Mexico's Katrina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:22 PM GMT on November 06, 2007

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While Hurricane Noel's deadly rampage through the Caribbean was making headlines last week, Mexico experienced one of the worst flooding disasters in its history. Rescue crews are still at work plucking thousands of stranded residents off of rooftops in the state of Tabasco. Over 80% of Tabasco was underwater, and flood waters reached up to residents' rooftops in the capital city of Villahermosa. Up to 900,000 people are homeless in the disaster, which Mexicans are calling their Hurricane Katrina. The number of people dead or missing now stands at 26, due to a new mudslide yesterday that overwhelmed a small village near Villahermosa.

The floods were spawned by heavy rains that fell from a cold front that stalled over the Gulf of Mexico between October 28 and November 1. Satellite estimates of the rainfall show that no more than 7 inches of rain fell over the region during the period, which seems like too little rain to cause the massive flooding observed. It is possible these satellite estimates are flawed. The official rain gauge in Villahermosa reported 2, 81, 7, 0, and 2 inches of rain during the days October 28-November 1, respectively. Presumably, the 81 inches of rain reported October 29 is due to floodwaters inundating the rain gauge. Villahermosa averages 13 inches of rain in a typical October. No new rains have fallen since November 1, and the flood waters are gradually receding.


Figure 1. Thick clouds cover Mexico's Tobasco state on October 29, 2007, due a cold front that stalled over the region. The area received up to 7 inches of rain over a 5-day period. Image credit: NASA.

Disturbance 92L in far eastern Atlantic not a threat
A non-tropical "cut-off" low pressure system near 31N 37W, a few hundred miles southwest of the Azores Islands, is showing signs of becoming more tropical. This system was designated "92L" by NHC this morning. Phase space diagrams from Bob Hart at Florida State University show that 92L started off as a classic extratropical storm that was asymmetrical with a cold core, but the storm has gotten more symmetrical and the core has warmed. Satellite loops show only limited thunderstorm activity near the center of circulation at present, though. Sea Surface Temperatures are about 24° C under 92L, and are considerably cooler than the 26.5° usually needed to get a tropical cyclone going. Wind shear is 30-40 knots, and is expected to stay above 30 knots for the next two days. These factors should keep the storm from developing. The system is expected to turn northeast and move through the Azores Islands Friday or Saturday.

Jeff Masters

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51. Floodman
10:48 AM CST on November 06, 2007
48. franck 10:44 AM CST on November 06, 2007
ncwindsrfr...certainly Katrina was a nightmare, but this area of Mexico is a poor, agrarian country. The hardships the survivors are facing there will be considerable.
On the other hand, I shared a breakfast table with displaced Katrina surviors in a $100/night hotel room, paid for by the government.



Exactly! There is nothing for these folks to fall back on...unlike the Katrina displaced, who had a hard time of it, no doubt, but there's this feeling of entitlement amongst them
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50. LakeShadow
4:48 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
The models at the end of last week, before Noel had actually transitioned, were calling for a storm off the east coast for the end of this week...I think the staionary is just a timing issue...where's Bone when we need him?
yeah, you know??!?!?!
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49. Floodman
10:43 AM CST on November 06, 2007
45. Ivansrvivr 10:36 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Hey flood, don't mess with the scantily dressed girls in Riviera....theyr'e either undercovers or gonna give you some genital thundersnow!!!!!

I saw thundersnow in the 93' superstorm. The neat part was I was driving From Nashville to S.FL thru Birmingham. I got to see the cold and warm sectors. I rank it up there with Ivan as far as intensity.



Saw a good deal of it in the early 80s, then again in the mid 90s...best one I remember was 1-30-80; it was 45 all day and drizzling in STL...got done with sound checks about 6 in the evening and someone walked into the hall covered in white stuff...turns out it was snow...snowed 18 inches in three and a half hours, and another 12 over night...we were heading home after the gig and they closed the highway behind us every 10 miles or so
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48. franck
4:38 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
ncwindsrfr...certainly Katrina was a nightmare, but this area of Mexico is a poor, agrarian country. The hardships the survivors are facing there will be considerable.
On the other hand, I shared a breakfast table with displaced Katrina surviors in a $100/night hotel room, paid for by the government.
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47. Floodman
10:41 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Good morning, Amy...how are you this morning?
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46. Ivansrvivr
4:37 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Flood, don't feel bad. My ignore list is FULL. Only took one day. I'm wishcasting a life for all those trolls.
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45. Ivansrvivr
4:33 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Hey flood, don't mess with the scantily dressed girls in Riviera....theyr'e either undercovers or gonna give you some genital thundersnow!!!!!

I saw thundersnow in the 93' superstorm. The neat part was I was driving From Nashville to S.FL thru Birmingham. I got to see the cold and warm sectors. I rank it up there with Ivan as far as intensity.
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44. Floodman
10:31 AM CST on November 06, 2007
40. LakeShadow 10:28 AM CST on November 06, 2007
How could they have predicted the stationary boundary? otherwise the low would have progressed more easterly, right?



The models at the end of last week, before Noel had actually transitioned, were calling for a storm off the east coast for the end of this week...I think the staionary is just a timing issue...where's Bone when we need him?
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43. Floodman
10:27 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Flood, resist, just resist! The temptation to reply is there I know, however, the trolls are only trying to get a rise from you like an old fashioned school tease.

My ignore list is getting ever longer. I really thought we had cracked the troll problem with the new blog but it is back, bold as brass.....sigh.


