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 , 4:11 PM GMT on October 30, 2005
Hurricane Beta smashed ashore on the central coast of Nicaragua at 7 am EST this morning as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. Beta put on an impressive burst of intensification last night and had 115 mph winds for about six hours before weakening substantially just prior to landfall. This brief burst of intensification made Beta the seventh major hurricane of the 2005 season. This is one hurricane shy of the record of eight major hurricanes seen in 1950.
Beta probably brought a 15-foot storm surge to the coast, plus 100 mph plus winds in a small area up to 15 miles from the center. The east coast of Nicaragua is sparsely populated, and these winds and the storm surge probably only affected a small number of people. However, Beta's rains will cause serious flooding and mudslides over Nicaragua and Honduras the next two days as the storm moves over the mountains of western Nicaragua and dissipates. Beta may end up being Nicaragua's fourth worst hurricane of all time, behind Hurricane Joan of October 1988, the great 1605 hurricane that killed over 1300, and Hurricane Mitch of 1998. Joan killed 148 people in Nicaragua, with the large death toll blamed in part on the residents' resistance in the coastal town of Bluefield to evacuation.
Honduras will also suffer Beta's wrath, but is missing the core of Beta's moisture and will very likely avoid the kind of serious flooding that killed thousands during Hurricane Mitch of 1998. Tune into wunderblogger Helen's blog from Roatan Island, Honduras, to follow the storm. Roatan is on the central coast of Honduras--the area Hurricane Mitch hit hardest.
Beta is probably too small to emerge out over the Pacific and re-intensify into a tropical storm. Hurricane Joan did successfully make the crossing, to be reborn as Hurricane Miriam in eastern Pacific. However, Joan was a large and fast-moving Category 4 hurricane. Beta's remains should bring no more than 3-6 inches of rain to El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala over the next few days.
Elsewhere in the tropics
The large tropical disturbance in the central Caribbean that was interfering with Beta's circulation yesterday has weakened and has been partially absorbed by Beta. This disturbance is not expected to develop.
A large tropical wave located about 200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles has not become better organized today but has some potential for further development over the next few days as it moves west or west-northwest at 15 mph. This area of disturbed weather will bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the northern Leeward Islands today. If a tropical storm does develop from this wave, it could threaten Hispanolia, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas later in the week. Wind shear over the Caribbean is expected to remain low the next week, favoring tropical storm develoment of any tropical waves that traverse the region.
I'll be back with an update Monday morning.
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