Tropical Storm Rafael drenching the Lesser Antilles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:15 PM GMT on October 13, 2012

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Tropical Storm Rafael formed late yesterday afternoon over the Lesser Antilles Islands, and is bringing gusty winds and very heavy rains to the islands today. Two-day rainfall amounts of 1 - 3" have been common over the Leeward Islands from Rafael, but the winds have stayed below tropical storm-force so far. Here are some of the peak gusts from Rafael as of noon EDT on Saturday:

Antigua: 37 mph
Martinique: 28 mph
St. Lucia: 39 mph
St. Martin: 26 mph

Satellite loops and radar loops show that Rafael has a large area of heavy thunderstorms to the east and southeast of the center. These thunderstorms are poorly organized, but were beginning to show a more organized spiral banding look late this morning. An upper-level low centered a few hundred miles south of the eastern Dominican Republic is pumping dry air into the west side of Rafael, and is creating a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear.


Figure 1. Radar image out of Martinique from 11:45 am EDT Saturday, October 13, 2012 showed a large area of heavy rain over nearly the entire Lesser Antilles Island chain due to Tropical Storm Rafael. Image credit: Meteo France.

Forecast for Rafael
The shear has dropped since Friday, and is is expected to remain in the moderate range through Monday, which should allow for some slow intensification of Rafael over the next few days. Heavy rains will continue over the entire Lesser Antilles Island chain, plus the Virgin Islands, today through Sunday. Puerto Rico can expect heavy rains on Sunday, but the dry air on the west side of Rafael should keep the Dominican Republic from seeing heavy rains. Rafael's strongest winds will be to the right of the center, and islands of Barbuda, Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Barthelemy, St. Eustatis, Anguilla, St. Martin, and Saba may see sustained winds as high as 45 mph Saturday night through Sunday as the strongest bands of Rafael move through. The only island at risk of seeing hurricane-force winds from Rafael is Bermuda. The 11 am EDT wind probability forecast from NHC gave Bermuda a 3% chance of experiencing hurricane-force winds on Tuesday, and a 27% chance of experiencing tropical storm-force winds.

Rafael's place in history
Rafael is the seventeenth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, putting this year in eighth place for busiest Atlantic season since record keeping began in 1851. Here are the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record:

2005 (28 named storms)
1933 (20 named storms, according to a new re-analysis)
1887 (19 named storms)
2010 (19 named storms)
2011 (19 named storms)
1995 (19 named storms)
1969 (18 named storms)
2012 (17 named storms)

There are two weak and short-lived storms from 2012 that stayed far out sea, and would likely have gone unnoticed in the pre-satellite era (before 1960): Tropical Storm Joyce and Tropical Storm Oscar. And while this season has been very busy for total number of named storms, we've had a below-average number of major hurricanes (just Hurricane Michael), and the total destructive power of the 2012 hurricane season as measured by the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) is only about 20% above average. See our newly-launched Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) page for a storm-by-storm breakdown of this years ACE, plus historical ACE stats for each ocean basin. Thanks go to Angela Fritz for putting this together!


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Storm Patty taken at 1:30 pm EDT Friday, October 12, 2012. At the time, Patty had top winds of 40 mph. High wind shear had exposed the lower-level circulation to view. Late on Saturday morning, wind shear had ripped Patty apart and the storm was declared dead. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting NCHurricane2009:

Looks are deceiving...its just a t-wave being enhanced by divergent upper winds on the SE Half of an upper vortex...the same upper vortex shearing it.

Now if upper ridging develops over the wave in response to latent heat release of the t-storms...then it becomes a different animal...


that's absolutely right...although I should see a yellow circle on this in the upcoming TWO's...if at all.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
If, and I mean if, Rafael can manage to align itself with the trough that is re-curving it just right it may try to do something similar to Hurricane Ophelia last year. I recall Ophelia in a similar position, and it was predicted to only be a Category 1 at peak, it went on to become a Category 4.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24164
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It's just a tropical wave and associated disorganized convection. There's not even a defined circulation.


Did you see anything that supports a higher intensity?


well. Then that is a great 50 mph storm... (I think it's 60 mph anyway)
why do you ask me that by the way?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Wow, this storm is really dying on me.

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Quoting NCHurricane2009:

What is their to say about Valerie and William?

I can't think of anything.

Quoting 1900hurricane:

Yeah that's a nasty looking storm for sure.

The storm headed straight for me looks like it may be cycling at the moment.


Hopefully you don't get hit by a tornado, stay safe.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I see people have been saying it looks like a TD already...

Looks are deceiving...its just a t-wave being enhanced by divergent upper winds on the SE Half of an upper vortex...the same upper vortex shearing it.

