Barbara Nearing Mexico at Hurricane Strength; Midwest Tornado Outbreak Today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:02 PM GMT on May 29, 2013

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Hurricane warnings are flying for the Pacific coast of Mexico, where Tropical Storm Barbara is rapidly intensifying as it makes landfall. Barbara should be ashore by 2 pm EDT (11 am PDT), and is expected to intensify to a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds before landfall. Barbara formed on Tuesday night (May 28), an unusually early date for the formation of the Eastern Pacific's second storm of the year. The record earliest second storm of the year occurred just last year, on May 21 (Tropical Storm Bud.) The previous record was set in 1984, when the second named storm (Boris) formed on May 29. Reliable records of Eastern Pacific hurricanes go back to 1949. Barbara wasted no time getting organized, and is gathering strength in impressive fashion as it nears landfall in Mexico's Bay of Tehuantepec area. The storm's main threat is very heavy rains of up to a foot, which will be capable of causing dangerous flash floods and mudslides over the next 2 - 3 days. However, wind damage and the expected 3 - 5 foot storm surge are also a concern, since the area of the coast it is hitting, though not heavily populated, has very little hurricane experience. According to NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracks website, only one Eastern Pacific hurricane has ever hit the Bay of Tehuantepec--Category 1 Hurricane Rick of 1997. Radar out of Puerto Angel, Mexico shows that Barbara has built a partial eyewall, and the storm has already spread heavy rains ashore along portions of the Mexican coast. Satellite loops show that Barbara is a relatively small storm, with a modest area of heavy thunderstorms.


Figure 1. Radar image of Barbara from Puerto Angel, Mexico, taken at 9:30 am EDT (6:30 am PDT) May 29, 2013. Image credit: CONAGUA.

May tropical storm landfalls are rare in the Eastern Pacific
Only eight named storms that formed in May have hit land in the Eastern Pacific since accurate hurricane records began in 1949--an average of one storm every eight years, according to NOAA's Historical Hurricane Tracks website. Just one of these May storms made landfall as a hurricane--Category 1 Hurricane Agatha of 1971, which hit Mexico west of Acapulco. But one of the deadliest and most destructive Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones of all-time was a May storm that never reached hurricane strength--Tropical Storm Agatha of May 29, 2010, which had top winds of only 45 mph at landfall. Agatha dissipated just one day after making landfall, but its remnants lingered over Central America for six days, dumping torrential rains that triggered deadly flash floods and landslides; Mazatenango, Guatemala, reported 22.27 inches of rain from May 25 - 30, 2010. At least 190 people died, mostly in Guatemala, making Agatha the 7th deadliest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone in history. Agatha's $1.2 billion in damage made it the 6th most expensive Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record. Fortunately, Barbara is hitting a region of the coast that is relatively sparsely populated compared to where Agatha hit, and Barbara is not likely to cause anywhere close to the devastation that Agatha wrought.


Figure 2. Journey to the center of the Earth: a massive sinkhole 66 feet (20 m) across and 100 ft (30 m) deep opened up on May 29, 2010 in Guatemala City after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Agatha. The sinkhole collapsed suddenly, taking a three-story house that was used as factory, claiming fifteen lives. The sinkhole formed because Guatemala City is built upon volcanic pumice deposits, which are unconsolidated and of low density, allowing easy erosion. According to Sam Bonis, a geologist at Dartmouth College, because of lax city zoning regulations and building codes, leaking pipes went unfixed long enough to create the conditions necessary for this hole to form (it technically wasn't a sinkhole, since sinkholes form in limestone rock.) How do you patch something like this?

Tropical cyclone development unlikely in the Atlantic during the coming seven days
Barbara is expected to push northwards and cross into the Gulf of Mexico by Friday, but the storm is small enough and moving slowly enough that Barbara will likely dissipate before reaching the Gulf. If the storm were able to maintain at least tropical depression status and cross into the Gulf, it would keep the name Barbara. If Barbara were to dissipate before reaching the Gulf, then regenerate into a tropical storm in the Gulf, it would be named Andrea. However, conditions do not favor redevelopment of Barbara's remnants into an Atlantic tropical depression, since wind shear is expected to be quite high over the Gulf late this week. None of the reliable computer models is calling for tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic during the next seven days.

AP will be doing a hurricane twitter chat on Thursday at 1 p.m. EDT: #APStormChat

The National Hurricane Center is doing a hurricane chat on Thursday at 2 pm EDT: #HurriChat


Figure 3. Large tornado on the ground near Corning, Kansas, at 4:32 CDT May 28, 2013. Image credit: Ron Heinen, via twitter.


