Wilma's formation marks busiest hurricane season ever

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:00 PM GMT on October 17, 2005

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The historic Hurricane Season of 2005 now has the distinction of being the busiest ever. Wilma's formation this morning gives 2005 21 named storms, equaling the mark set in 1933. With over six weeks still left in hurricane season, that mark will likely be surpassed.

After struggling for two days as a tropical depression, Wilma finally put together a sustained, intense burst of deep convection this morning that propelled her to tropical storm strength. This convective burst is only on the south side of the center of circulation, and the storm still has a long way to go before attaining hurricane status. Dry air is intruding on the northwest side, and the upper level outflow is established only on the east side of the storm. Still, the overall satellite signature is rather ominous and impressive, with a large envelope of thickening clouds on the eastern side of the storm. The wind shear is still very low--about five knots, and expected to stay low. The last hurricane hunter mission left the storm at 4:30 pm EDT Sunday, so the exact strength of the storm is not known at this point. There is not another mission scheduled until 2 pm EDT today. The NOAA jet is scheduled to make its first flight Tuesday afternoon.

The forecast guidance still predicts that this will be Hurricane Wilma by Wednesday. Wilma will spend the next three days in a low-shear environment with water temperatures of 30 C (86 F), which should allow intensification into at least a Category 2 storm, perhaps even a Category 3. Wilma reminds me of Rita, which spent about three days trying to organize in the Bahamas before finally solidifying its inner core and rapidly intensifying. This storm may behave similarly.


Figure 1. Computer model tracks for Wilma.

Steering currents are expected to remain weak the next two days, and some erratic motion is possible. All of the forecast models predict a generally west or west-northwest motion over the next two days. However, this morning's southerly motion at 5 mph is something none of the forecast models have called for. This gives me some concern about this storm severely impacting Honduras and its neighboring Central American countries, particularly Guatemala, which is still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Stan. As Wilma grows in size, a continued southward motion may allow it to start pulling in a deep layer of moisture from the Pacific Ocean, which would trigger heavy rains over the regions of Guatemala and El Salvador hardest hit by Stan. These rains would probably be in the 3 - 5 inch range--nowhere near the devastating 15 - 25 inches seen from Stan, but still high enough to trigger new mudslides on the destabilized slopes of the steep mountainsides.

The computer models have been having huge difficulties with a weak trough of low pressure over the U.S. that may be able to pull Wilma northwards. Last night's 00Z (8pm) models runs of the five models we plot on our computer model tracking chart all failed to properly initialize this trough, calling for it to be weaker than is really is. This resulted in a set of model tracks with a much further west track for Wilma, bringing her into Belize or the Yucatan later in the week. This morning's 06Z (2am EDT) runs of the GFDL and GFS model did properly initialize this trough, and these new model runs now indicate a sharp turn to the northwest and north across western Cuba. Given that the models are not currently handling the southerly motion of the storm, I would be hesitant to believe this forecast yet. All the computer models were calling for a similar northward track for Hurricane Mitch in October 1998, and it ended up wandering south and getting stuck off of the coast of Honduras. However, a second much stronger low pressure system currrently bringing rain to southern California is expected to move east this week and push a trough far enough south to pull the storm northwards later in the week, if the current trough can't do the job. The west coast of Florida still appears likely to receive a hit from Wilma. The timing and severity of this blow are impossible to call at this point until Wilma starts her northwestward turn.

Elsewhere in the tropics, nothing else is happening. I'll be back with a update this afternoon about 4pm, when the latest set of model guidance will be in and the Hurricane Hunters will have visited the storm.

Stan revisited
The official death toll from Hurricane Stan in Guatemala is 654, with 830 people missing. Another 133 people have died in Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, making Stan one of the 30 deadliest hurricanes in history. Over 3.5 million Guatemlans have been affected by the storm, with nearly 5,000 homes destroyed and hundreds of thousands damaged. Many corn, sesame and sorghum crops along the south coast were been destroyed, and Guatemala will need extensive long-term aid to recover from this immense disaster. The Guatemalan Red Cross has made available a way to donate online via the Active network (www.active.com). With the earthquake disaster in Pakistan and Hurricane Katrina competing for attention, donations are urgently needed in Guatemala.


Figure 2. View of the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala, looking south towards the Pacific Ocean. The circulation of Hurricane Stan pulled a deep layer of moist air off of the Pacific Ocean, which triggered heavy rains of 15 - 25 inches. A huge mudslide roared down the slope of the Toliman volcano and buried the town of Panabaj, killing over 400 Guatemalans. Note the brownish deforested areas on the slopes of the Toliman volcano; the lack of vegetation on the slopes contributed to many of the mudslides from this disaster.


Jeff Masters

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420. Arrow70
6:15 AM GMT on October 18, 2005

Below is a link the the Univeristy of Wisconsin's Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery shot of Wilma. Does anyone here have any idea what is happening to the left of Wilma in this image?? It sure isn't thunderstorms.........

