Emily whips into Windward Islands
|By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 12:30 PM GMT on July 14, 2005||+0|
Posted: 8:00pm EDT Wednesday July 13 2005
Emily is not struggling anymore, and is finally beginning to resemble a hurricane. The storm is more symmetric now, although smaller in areal extent than before. There is much more deep convection surrounding the center, and the pressure measured by the 8pm EDT Hurricane Hunter flight was 1000mb, down from 1003 mb earlier this afternoon. Emily is likely to be a hurricane tomorrow.
Winds have peaked in Barbados, reaching a sustained 43 mph at 2pm EDT, and were still blowing 35 mph last hour. Winds in Tobago, which will receive the heaviest blow from Emily, were 23 mph at 4pm EDT, and will continue to rise as Emily passes just north of the island. Emily will pass 50 or so miles south of Grenada early tomorrow morning and probably rake the island with winds up to 65 mph. They will take some modest damage, but will be relieved to escape what seemed a few days ago like another hit from a serious hurricane!
Dr. Jeff Masters
Posted: 2:15pm EDT Wednesday July 13 2005
Emily is still struggling. The last Hurricane Hunters mission into the center found the central pressure had returned to 1003 mb, after rising by 2 mb, to 1005 mb. No increase in winds was found. Satellite imagery shows a large band of intense thunderstorm to the northwest beginning to break away from the center, and it appears that the areal coverage of the circulation of the storm is shrinking. The low level center is more than 2/3 exposed. However, the burst of deep convection occurring near the center and to the southeast indicates that Emily is still a vigorous tropical storm.
I believe we will see a much smaller system emerge into Caribbean tomorrow. This is probably due in part to interaction with the South American land mass, the bane of tropical storms entering this part of the ocean.
What will happen next? I give four possibilities:
1) Emily will continue to struggle, pass too close to South America, and die in the Southeast Caribbean, like over 50% of all tropical storms do. (10% chance)
2) Emily will shake off it troubles and become a large Category 1 hurricane by tomorrow. (10% chance).
3) Emily will stay a tropical storm, and eventually make landfall in Central America as a tropical storm (5% chance).
4) Emily will become reorganize today into a small but intensifying storm, and become a hurricane one to three days from now (70% chance).
If Emily becomes a small hurricane, it is likely to follow a more southern course than if it turns in a big hurricane.
Posted: 9am EDT Wednesday July 11 2005
The main outer spiral band of Emily is now passing through Barbados, bringing heavy rain and tropical storm force winds to the island. However, the main force of the storm will be felt further south later today, as Emily passes near Tobago and Grenada.
The first Hurricane Hunter aircraft made it to the center at 8am, and found Emily still in its organizing stages. The central pressure was 1003mb, and the strongest surface winds observed were about 50-55 mph in the northwest quadrant. NHC was estimating peak winds of 60 mph, and the Hurricane Hunters may still find that when they sample the stronger south side of the storm.
The satellite appearance of the storm has a ragged, assymetrical appearance. There is not much thunderstorm activity on the northeast side, possibly signifying that the storm is trying to overcome some dry air in that region. It is likely that it will take Emily at least 12 hours to get its act together and become a hurricane--if it strengthens at all today. In yesterday's blog, I explained that Emily is approaching the SE Caribbean, which is notoriously hostile towards developing tropical storms. I wouldn't be surprised if it took another 36 hours before Emily makes it to hurricane strength.
Emily's lack of organization is good news for the southern Windward Islands, which were hard-hit by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Hurricanes are uncommon here; only two hurricanes have crossed through the Windward Islands south of Barbados (13 North Latitude) in the past 50 years. Both hurricanes were notorious villains. One was Ivan. The other was Hurricane Janet (1955), a Category 5 monster, killed over 600 people in Mexico, Belize, and the Caribbean islands. Janet was the only Atlantic hurricane to ever claim a Hurricane Hunter aircraft.
Most of the Windward Islands in Ivan's path suffered modest damage. In Barbados, Hurricane Ivan killed one person, destroyed more than 176 homes, and damaged at least 200 more. Most coastal roads were severely damaged due to erosion caused by the storm surge and wave action. Barbados suffered an island-wide power outage. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ivan damaged 50 homes and washed 2 homes into the seas. More than two-thirds of residents lost power. Tobago suffered 45 buildings damaged, and one death. The tourist industries on all of these islands has fully recovered.
The tiny island nation of Grenada suffered the cruelest blow of any country in the 2004 hurricane season. Ivan's center passed 7 miles south-southwest of the island as a strong Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds. The eyewall winds raked the southern portion of the island, killing 39 of the 90,000 residents, and damaging or destroying 14,000 homes--90% of all the buildings on the island. Grenada suffered about $3 billion in damage--over twice their GDP, perhaps setting a modern record for the greatest natural disaster damage suffered by a nation relative to GDP. For comparison, the damage done to Honduras by Hurricane Mitch in 1999 was about 60% of their GDP, and Sri Lanka suffered a loss of about 8% of their GDP due to the 2004 tsunami.
The economy of Grenada will take many years to recover. International aid has totaled as respectable $150 million, but is far short of what is needed. Tourism and agriculture, the two main businesses on the island, were both severely impacted. The country was the world's second-largest producer of nutmeg, after Indonesia. About 70% of this crop was wiped out by Ivan, and will take 7 to 10 years to regrow. Many hotels and restaurants are still under reconstruction, and the island is accomodating far fewer tourists than before the hurricane. Fortunately, a new cruise ship terminal built shortly before the hurricane was not damaged, so the island has been able to attract cruise ships. The island is one year into a planned three-year, $1.2 billion reconstruction program, and it will be at least two years before the Grenada tourist business returns to it pre-Ivan levels. The reconstruction is being done with far superior building codes to prevent a future hurricane from causing such devastation. One assessment found that the simple addition of $75 hurricane straps to anchor roofs would have vastly reduced the number of buildings that were affected. Most of the buildings damaged or destroyed occurred because the roofs peeled off from the building.
I'll close this blog with a poem written by Dr. Joseph Edmunds, former Ambassador from St. Lucia to the United States:
AN ODE TO GRENADA AFTER IVAN
Ivan's invisible unpredictable evil dance,
Satanic uncontrollable whim unroofing
Stable minds, innocent abodes, all.
Uprooting flora, and fauna, national foundations,
Toils of years of sweat, pain, and national pride.
Helpless we were to your hammering winds.
No holy church of sacred godliness spared
No school of future wisdom could withstand
Deliberate slaughtering demolition of a nation,
No imagined reason for targeted disaster.
But Ivan cannot be greater than our people
Resolved to build again from flattened images.
Our vulnerability exposed by unpardonable acts.
No Ivan can destroy our collective resolute, our will
To rise again to new horizons beyond the present.
Ivan, Grenada is greater than your passing!
New roots to reconstruct, new rooftops to rise,
Foundations stronger than before, our people
Will rebuild with human spirit rejecting your return.
The Isle of Spice more spicy it will be.
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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.
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