Wilma devastating Cancun; TD 25 a major threat to Haiti

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:19 PM GMT on October 22, 2005

The eye of very dangerous Category 2 Hurricane Wilma remains onshore the Yucatan mainland near Cancun. The most extreme winds of the eyewall have now been battering Cozumel and the mainland Yucatan Peninsula for over 24 hours. Sustained winds of 100 - 140 mph affecting a built-up resort area like Cozumel/Cancun for so long must have done extreme damage. Wilma has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds, and may further weaken to a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds today as its center remains over land. Still, the damage to Mexico may double today as structures already weakened by 24 hours of relentless winds continue to receive another 12 hours of stress, and as new areas along the north coast of the Yucatan receive the eyewall's worst pounding.

Cancun radar, which is miraculously still functioning, shows the the eyewall of Wilma is degrading and starting to have gaps. The eye is now filled with clouds, and the cloud top temperatures of her eyewall clouds continue to warm as Wilma steadily weakens. When Wilma finally moves back over the ocean late tonight, she will probably be a weak Category 2 hurricane with 95 mph winds.

Conditions in Cancun
Wunderblogger LizinCancun reported yesterday on conditions in Cancun:

"We evacuated our home in Cancun yesterday and came 200 miles west to Merida. Our home sits about 100 feet away from the beach. The waves were crashing over our 6 foot tall sea wall yesterday before we left and destroyed the palapa that sits about 10 feet out in the water. We fully expect our home and all our belongings to be gone. We lost contact with all of our friends that stayed, cell and land lines are down of course as is power. We just talked with a friend that says the power is out, phones only working when the generators are running to pump out all the water. He said the hotel is blowing apart (not in the hotel zone) and all you can see when looking outside is a wall of water blowing sideways and pieces of things being shredded by the high winds, some huge."

Figure 1. Total rainfall for the week. Image generated by NASA's TRMM rainfall measuring satellite.

A deluge of rain
Rainfall amounts in Mexico from Wilma have been extreme. Isla Mujeres, just offshore from Cancun, has reported almost 35" of rain over the past 1 1/2 days, and at one point reported 4" of rain in one hour between 2 and 3 am EDT today. Rainfall amounts in Cuba have not been nearly so extreme--at least in the areas of western Cuba that are still reporting data. San Juan y Martinez measured 10.7 cm (4.2 inches) of rain the past 24 hours, and storm total rainfall amounts of up to 18 cm (7 inches) have been measured in Cuba's westernmost province. Grand Cayman received five inches, Jamaica's Kingston airport eight inches, and Belize four inches. The north coast of Honduras has had numerous locations receive ten inches of rain, with one unofficial report of 20 inches. Rainfall in Haiti reached 8 - 10 inches, and, triggered flash floods that killed 11 people.

How will Wilma affect Florida?
The latest 2 am EDT (06Z) model runs are in, and continue to agree on the basic scenario that Wilma will move offshore the Yucatan late tonight as a weak Category 2 hurricane. On Sunday, the storm will move slowly north and then northeast as westerly winds from a strong trough of low pressure start affecting the storm. There is about an 18-hour window of opportunity for Wilma to re-intensify to a Category 3 hurricane on Sunday. By Sunday night, Wilma will begin to accelerate, and wind shear will begin to substantially weaken the storm. By Monday morning, Wilma will cross the west coast of Florida between Fort Myers and the Keys as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. My best guess is that Wilma will be a 100-mph Category 2 hurricane hitting near Marco. Storm surges tend to be worse with large and faster moving hurricanes, so I would expect a storm surge characteristic of a Category 3 hurricane, 10 to 16 feet, in and south of Marco, causing very heavy damage in that city. Fortunately, the area south of Marco is primarily uninhabited--the Everglades swamp. However, if Wilma comes ashore north of Naples--or further south near the Keys--storm surge flood damage in those areas could easily reach billions of dollars. Storm surge flooding should be only 2 - 4 feet on the east coast of Florida, where wind damage is the primary threat.