Now if upper ridging develops over the wave in response to latent heat release of the t-storms...then it becomes a different animal...
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I see people have been saying it looks like a TD already...

It's just a tropical wave and associated disorganized convection. There's not even a defined circulation.

Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
PAUL...
EP, 16, 2012101400, , BEST, 0, 141N, 1136W, 45, 1001, L

that's it??? just 50 mph...

Did you see anything that supports a higher intensity?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32256
PAUL...
EP, 16, 2012101400, , BEST, 0, 141N, 1136W, 45, 1001, L

that's it??? just 50 mph...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

None of the models develop it.


I see people have been saying it looks like a TD already...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
4 years ago we had TD15 which became OMAR LATER
TD15 was located in the same east Caribbean region as Rafael now...
___________________________________
TROPICAL DEPRESSION FIFTEEN ADVISORY NUMBER 3
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL152008
1100 PM AST MON OCT 13 2008

...TROPICAL DEPRESSION REMAINS STATIONARY...

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR PUERTO RICO AND THE
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS...THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS...AND THE EXTREME
EASTERN PORTION OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM ISLA SAONA TO CABO
ENGANO.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...INCLUDING POSSIBLE
INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED
BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.

AT 1100 PM AST...0300Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION FIFTEEN
WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 14.6 NORTH...LONGITUDE 69.4 WEST OR ABOUT
340 MILES...550 KM...SOUTHWEST OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO.

REPEATING THE 1100 PM AST POSITION...14.6 N...69.4 W. MOVEMENT...
STATIONARY. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH. MINIMUM CENTRAL
PRESSURE...1001 MB.


Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
404. Skyepony (Mod)
TRMM of 01S
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


that is supposed to be the next thing...a long tracking storm?

None of the models develop it.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32256
402. Skyepony (Mod)
TRMM of Rafael..quicktime movie
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Quoting Grothar:


that is supposed to be the next thing...a long tracking storm?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Yeah that's a nasty looking storm for sure.

The storm headed straight for me looks like it may be cycling at the moment.



Heads up Aggieland :)
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Quoting ncstorm:


Tornado warning near Caldwell, TX. Thunderstorm watch out East...wonder if warning will move into south central texas overnight?
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398. Skyepony (Mod)
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Steady showers here in Antigua. No lighting or thunder (as yet). My brothers went to St. Martin this morning I doubt very much they will be able to perform this weekend. Rafael takes center stage.
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Quoting Grothar:


Unofficial Sandy Update:

11.2 N
32.0 W
1001mb
W 16mph
Winds 50mph
Member Since: June 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 127
Quoting Skyepony:


That is a big trough in front of wave.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14311
394. Skyepony (Mod)
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I'm starting to worry more about the first one... really tightening up, strong hook echo:


Yeah that's a nasty looking storm for sure.

The storm headed straight for me looks like it may be cycling at the moment.

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Quoting wxchaser97:

You forgot Sandy, I think we could make it to Tony.

Sandy -> Character from kid TV show Spongebob.
Tony -> Tony Stewart

What is their to say about Valerie and William?
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St martin checking in again

Really blowing a gale and raining hard now
Worst yet to come I believe

Rain lashing the zinc roof sounds like an army of demented drummers , sleep may be tough to come by !

Got me Bose headphones and iTunes on the iPad to help

Dan
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Guess where the second one is headed. Yup, straight at me.

I'm starting to worry more about the first one... really tightening up, strong hook echo:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7834
Quoting NCHurricane2009:
This is the first time we've made it to anything past Nadine on this list of names. I wonder if we'll make it to Tony...or even further. I like some of the names we are starting to get through..for example:

Oscar -> The Grouch from Sesame Street
Patty -> Hamburgers
Rafael -> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Tony -> Frosted flakes...they're more than good...they're great!

You forgot Sandy, I think we could make it to Tony.

Sandy -> Character from kid TV show Spongebob.
Tony -> Tony Stewart
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Two storms currently tornado warned. This one in central TX with definite rotation:



And this one in east/central TX that looks very dangerous... multiple reports from the public of a tornado with this one:


Guess where the second one is headed. Yup, straight at me.
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This is the first time we've made it to anything past Nadine on this list of names. I wonder if we'll make it to Tony...or even further. I like some of the names we are starting to get through..for example:

Oscar -> The Grouch from Sesame Street
Patty -> Hamburgers
Rafael -> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Tony -> Frosted flakes...they're more than good...they're great!
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Dude...Rafael lookin' better and better...I think he'll by 60 mph by 11 PM. Anyone else? Are their obs we can find that prove Rafael is getting stronger than 50 mph?

