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 , 1:04 PM GMT on October 26, 2005
Wilma and New England
Wilma is gone. Cold waters and strong winds weakened her to a remnant low pressure system last night, which is now far out over the open Atlantic. Wilma claimed one last victim yesterday in Massachusetts, an unwary body surfer who never returned to shore. In Massachusetts, Wilma and a Nor'easter that developed next to the coast brought winds and rain that knocked out power to 70,000 residents. Winds gusted as high as 66 mph in Massachusetts, and 20-foot high waves and a two foot storm surge caused minor coastal flooding.
Wilma and Florida
You can tell electricity is beginning to return to many of the six million people who lost power during Wilma's rampage over Florida Monday--the number of wunderphotos posted of the damage has increased markedly, and I have made links to some of the more dramatic ones below. I had planned today to discuss in more detail the asymmetries of Wilma's winds on the hurricane's right and left sides as it moved so quickly over Florida, but the images I wanted to use are on a computer at NOAA's Hurricane Research Division, which is on Virginia Key in Miami. Most of Miami is still without power, and this discussion will have to wait until power is restored to the lab. Those of you trying to access the Hurricane FAQ will meet with a similar problem--the FAQ is on a computer in Miami. The National Hurricane Center, however, is still able to provide Internet access to its products.
Damage estimates for Wilma's insured damage now range from $6 - $9 billion in Florida, making it the third most costly hurricane in U.S. history. When combined with the damage done to Mexico and other Caribbean nations, Wilma may turn out to be the second costliest Atlantic hurricane of all time.
Tropical disturbance north of Panama
A tropical disturbance in the extreme south central Caribbean north of Panama has gotten better organized this morning. Two surface circulations have developed, one near 10N 81W just off the northwest coast of Panama, and one at 11N 76W just off the northwest coast of Venezuela. An impressive blow-up of deep convection is occurring this morning, and the QuikSCAT satellite measured winds of 15 - 25 mph, and one wind vector of 50 mph. Wind shear values over the disturbance have dropped to 10 knots, and are forecast to remain low this week. Most of the global forecast models predict that a tropical depression will form in this region later this week, and move slowly west-northwest toward Nicaragua.
Elsewhere in the tropics
A strong tropical wave is approaching the Leeward Islands today, and will spread heavy rains to those islands today and to Puerto Rico Thursday. Wind shear levels are about 10 - 15 knots, which is marginal for tropical storm development. There are no signs of a surface circulation at this time. This system looks similar to the tropical wave that spawned Tropical Storm Alpha, so we'll have to watch it as it moves west-northwest at 15 mph.
I'll be back later this afternoon with an update if either of these systems develop.
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