Figure 2. Storm surge map for southwest Florida.

Wilma's winds and rain
Wilma will be moving too fast to dump more than 5 - 10 inches of rain. The rain will be concentrated on the north side of the hurricane, since there will be a cold front there that will trigger more condensation. Areas to the north of the eye's passage will see winds a full Category--25 to 30 mph--lower than those on the south. This is because the storm's high rate of forward motion, near 25 - 30 mph, will add to the windspeeds seen on the south side of the Wilma's counterclockwise rotation, and subtract on the north side. Since the storm will be moving so fast, the duration of hurricane force winds will be just a few hours.

After Florida, then what?
After crossing Florida, Wilma should bring tropical storm force winds to the northern Bahama Islands, but not hurricane force winds. Wilma should pass close enough to North Carolina's Outer Banks to bring 40 mph winds there. Wilma is not expected to bring high winds to New England, but could bring 50 mph winds to Nova Scotia five days from now.

TD 25
Tropical Depression 25 has formed 200 miles southwest of Puerto Rico, and looks like a good bet to develop into a tropical storm later today. Long range radar from San Juan, Puerto Rico shows some increasing spiral banding and echo intensity, and satellite imagery shows a good outflow channel developing to the southeast. Wind shear of about 10 knots is eroding the northwest portion of the storm.

Since we are all out of names this year, TD 25 will be given the name Alpha should it develop into a tropical storm. Given the storm's expected track over Haiti, the 8 - 12 inches of rain expected may cause heavy loss of life in that country due to the inability of the deforested hillsides to handle flood waters.

I'll be back in the morning with the latest, or later today, if events warrant.

Jeff Masters

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121. OGal
1:36 PM GMT on October 23, 2005
Hi all,finally I guess this storm is on its way. My husband just left to get four gerry cans filled, incase we need our generator. Believe me South Florida, I want it to all go away. I don't want anyone to be affected. Let's all promise to get back in touch tomorrow so we know everyone is ok, and if any of us can help our fellow weather bloger friends let's do it. Stay safe everyone and Central Florida this is no walk in the park for us. My son is a student pilot at Delta Academy and they are in the process of flying all the 152s,172s,Arrows, and Seminoles to Selma, Alabama.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 72 Comments: 19224
120. Gatorman
12:57 PM GMT on October 23, 2005
Hi Dawgfan,

Have to admit I like beating them Dawgs every year. Gotta run to church, take care.
119. rbrown3rd
2:16 AM GMT on October 23, 2005
My weather radio just alarmed reporting a possible tornado in northern Palm Beach County. Here in West Palm Beach it is dead calm.
118. Hecker
11:18 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
That Accuweather scenario looks like another Perfect Storm. Fishing captains, watch out!
Member Since: June 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 313
117. siboney
10:52 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Hi there mybahamas. I hope your place holds up without the plywood! I have a niece on Grand Bahama who says she's going to stay (she's new, teaching in an international school, just arrived in August, saw the birth of Katrina and was scared then). I advised her to be prepared to evacuate a couple of days ago but...

Do you know what kind of surge to expect?

Is there any kind of weather centre or other good local source of info on the net you could link me to please?

Otherwise hoping for the best...
116. NOLAinNC
10:31 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Here is the article from accuweather, cut and paste it into your browser

Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 9 Comments: 900
115. mybahamas
10:26 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
btw, to help my little toddler take his mind off his parents stressing about Wilma I produced this happy little track for him. You might like it, too :)

114. Dawgfan
10:24 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
href="headlines.accuweather.com/news-story.asp?partner=accuweather&myadc=1&traveler=0&article=6" target="_blank">Link

