...

(couldn't resist)


I see you are off your meds again.. :-)

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Every update the NHC adjust their forecast points accordingly, whether it be 3 or 6 hours!
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I dont think any of us on here question if Tomas is going to turn or not. The question for me is... Does the NE quadrant of Tomas impact Haiti LESS than what the current NHC track shows now? I hope and pray so. Iknow they will still get it bad, I just hope it isnt the worst case scenerio.
Quoting stillwaiting:
....thats because theirs a surface low forming in the nw gom


Cold front.

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i don't expect it to pass 77 w and it will not really be a turn but a semi stationary wobble


Its actually on track now and starting the long turn as per the the track guidance.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting scott39:
Look how far ahead it is in time though?


Not really. The next point is near 75.7 W and close to 14 N at 0600 UTC. Right now the center is pretty much on 75 W and the time is close to 5 hours behind that.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
Quoting kmanislander:


Look at the wind shift at this buoy in the Bay of Campeche. NW.

The front is that far South already

....thats because theirs a surface low forming in the nw gom
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
was trying with some co workers to get a co workers family out of Haiti wow lots of money not too much in way of results..
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Quoting IceCoast:

Yes, complete update from NHC at 11Pm EST.


Cone moving left or right?
To the left, to the left, everything to the gulf to the left...

(couldn't resist)
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Quoting kmanislander:


Actually, two days ago Pottery asked me how far West I thought it would go and my response was 75, possibly 76.

So, still some room for more West IMO.
i don't expect it to pass 77 w and it will not really be a turn but a semi stationary wobble
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I think this WV image has a lot to say about what happens with Tomas.... perhaps even 1000 words worth....

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As I see it, no matter what happens it looks like Jamaica and Haiti/DR will get potentially devastating effects from Tomas, especially that latter 2
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Quoting 7544:
new cone at 11pm ?

Yes, complete update from NHC at 11Pm EST.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Tomas on the points
Look how far ahead it is in time though?
Quoting kmanislander:


Actually, two days ago Pottery asked me how far West I thought it would go and my response was 75, possibly 76.

So, still some room for more West IMO.

you're 100% right it could go all the way to 82W at that lattitude, move ENE and still clear us!!
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Quoting 7544:
is toams back to moving west again all westcasters post for hatis sake
westcasting here for central Cuba then S fla...
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Quoting scott39:
NHC has it at 77W about 30 hours from now. So I would think it will go farther W than that.


I think the NHC track is good. 77 quite possible but the turn is unavoidable IMO
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
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Tomas on the points
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Quoting kmanislander:


Actually, two days ago Pottery asked me how far West I thought it would go and my response was 75, possibly 76.

So, still some room for more West IMO.
NHC has it at 77W about 30 hours from now. So I would think it will go farther W than that.
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617. 7544
tomas just jogged west ?
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Quoting stormpetrol:

I agree, but how far west will it go, it is already much further west than forcasted!


Actually, two days ago Pottery asked me how far West I thought it would go and my response was 75, possibly 76.

So, still some room for more West IMO.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
615. 7544
is toams back to moving west again all westcasters post for hatis sake
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Quoting kmanislander:


I wish I could but unfortunately it will swing to the NE and rake Haiti over pretty bad. Torrential rain, flash floods and whatever wind there is. Devastation on top of disaster.
I know, Thats why im a west/downcaster tonight. I want it to go W and stay a weak dry TD, so nobody else dies from it.
Evening all. I note Tomas is almost due south of New Providence tonight. I wouldn't have expected it would get so far west before making the turn.... Should be interesting to see how much the front is able to pull the circulation given that it's only at 13 N right now...
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Quoting scott39:
Will the trough weaken Tomas more when it picks it up?
No
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
Quoting raggpr:


It may continue its west movement until tomorrow, still is going north northeast after that.

I agree, but how far west will it go, it is already much further west than forcasted!
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Quoting scott39:
Kman, Just agree with me on a farther track W so we can get this thing away from Haiti! LOL


I wish I could but unfortunately it will swing to the NE and rake Haiti over pretty bad. Torrential rain, flash floods and whatever wind there is. Devastation on top of disaster.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
Quoting Mixed:
Guys Whats Up I Can See An Area Of Low Pressure Forming South East Of The Windward Islands. We Cant Take Anymore Down Here In St Lucia. My Hometown Worst Hit In St Lucia, I Have Quite A Bit Of Pics Just Follow The Link To Facebook Album.
Soufriere Disaster


Man thats a disaster if you need solar power let me know i can help with that! www.sunevaenergy.com
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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.