Figure 4. Radar reflectivity image of the tornado that hit Corning, Kansas at 4:32 pm CDT May 28, 2013.


Figure 5. Severe weather outlook for Wednesday, May 29, calls for a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather over much of Oklahoma and Kansas, plus portions of the Texas Panhandle. You can follow today's severe weather outbreak from our Severe Weather page.

Multi-day severe weather outbreak in the Midwest continues today
It was an active day for tornadoes in the Midwest on Tuesday, with NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logging eighteen preliminary tornado reports, with twisters touching down in Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. No injuries were reported from these tornadoes, but damage was reported near Corning, Kansas, and Fenton, Michigan. The latest forecasts from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center call for a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather today (Wednesday), with the possibility of a significant tornado outbreak over much of Oklahoma and Kansas, plus portions of the Texas Panhandle.

Wunderblogger Lee Grenci has a post, The Moore Tornado, describing how the rapid intensification of the May 20, 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado occurred.

Jeff Masters

Overhead Clouds at Sunset (Nikongranny)
Overhead Clouds at Sunset

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Quoting StormTrackerScott:
Folks in FL this is setting up to be a very dangerous flood set up. Could be atleast 2 feet of rain over the next 2 weeks in some areas.


I'M GONNA NEED SOME TALLER BOOTS!
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Good afternoon. Barbara looks excellent, really a classic hurricane coming onshore, thankfully it is pretty much out of time to strengthen but impacts are definitely going to be worse than originally expected.



Any bit of strength it builds up now can only help it survive its journey over Mexico and into the BOC.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:


Thanks! Look like eyewall wasn't completed as last scan update.


No problem.

Yeah. It is slightly old, though.
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
just with the florida trough the forecast would be interesting but with barbara moving into the gulf who knows what this might turn into
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Quoting Civicane49:


Link


Thanks! Look like eyewall wasn't completed as last scan update.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
Quoting ncstorm:
last frame of the Euro:0


Hmm. There are 2 competing lows in the gulf one being whatever will be left of Barbara. Right now, I am favoring the EURO over the GFS
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last frame of the Euro:0

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Quoting calkevin77:


That is scary to say the very least. Given all the widespread precip predicted over the next few days, it will be interesting to see what drought monitor reports a week from tomorrow. If this doesn't have a positive impact on drought and overall soil moisture, I don't know what will short of a storm the size of Typhoon Tip hanging out over the CONUS for about a week.

Now that WOULD be scary. Thats almost half the US u know
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I'm on a different computer so I don't have bookmarks. Which page have the microwaves so I can see the structure of the storm?


Link
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
I'm on a different computer so I don't have bookmarks. Which page have the microwaves so I can see the structure of the storm?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
Quoting MississippiWx:
Barbara is certainly going to be way more trouble for Mexico than we expected. I'd venture to say she's knocking on Cat 2 intensity right now.



Have to say she looks nice. Certainly not one of those early sloppy-looking things we usually see and scratch our heads over development. ;)
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424. VR46L
Current Stats as of 18Z from Tropical East Pacific

Best Track Position and Intensity as of:
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 18:00 Z

Location at the time:
65 statue miles (105 km) to the ESE (114) from Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, Mxico.

Wind (1 min. avg.):
65 knots (~75 mph | 33 m/s | 120 km/h)

Pressure:
990 mb (29.24 inHg | 990 hPa)

Coordinates:
15.8N 94.3W
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Quoting StormTrackerScott:
Folks in FL this is setting up to be a very dangerous flood set up. Could be atleast 2 feet of rain over the next 2 weeks in some areas.


That is scary to say the very least. Given all the widespread precip predicted over the next few days, it will be interesting to see what drought monitor reports a week from tomorrow. If this doesn't have a positive impact on drought and overall soil moisture, I don't know what will short of a storm the size of Typhoon Tip hanging out over the CONUS for about a week.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
How completed is the eyewall?

by the looks of it very or almost complete
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12151
Quoting MississippiWx:


Yeah, the divergence factor was one of my concerns. However, shear specifically shouldn't be her end. The GFS hints at her having an issue keeping together the low level vorticity. Not sure why. Might be a competition with her vort and the monsoon trough or the GFS is too weak with her to begin with as I mentioned in my last post.
Yeah, likely competition from the strong monsoon circulation over central America, plus less than ideal conditions for convection in the BOC (divergence). For example at 48hrs (below), upper level streamlines are pointing directly into the BOC. Overall, the upper levels may still be slightly divergent in the BOC, but surrounding areas (like the Yucatan peninsula) are under a much more divergent environment aloft. Since the entire region is moist and unstable for the most part, more divergence = more convection. As a result, convection is favored more elsewhere creating competition.