Below is a link to a University of Wisconsin Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery shot of Wilma. Look at the strange occurance to the left of Wilma. I've never seen anything like it.......Does anyone have a clue as to what's happening in this image??

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/marti/2005_TWENTY-FOUR/webManager/displayGifsBy12hr_04.html
419. snowboy
10:07 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Look at the latest Floater IR and WV images - I predict Wilma achieves Cat 1 status tonight!
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
418. Hecker
9:54 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Member Since: June 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 308
417. Hecker
9:53 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Member Since: June 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 308
416. 8888888889gg
9:48 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
120MB AH AH THAT TOO FUNNY LOL NO WAY THAT WOULD BE A CAT 50
415. 8888888889gg
9:46 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
DR JEFF HAVE A NEW POST
414. subtropic
9:45 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
I LOVED Madiera beach. I wanted to move my band there in the 90s. We almost did it. Do they still have that tremndous mini golf place by the beach?
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
413. AZTrojan
9:45 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
If its global warming now. What was it in 1933?
Member Since: December 23, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 5
412. BigKahuna
9:45 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Hi Guys,

Long time lurker..first post. Another neighbor from the panhandle. In Destin, appreciate everyone's links and input. It really helps!
411. hurricane79
9:44 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Yeah, i have a wedding to go to on Saturday on Madiera Beach, Florida along the Central West Gulf Coast of Florida. I wonder if she will be broadcasting on the beach during the wedding..LOL
410. gbreezegirl
9:42 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Thanks hurricane 79! Glad not to be in the "Cone of Doom" yet. Of course you know there is that rumor about the magnet over P'cola. (and the of course Ms. Abrams was in Gulf Shores all weekend - one has to wonder) LOL!
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 274
409. hurricane79
9:40 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Thanks, i wish I knew more into the future so I could extend the track, but that will come with time...most likely 12 to 24 hours from now will shed more light on the landfall location
408. subtropic
9:39 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
David. I hope you got a smile out of that. Just a little humor.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
407. hurricane79
9:39 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
gbreezegirl, she is not going to the Florida panhandle, she will be hitting the Florida peninsula West Coast, too early to exactly tell where
406. subtropic
9:37 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
79. Nice work as usual.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
405. gbreezegirl
9:37 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
So where are you saying she is headed hurricane 79? We here in the panhandle get nervous when you point an arrow at us! LOL!
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 274
404. leftyy420
9:37 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
79 like ur track. i am posting in my blog now and if u want to stop be ur more than welcome to

lefty's blog
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
403. subtropic
9:36 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
David, I say it will drop to 120MB and the entire western hemisphere will be sucked into it as a result.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
402. hurricane79
9:35 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
My track does not include an inevitable right turn that Wilma will make in the Gulf: Link
401. 8888888889gg
9:30 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
I THIS LIKE TO PLAY HOW LOW WILL IT GO SO 930MB THAT WOULD MAKE WINDS AT 135MPH I TTHINK THAT A CAT 4 OR 140 OR 145 MPH MPH ANY THINK I AM RIGHT
400. HurricaneZane
9:30 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Night all --- I will be check in tomorrow to see where the "cone of doom" has set it sights on... Have a good night..

399. hurricane79
9:30 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
.....to Move WNW , but that trough will progress East and erode the ridge over florida too. With that trough will come SW upper and mode level winds. Those winds should pick her up in the Gulf. "Just how sharp of a turn" as the NHC mentions is becasue we do not know how strong the SW winds will be over the Gulf in 96 hours.
398. weatherboyfsu
9:28 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Man ol Man......Im walking in Tall cotton......whewwwwwwwww.....here comes WILMA....Ive been teased so much this year, I feel like Ive been to one of those there provocitive bars throwing dollars.......lol.........
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
397. turtlehurricane
9:25 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
i have updated my blog with my wilma forecast and update
Member Since: July 22, 2005 Posts: 227 Comments: 469
396. code1
9:24 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Hi Quake and tripleb,
Neighbors here. If the unthinkable happens and it heads our way, we need to exchange email addresses along with gbreeze and navarre to keep in touch! After Ivan, you know what I mean.
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 66 Comments: 13872
395. hurigo
9:24 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
AySz thanks for the definition. All kidding aside, I am interested in the "data over a large area of the atmosphere," as that is what guides the professionals in their predictions. With this storm,sounds like the forecast is based on the assumption that the high pressure ride will erode when the trof comes in from the left coast, allowing an opening to bring the storm north and then northeast, thus the forecast toward Florida.
Member Since: October 9, 2005 Posts: 100 Comments: 6729
394. subtropic
9:24 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Correct zane. Southeast coast to be more specific. We were under the southern cdo and you can see from the pics in my gallery how bad it was in spite of that. This storm I am more concerned with rain. My house still has structural issues from Francis and Jeanne. Intense rain for any period of time could be a big problem. Wind I can handle. Of course, I fully expect the forecast track to keep changing, so no alarm bells going off yet. Glad you are out of this one at least for the moment.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
393. HurricaneZane
9:19 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Sub tropic--SO funny! you must be on the east coast of fl, then , right..
I am too... only up in Jax

My Brother in law lost his entire roof during Jeanne.. was NOT pretty...