I have not been able to cut and paste a link on this blog. This is my final attempt if it fails to work. This is an interesting graphic about the possible merging of Wilma and Alpha.
10:21 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
tampa should at least have ts gusts, by the way i posted before saying hello to everyone so....hi everyone miami reporting in
10:18 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
i think everyone needs to stop paying so much attention to the exact landfall point, remember that hurricane force winds extend 85 miles from the center and likely even further on the south side once the storm hits, not to mention the tornado threat for all of s.fl. definitely anyone in the cone should put your shutters up and prepare, remember how katrina caught us here in miami by surprise.good luck to everyone here in fl. and i hope that tues. we will all be on this site reporting that we are ok. on a side note the wildlife has been awfully quiet here in my neighborhood today
111. tampaman
10:18 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
I wonder if there will be trop storm force winds in Tampa? The wind field is fopcast to expand as Wilma crosses Florida. Fort meyers is 140 miles south of Tampa.
110. wadcane
10:17 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Comments and observations

I am no means a weather expert not even a novice but I have studied the IR floaters and looked at the fronts. I tunrned on the graph that display the troph. It has changed. Do you notice that the troph has become bowed in the center. The extreme west side of the troph is digging deeper into the extreme west side of the Gulf while the center of the troph is bowed nothward. It seems that Wilma outer bands have bowed the troph. Could this cause Wilma to drift more westward and than North before it makes it turn toward FL??????
109. Dawgfan
10:12 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
nope, I had it right the first time. LOL
108. Dawgfan
10:10 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Sorry, I meant that Wilma is 300 to 400 miles WEST of where she was projected to be by now on October 18th.
107. Dawgfan
10:02 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Looking back at the NWS advisories there are two things of interest. On the 11pm October 18th advisory, the sustained windspeed of Wilma was 65 mph. Six hours later on the 5am advisory, Wilma's sustained winds were 175 mph. That has to be a record for intensification in that short of a period of time.
The second thing is that on October 18th the track was to clip the west tip of Cuba and make landfall in South Florida on Saturday night. I know the line is just a projected guideline, but Wilma is currently about 300 to 400 miles east of where she was projected to be by now on the October 18th advisory. My point is that the current projected guideline could end up being off quite a bit by Monday. I just hope that the strength of this storm is dimininshed enough that it doesn't cause severe damage or loss of life.

Last year it was supposed to be a record for the first time that a state had been hit by four hurricanes in a single year since records have been kept. (Charlie, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne) This one will mean that it has happened again. (Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma).
106. rxse7en
9:59 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Mybahamas, Wilma should be pretty weak and moving pretty quickly after it passes over Florida--like Jacksonville you're in for some rain and "breezy." :D

What island do you live on? I take the family to Treasure Cay for vacations :D

Member Since: August 21, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 666
105. icmoore
9:57 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
GO GATORS or maybe come on gators!
Member Since: July 18, 2005 Posts: 9 Comments: 4159
104. mybahamas
9:51 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
hiya from The Bahamas :)
what kind of effect do you think we will have in The Bahamas from Wilma now that she is expected to be a stronger cane at landfall ?
103. Dawgfan
9:43 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Gatorman - I am in Valdosta, GA just north of the Florida state line. I believe the cold front has passed through us or is about to, so we are not expecting any problems from Wilma. Yes, GA scraped by with several key starters hurt, but both Alabama and USC barely won last week. Aren't you sick and tired of seeing the Gators beat the DAWGS? I know I am!
102. CapeHaze
9:37 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Cybr: I don't see a legend for their models. Wonder why WFTV models are different then those posted here?
101. Jeremey
9:37 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Over a very long period of time, all the greek letters will be used up. Maybe they should add Roman Numerals after the name, like Alpha II, Beta IV, etc...
100. NOLAinNC
9:33 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Here is an article on the retiring alpha subject. It says that they would retire it if it is a major catastrophe, but doesn't say what they would do in future years (replace it with another name or what?)

Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 9 Comments: 900
99. Gatorman
9:30 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Hey Dawgfan,

You guys escaped today. Hope Shockley's knee is ok. As much as I want the Gators to kick your butt I hate to see a kid get hurt. Don't know where you're located but I wish you and yours well.
98. Gatorman
9:24 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
5:00 advisory now puts us on the dirty side of Wilma. Guess the argument is gonna get a little more heated. To all in this area, God Bless.
97. Dawgfan
9:20 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
The models for Wilma and Alpha have them both near the same location off the Florida east coast Monday evening.
Could Alpha be sucked into Wilma if they were to get close together or would Wilma push Alpha away from her?
96. MisterJimster
9:20 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
The breezes are slightly gusty here in St. Pete and I've only heard one bird all afternoon. Though it isn't extremely hot it feels humid and I've noticed the barometer falling slowly all day. I've also noticed that the forecast track keeps creeping more and more northward and the strike probabilities percentage wise from Tampa south don't differ all that much. The latest report says Wilma is beginning to edge out over water again and has actually drifted slightly west of due north. I still think further north then Ft. Myers-Tampa or Sarasota area. By the way the report has her at cat 2 with 100 mph winds.
95. CybrTeddy
9:16 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
It's our local radar here in Orlando.
You can find it at wftv.com
::Operation move Cantore NORTH!!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 25305
94. quakeman55
9:16 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
So what if Alpha dumps loads of rain on Haiti and kills hundreds of people...how would we retire it?? I know this has been asked several times, but I don't know if even the NHC has an answer to that one.
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
93. irecthh
9:15 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Brevard County Schools cancelled for Monday
92. theboldman
8:59 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Here you are at 5 PM EDT...the government of the Dominican Republic has issued a
Tropical Storm Warning for the entire northern coast. A Tropical
Storm Warning is now if effect for the entire coastline of the
Dominican Republic.

At 5 PM EDT...the Bahamas government has upgraded the tropical storm
watch to a Tropical Storm Warning for the southeast Bahamas and
Turks and Caicos.

A tropical Strom warning remains in effect for the entire coastline
of Haiti.

Tropical storm center located near 17.0n 68.9w at
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
91. marcomama
8:59 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
I know what you mean, Gator -- only it's like it's been 4/14 for 3 days!! I know you'd like them to leave, but I wouldn't want to leave a family member behind eiter; not after Katrina and Rita.
90. CapeHaze
8:58 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
CyberTeddy: Where are you seeing the models?
89. Gatorman
8:55 PM GMT on October 22, 2005

Already factored in the wind speed on the S side. Figure it will be 130-145mph. Geez, I feel like a taxpayer waiting on 4/15 to see how bad I'm gonna get slammed. I'm still trying to get her to leave, getting a lot of resistance.GLTA
88. CybrTeddy
8:55 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
I honestly think the NHC is holding out for the
NOGAPS runs. If the NOGAPS shifts this evening with it's
newest track I'd hope they would narrow the cone some.

Fact still remains the GFS has been consistantly predicting more north.