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Barbara is certainly going to be way more trouble for Mexico than we expected. I'd venture to say she's knocking on Cat 2 intensity right now.

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How completed is the eyewall?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
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Quoting StormTrackerScott:
People forget that Debby produced some large tornadoes across the state. The one over Lake Wales was a beast.

This tornado was in Tampa




LOL... wrong button. I liked it... just in case.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Barbara has likely peaked as it is about to make landfall on the Mexican coast.
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Here is the massive Lakes Wales tornado during TS Debby.

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WV isn't screaming shear, so if she can make it across intact, generate some surface lift in the dry air of the GoM, she might show us something. We'll see. :)

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This tornado during TS Debby was captured by Bay News 9.
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Good afternoon all.

I see that Barbara has become a hurricane, which I am not surprised.

Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
The 12z GFS ensembles sure do seem to favor Barbara regenerating in the GOMEX.
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Hurricane Barbara right now
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Shear directly over here isn't bad but the upper level environment as a whole won't be ideal. Specifically, upper level divergence to the NW will be a problem. Upper level trough pushing against her ULAC at 36hrs (as seen below) is the reason for this. If the land interaction doesn't tear her up too bad, she may be able to hang around, though. GFS seems to suggest this idea.



Yeah, the divergence factor was one of my concerns. However, shear specifically shouldn't be her end. The GFS hints at her having an issue keeping together the low level vorticity. Not sure why. Might be a competition with her vort and the monsoon trough or the GFS is too weak with her to begin with as I mentioned in my last post.
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People forget that Debby produced some large tornadoes across the state. The one over Lake Wales was a beast.

This tornado was in Tampa


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Quoting MississippiWx:


I'm not sure, it could be a combination of things. One thing that is glaring to me is that the GFS is way to weak with Barbara at initialization. The fact that Barb is a much stronger system than what the GFS is showing could be one reason why the GFS ends up being wrong. Barbara may end up finding unfavorable wind shear on the other side eventually, but I don't see that being the issue initially.

Here is what the GFS says Barb should be about now.


also GFS has it landfalling further W than it really is
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12151
Quoting MississippiWx:


I'm not sure, it could be a combination of things. One thing that is glaring to me is that the GFS is way to weak with Barbara at initialization. The fact that Barb is a much stronger system than what the GFS is showing could be one reason why the GFS ends up being wrong. Barbara may end up finding unfavorable wind shear on the other side eventually, but I don't see that being the issue initially.

Here is what the GFS says Barb should be about now.

Yeah, can't always be reliable on computer models. That's why NHC is professional. They figures things out from what they see using different tools.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
Folks in FL this is setting up to be a very dangerous flood set up. Could be atleast 2 feet of rain over the next 2 weeks in some areas.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I'm not seeing anything that says shear will be the main problem for Barbara surviving the passage over into the Gulf. Here is the GFS forecast for shear in the next 24 hours. Looks like at the most 10-15kts over Barb. If it can keep its circulation intact and restrengthen convection over the BOC, the ULAC might be able to tag along with it instead of getting hung up off the Mexican Pacific coastline.

Shear directly over here isn't bad but the upper level environment as a whole won't be ideal. Specifically, upper level divergence to the NW will be a problem. Upper level trough pushing against her ULAC at 36hrs (as seen below) is the reason for this. If the land interaction doesn't tear her up too bad, she may be able to hang around, though. GFS seems to suggest this idea.

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Quoting SFLWeatherman:

I added a comment after the 1000/2000 feet comment saying mountains on the western side of Barbara is 8,000 feet to 10,000 feet.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8030
Quoting Thrawst:
Baha how are you handling this weather??
Everything is cool... so far it's been limited flooding and water on the roads I've been on. I'm assuming u didn't make your way to the eastern end of the island this morning...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
Quoting TomTaylor:
It's conditional; your statement isn't always true either. A larger storm (one with more mass and a larger radius) will have greater inertia, so it will be able to resist change better, but if it is weak to begin with then it wont take much to get the storm below TS threshold. For example, if I have a broad, weak tropical storm and a tight, compact major hurricane, the major hurricane will wind down faster over land, but it will take longer for the major hurricane to get below the tropical storm threshold. Therefore, the odds of the major hurricane surviving a land crossing are much greater than a weak tropical storm (assuming all other environmental factors are constant).