Our weather guy just said that for now he is calling for an increase of clouds and rain for this weekend... How about that for an all emcompassing weather forcast.. No one knows what this one will do yet, I guess...

at least we are not in the "cone of doom" this time--yet
392. HurricaneKing
9:18 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
She is going to go to Florida if you ask me.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2470
391. PCBguy
9:16 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
But where is she coming???
390. HurricaneKing
9:14 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Here she is.Here she comes.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2470
389. weatherdude65
9:14 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
JenD...not good news for us.
I am out for the night, have a good one
388. MandyFSU
9:13 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Yeah, but she's gonna be a BIG girl... guess we'll have to wait & see.

Night all!
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 82 Comments: 2525
387. LakeWorthFinn
9:13 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
thx and hi hurigo, torn, hi to all others too, will answer mail now
Member Since: October 6, 2005 Posts: 67 Comments: 7284
386. hurigo
9:12 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Who came up with the BASIC SYNOPTIC REASONING? and I am equally inspired by WeatherDude's planned use of the term. I think I'll find a reason to use it tomorrow!
Member Since: October 9, 2005 Posts: 100 Comments: 6729
385. HurricaneKing
9:12 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Some models*
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2470
384. hurricane79
9:12 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
MandyFSU, she will turn South of Tally I am pretty sure. More likely between the Big Bend and South Florida (Thats still a big area for now)
383. HurricaneKing
9:11 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Somemodels bring it up the east coast after Florida. I hope not.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2470
382. CybrTeddy
9:11 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Tom Terry said Wilma is coming right at us here in Central Florida. -oh joy

JenD
::deploy the Cantore!!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23663
381. hurricane79
9:11 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
88888888 930 MB at 96 hours max strength
380. subtropic
9:10 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Wow. Sorry finn. That was NOT the link I meant to place there. Try this one instead... Link
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
379. AySz88
9:10 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Um... in meteorology, synoptic means: Of or relating to data obtained nearly simultaneously over a large area of the atmosphere.
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 8
378. MandyFSU
9:09 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
79! That heads my way!
Eeek!
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 82 Comments: 2525
377. subtropic
9:09 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
LakeWorthFinn have a look at this Link

Zane, it's a phrase I came up with last year when we were staring down the barrel of Jeanne. We had just recently been told we were in the center of the Ivan cone at one point and we all know about Francis. When Jeanne came around, I needed to find a way to inject some humor into a bad situation. "Cone of doom" seemed to make everyone smile, so I use that now.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
376. weatherdude65
9:09 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Bye Mandy!!! I am out as well....I'll check back in tomorrow.
Good night all!
375. 8888888889gg
9:09 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
SO ANY ONE THINK THIS WILL BE A CAT 4 OR CAT 5 HURRICANE? AND IT IS TIME TO PLAY HOW LOW WILL THE MB GO LIKE 950MB I AM THNIK THIS IS THE WAY IT WIL GO


60 MPH 982MB

75 MPH 975MB

100 MPH 950MB

115 MPH 940MB

125 MPH 938MB

135 MPH 930 MB

145 MPH 925MB

155 MPH 915MB

165MB 907

175 MPH 900MB

I HOP NO KILL ME FOR THIS BUT WE WILL SEE HOW THIS STORM WILL GO SO LIKE I SAID BE FOR IT IS TIME TO PLAY HOW LOW WILL IT GO ANY ONE NO HOW BIG THIS STORM WILL GET AND IF ANY ONE NO THIS ? FOR ME LET ME NO
374. hurricane79
9:08 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
I have made a forecast track, nut do not go as far out in days as the NHC does at this time. I may add to it later tonight or on Tuesday once I can see exactly how quick Wilma will turn NE as she enters the Gulf Link
373. snowboy
9:08 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Subtropic, the Cone of Doom is indeed pretty wide, and that's only for the period to Saturday (when it gets interesting).
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 2547
372. MandyFSU
9:08 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Ok. The Dork is going home now. Hopefully to recoup some of the saneness she used to have. lol

If I don't get on tonight, I'll talk to you all tomorrow.

Bye!
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 82 Comments: 2525
371. HurricaneKing
9:08 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
You are talking about my home. Eastern NC.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2470
370. HurricaneZane
9:07 PM GMT on October 17, 2005
Accuweather has a huge "CONE OF DOOM"!

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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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