Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:50 PM GMT on November 07, 2010
Tropical Storm Tomas is merging with a cold front over the open Atlantic Ocean and has only a few more hours of life as a tropical cyclone. Despite bringing heavy rains of 4 - 8 inches to highly vulnerable Haiti on Friday, flooding from the storm is only being blamed for eight deaths in the country. Haiti has thankfully avoided a flooding catastrophe, and it certainly could have gone far worse for Haiti. Much weaker storms than Tomas have claimed thousands of lives, and Tomas could easily have done so had it taken a slightly different track. Still, Tomas' passage caused plenty of flooding damage in Haiti. The heavy rains and floods from the storm will also worsen the country's cholera epidemic, which has already claimed over 500 lives. Cholera is a spread via contaminated water, and Tomas' rains will cause a great deal of water contamination. Portlight.org has their mobile kitchen on the scene and is assessing needs. As reported by Rudy Victor in the Portlight.org blog, "Reports coming from the countryside are not good. Thank God its not what we're afraid of, but lots of damage. Leogane a city west of Port-au-Prince is inundated, cities along the extreme southwestern peninsula have suffered great damage by the seas; lots of small fishermen's houses are gone. Dame Marie, Anse d'Hainault, Les Irois, Chambellan, and lots more have been severely damaged by storm surge and raging waves. Gonaives is flooded since last night; luckily there are not reports yet of casualties there. Most people fled to higher ground before the storm. A lot of roads in the south west are destroyed, lots of harvest in the south are lost, and it's another terrible blow for this country, but it appears that there was not a lot of death due to the storm."
Figure 1. Morning afternoon satellite image of Tomas shows that the storm has lost almost all of its heavy thunderstorms, and is now embedded in a cold front that extends northwards to Nova Scotia, Canada. Moisture streaming northwards from Tomas along this front has brought heavy rains in excess of six inches to Nova Scotia over the past few two days.
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