I can agree with that.
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has anyone seen grothar?.He was impacted by the recent tornadoes.Just checking on him.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Yeah, I wasn't completely sure if sheer was the problem. I even said someone correct me if I'm wrong. What do you think is the main problem for Barbara staying alive in GOM?


I'm not sure, it could be a combination of things. One thing that is glaring to me is that the GFS is way to weak with Barbara at initialization. The fact that Barb is a much stronger system than what the GFS is showing could be one reason why the GFS ends up being wrong. Barbara may end up finding unfavorable wind shear on the other side eventually, but I don't see that being the issue initially.

Here is what the GFS says Barb should be about now.

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High tornado threat across FL as well as this system nears the state. Look at the Euro!

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nhc first forecast is looking good so far. i thought she:d stall and move wnw eventually throw that forecast into the trash
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WOW look at all that coming!!!! tonight!
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Quoting MississippiWx:
I'm not seeing anything that says shear will be the main problem for Barbara surviving the passage over into the Gulf. Here is the GFS forecast for shear in the next 24 hours. Looks like at the most 10-15kts over Barb. If it can keep its circulation intact and restrengthen convection over the BOC, the ULAC might be able to tag along with it instead of getting hung up off the Mexican Pacific coastline.



MsWx, you may well be right. You're definitely right about the topography, Baha is smack on about speed, and Tom is right on with the mass and inertia factors. I don't like shear maps, never have, but I stick with the one I've used most often and that's the one from CIMSS. And, it, and climatology (not a big fan of that either), tells me that if Barb does make the crossing, she'll have a tough time generating any strengthening. If she gets out in the BoC, remains somewhat stationary for a bit until she can get her sea legs back under her, and shear relaxes, she could accidentally raise a ruckus for a bit. I'm not looking for it though.

I'd probably be more concerned with a cutoff low from the mess in sFL, and something baroclinic developing out of that, dumping rain, and moving across the state and up parts of the east coast.
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Quoting mikatnight:


Helloooo ball!

You gotta admit, the setup is intriguing. Forecasts of possible hyper-season, sat's on the fritz, austerity measures (Austerity Now! Oh, what? Now, wait a minute, hmmmm), no US major since 2005 (shatters old record), and everyone on the coast from North Carolina to Texas in the LONG OVERDUE list...
And best of all, OBama gets blamed for whatever bad things happen....

On that egregiously political note, I will take myself off. [IOW, the rain has let up a bit and I am making tracks while I still can.]

Later all! No bickering while I am gone, please; I don't want to miss all the fun... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
Quoting wunderkidcayman:

looking at it Barbara may pass the Chivela pass to it's E to near Arriaga and Tonala hopefully I spelled it corectly so got a bit of mountain terrain to go through plus shear


The path, terrain and conditions with this storm definitely make for an interesting conversation. Not to mention the fact that the storm is passing over one of the most narrow parts of the Americas before ending up over the water again. Seems to me like this one could end up going either way but at the very least inject quite a bit of moisture into the BOC. These low end hurricanes high end tropical storms are notorious for being major rain makers nonetheless so I really feel for the people in its path. All and all Barbara sure organized quickly. If this is any indication of the season thus far than we all better grab a few two liters of Fresca, Shiner, or whatever everyone drinks around here because it's going to be a long season.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
LOL. It is not heading towards the Gulf of Honduras. If it is moving NE there is no way it would make it into the GOH. It would end up in the eastern BOC instead of the central part.

by the time it end up on the other side whether it GOH or BOC it would be wrecked badly from landfall plus mountains thats all I have to say now I sit back and watch
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12151
Quoting barbamz:


Lol, nice find! Thanks!


It's from one of my favorite episodes (the one where a hurricane destroys Flander's house and he goes nuts).

Barbara just reminded me of it.
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Baha how are you handling this weather??
Member Since: July 18, 2010 Posts: 50 Comments: 1900
Quoting WDEmobmet:


most def is still intensifing


This storm reminds me much of Ernesto right before landfall. Hope people are prepared. That storm is stronger than 65 knots.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Wikipedia said Chivela Pass is at 735 feet elevation. I'm assuming the surrounding mountains is about 1000 to 2000 feet high.

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Quoting BahaHurican:
Like I said before, I'm getting the sneaky suspicion Barb has friends on the Gulf coast...


Looking like a FL Panhandle landfall with all the rain possibly well east of the center as Barb would encounter some shear as she nears the Panama City area. Debby part 2!

Euro 240hrs

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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.