Still we all need to remain on guard.
::Operation move Cantore!!
::GFS and GFDL agree.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 25305
87. GoldenGate
8:52 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
JPoulard - Godspeed - you're in our prayers
86. GoldenGate
8:51 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
LOL, Cape Coral, I guess your name says it all! I'm with you - wishes of safety and well being going out to everyone here.
85. WellingtonFL
8:50 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
I will be getting the video camera out and will be posting some storm vids on my website (www.sunraypc.com) if anyone is interested. I will publish direct video links here in the days to come if I have an internet connection. I hope it lasts longer then in previous storms... was the first thing to go in Frances, Jeanne, and Katrina (Even though Katrina hit 50 miles south of here as a minimal Cat1) You gotta love Adelphia.
84. jcpoulard
8:49 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Hello Every One
This is my last message untill thursday ....
So Haiti Get Alpha and nothing is doing by the governement to evacuate people at the dangerous areas ..... May be some citys will have the same problem with Gonaives and the Prime minister will ask for help ...... for money ....
But the GOV didn't really post any warning at the time at talk to you. I was talking to 10 people in different area and no one know about a Tropical Storm for to night or tomorrow morning ! That's very bad .... I'm Affraid very affraid we will hit Hard ....... Very Hard......
Member Since: September 15, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 114
83. GoldenGate
8:49 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Marcomama, my dogs hate it when I am on the computer. Like most pets, they want your undivided attention.
8:43 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
GOLDENGATE, I totally feel your pain, nary a mention of Cape Coral either, anywhere. It's as if that tiny little beach in the Ft. represents the entire Lee county coast. There are many of us on or close to the coastline here in CAPE CORAL, one of the biggest cities (sizewise) in FL! Whatever happens, my bitching aside, I hope everyone from top to bottom of FL makes it through ok.
81. SantaBarbaraNaples
8:42 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Thanks for the info Jen. One thing you neglected to report was the following line near the end:

"(The NHC shows landfall near Naples and a track directly over Lake Okeechobee, and off the coast near West Palm Beach.)"

I guess we'll find out soon enough. :/
80. marcomama
8:41 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
G Gate: I'm not really on Marco, though I work there and spend a lot of my time there. I'm by 951 and 41 and all our little animals are running around. My cats are bothering me more, but that's 'cause I'm on the computer so often now.
79. GoldenGate
8:39 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Hey Marcomama - I have seen the surge maps and we are good I think for 14 ft. - 22 ft. - Cat 4 is our cutoff. I understand our street elevation is 15', house elevation is 19'. So those stats are pretty good. So far, no ants in the house, and I have plenty of birds and little furry creatures still running around in the yard, if that means anything....
78. marcomama
8:37 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Duh, there's a storm surge map right above us. I forget what blog I'm on.
77. marcomama
8:35 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
G Gate and Gatorman: I also think it's odd that they haven't started an evacuation for other parts of Naples. Have you seen the storm surge maps? Link

If we're south of Wilma when it hits, add another category to where you're located.
76. GoldenGate
8:35 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Gatorman - you have very lucky clients. I'd gladly leave, but hubby does not want to leave. I understand your family not wanting to leave you. The agony of wondering if you were okay would be unbearable.
75. thebige
8:33 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
WE HAVE ALPHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: June 12, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
74. SEFL
8:33 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
"I personally prefer no broken glass & minimal seepage. :)"

The principle purpose for shutters is not to keep glass from breaking per se...it is to keep the wind out and therefore your roof on!
73. Jeremey
8:32 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
Punta Gorda here, not liking the models shifting upward every time they are ran, boarding up in the morning. No ants to report, and the local birds don't seem to concerned.
72. Gatorman
8:29 PM GMT on October 22, 2005

I'm here in the Estates as well. Still debating whether to send my wife and kids up north. I want them to leave, they want to stay. I don't leave because, as a CPA who works from home, I can't possibly package up all the confidential info I have here at my home, take down the computers after backing up everything, etc., etc. I also have 75 yr old neighbors who have been wonderful to us for over 7 years and I am concerned for their safety. I'd bail if I were you, my liability insurance doesn't cover my butt enough because the insurance co will say I was negligent if the info I have here is stolen even though I've taken every precaution possible except for destroying said records. Thanks to the lawyers I have to stay so I don't get smoked. #######'s. Best to you and everyone else in the cone.
71. stormygace
8:28 PM GMT on October 22, 2005
GG - all is good - you all are in an incredibly stressful situation & probably pretty burned out after this season! I am way up the coast & get worried (oddly hubbo really does not).

wellington - smart to cover up - I have to contend w/a claustrophobe in the house who wants us NOT to put up aluminum covers on BIG south facing windows b/c she "doesn't like living in a cave". I personally prefer no broken glass & minimal seepage. :)
Member Since: September 7, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 1111

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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