They've not sampled the area of strongest winds since the mission began.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32256
Quoting NCHurricane2009:

What's up Wx97? Its been really cloudy up here in SE Michigan...we didn't have this much cloudiness when I lived in NC...

Cloudy and wet, I'm doing fine. There will be times like
this for the remainder of fall, and then comes winter.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting wxchaser97:

There isn't a recent ASCAT pass or a recon mission soon. ADT shows a 50mph storm right now, of course things could change.

What's up Wx97? Its been really cloudy up here in SE Michigan...we didn't have this much cloudiness when I lived in NC...
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Two storms currently tornado warned. This one in central TX with definite rotation:



And this one in east/central TX that looks very dangerous... multiple reports from the public of a tornado with this one:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7834
Was watching football while occasionally checking the radar when I saw this bugger. Let's just say that my awareness has certainly spiked by a pretty large margin...

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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Dude...Rafael lookin' better and better...I think he'll by 60 mph by 11 PM. Anyone else? Are their obs we can find that prove Rafael is getting stronger than 50 mph?

There isn't a recent ASCAT pass or a recon mission soon. ADT shows a 50mph storm right now, of course things could change.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
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Dude...Rafael lookin' better and better...I think he'll by 60 mph by 11 PM. Anyone else? Are their obs we can find that prove Rafael is getting stronger than 50 mph?
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I like DRY air....
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6049
Quoting washingtonian115:
We'll have to see if we have another warm up on the way in the U.S before October ends.That's the only way I'll see another storm in the caribbean.Because if these fronts keep coming down like this then It'll be closed for buisness.

Right on!

Also...someone asked (but I can't find it now) if Rafael's center regenerating eastward reduced Puerto Rico's threat. The answer is yes....but also keep in mind Rafael could soon turn west for a short-period depending on how much a surface to mid-level ridge from the NE US steers Rafael...so the threat to Puerto Rico isn't over yet...
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Quoting wxchaser97:
...CENTER OF RAFAEL NOW BETWEEN ST. MARTIN AND ST. CROIX...
8:00 PM AST Sat Oct 13
Location: 17.9°N 63.5°W
Moving: N at 12 mph
Min pressure: 1004 mb
Max sustained: 50 mph
Looks to pass right over there... so Caribboy can get his wish...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Rafael continues to become more symmetric as wind shear lowers.


And as his center regenerated closer to the t-storms this afternoon....

I did a blog update on Rafael...and rest of the Atlantic tropics. My track forecast leans westward relative to NHC for the long-term...I think that strong surface ridge over the NE US will influence Rafael's track a little more than NHC shows....
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Quoting 7544:


raf is looking good is that goin to be future sandy behind him looks like a td already


It's a good one.
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Quoting 7544:


raf is looking good is that goin to be future sandy behind him looks like a td already

But there isn't a well-defined circulation, it is possible but I don't think models develop it.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting SherwoodSpirit:


Been watching that blob today too. Glad to see you're on the job, Gro. ;)


That is the wave I posted coming off of Africa two days ago. I didn't think it would look so good. Almost has a spin, but I can't see any eye yet. ")
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someone may want to look into this
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370. 7544
Quoting Grothar:


raf is looking good is that goin to be future sandy behind him looks like a td already
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Quoting JLPR2:


Just a messy TW in the EAtl.
Maybe later can become something though I doubt it. is this the tw that develop into Sandy in the NW Caribbean?
Member Since: October 15, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 4401
...CENTER OF RAFAEL NOW BETWEEN ST. MARTIN AND ST. CROIX...
8:00 PM AST Sat Oct 13
Location: 17.9°N 63.5°W
Moving: N at 12 mph
Min pressure: 1004 mb
Max sustained: 50 mph
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting Grothar:


Been watching that blob today too. Glad to see you're on the job, Gro. ;)
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:


Been watching that line form a bow echo on the Ok/Ks border approaching Joplin and for a while there was a tornado vortex signature in it, but that part of the storm seems to have broken up a bit now. More behind that though...

Link

And all that mess is gonna ride right up I-44 to my neck of the woods near St. Louis sometime around midnight, I'm guessing.
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BULLETIN
TROPICAL STORM RAFAEL INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY NUMBER 5A
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL172012
800 PM AST SAT OCT 13 2012

...CENTER OF RAFAEL NOW BETWEEN ST. MARTIN AND ST. CROIX...


SUMMARY OF 800 PM AST...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...17.9N 63.5W
ABOUT 25 MI...40 KM WSW OF ST. MARTIN
ABOUT 85 MI...135 KM E OF ST. CROIX
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50 MPH...85 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...N OR 360 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1004 MB...29.65 INCHES
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14311

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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.