As much as I hate to say it, my "ignore" list is becoming rather extensive...to be perfectly honest, I hate to use it...I'm always afraid that I might miss a comment by someone that might be insightful and help me learn more...

My biggest problem is with those that are obviously intelligent, have a great deal to say, but can't help but make personal atacks on others in here...I will do better (or at least try to), but the stress level at times is very great...you remember the definition of stress, don;t you?
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42. LakeShadow
4:29 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
34. Floodman 4:06 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Wow, Lake...I'll trade you places...I like the wintry stuff...

its better than earthquakes, hurricanes floods or tornadoes!
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40. LakeShadow
4:26 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
How could they have predicted the stationary boundary? otherwise the low would have progressed more easterly, right?
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39. Floodman
10:25 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Lake, I think you've just confirmed the models calling for a storm late this week...
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38. LakeShadow
4:16 PM GMT on November 06, 2007


based on these two images, it looks like that stationary boundary might force this low southeast and out to sea around Maryland's coast. could this follow the JS up the east coast and turn into a nor'easter?
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36. Muffelchen
4:07 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
33. Floodman 4:04 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Yep, sport...and there's no way of forecasting them either...there's normally no indication of any troughs or weaknesses, they just pop up

Flood, resist, just resist! The temptation to reply is there I know, however, the trolls are only trying to get a rise from you like an old fashioned school tease.

My ignore list is getting ever longer. I really thought we had cracked the troll problem with the new blog but it is back, bold as brass.....sigh.

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35. guygee
4:12 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Some information on Tobasco and the flooding: Apparently the flooding in Tobasco is exacerbated by the terrain, where the highlands and mountains in neighboring Chiapas lead abruptly down to the large delta that makes up Tobasco, containing the outlet for the two largest (most voluminous) rivers in Mexico.

THE TABASCO LOWLANDS OF SOUTHEASTERN MEXICO(abstract)
Map of Tabasco (state), Mexico
Map of Tobasco State (16 zoomable tiles)
Map of Chiapas State(16 zoomable tiles)

Another news article.
Devastating floods prompt outbreak fears in Mexico (CNN)

BBL.
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34. Floodman
10:05 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Wow, Lake...I'll trade you places...I like the wintry stuff...
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33. Floodman
10:01 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Yep, sport...and there's no way of forecasting them either...there's normally no indication of any troughs or weaknesses, they just pop up
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30. LakeShadow
3:58 PM GMT on November 06, 2007


man, I am in a bad spot for this.
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29. Floodman
9:54 AM CST on November 06, 2007
23. MisterPerfect 9:52 AM CST on November 06, 2007
I understand that JP. Also, people don't prepare ahead of time during a freak deluge opposed to a closely monitored monster hurricane approaching. I guess there are too many intangibles that invalidate my questions to begin with. Thanks for responding JP.



MP, there was nothing invalid about your question at all
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23. MisterPerfect
3:48 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
I understand that JP. Also, people don't prepare ahead of time during a freak deluge opposed to a closely monitored monster hurricane approaching. I guess there are too many intangibles that invalidate my questions to begin with. Thanks for responding JP.
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22. NEwxguy
3:49 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
thanks Storm,offshore interests are being kept busy these past couple of weeks.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 887 Comments: 15972
20. LakeShadow
3:48 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Link
heres my radar. I'm right in the path, where the crosshares are.
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16. Floodman
9:47 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Thundersnow...I've been in a fair bit of that...
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15. LakeShadow
3:42 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
hey folks...did y'all get my inquiry about the snow/hail that's falling from this clipper that's dragging its a**? At one point there was sun-sleet. now its all dark and a mix of rain and hail...pressure is 29.65 and falling. hope thats the low approaching. how long will it remain stationary?
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14. NEwxguy
3:45 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
8. FLSWEDE 3:38 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Thank you Dr, we are just a bunch off kiss a** sucker here, No life or real jobs just spend our whole day being Useless...

speaking of no life or job *ignore*
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 887 Comments: 15972
13. NEwxguy
3:42 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
680. LakeShadow 3:25 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
morgen freunds!
I got some freaky weather happening right now...sun-sleeting.
the low that was supposed to pass through got stuck behind a stationary front and this nice clipper is dragging things on a bit. Anyone with ideas of when that stationary front will break up? from the looks of it I'm getting SW/WSW winds all day. doesnt turn W/ NW until tomorrow...

Looking at all the advisories up for western new york,looks like your in for some interesting weather,snow,possible hail,and maybe some thunder,until around wednesday morning
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 887 Comments: 15972
11. MisterPerfect
3:41 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Can someone tell me why a cold front can displace more people than a category 5 hurricane? What does that say about Mexico's infrastructure?
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10. Floodman
9:36 AM CST on November 06, 2007
ncw, I don't think it was a reference to anything other than the 80% flooding rate...nearly 8000 sq miles under water...
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7. NEwxguy
3:33 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
thanx,Dr.M
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 887 Comments: 15972
6. ncwindsrfr
3:34 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
I think that calling this "Mexico's Katrina" is a little extreme. The homelessness is a problem, but let's not forget that over 1000 people died in New Orleans. At last count the Mexican death count was only 26. I'm not saying that 26 isn't significant, but at the same time it's not 1000.

Let's not blow things out of proportion...
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5. Miamiweather
3:30 PM GMT on November 06, 2007
Thank you doctor i less day to worry about the tropics
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4. SamTeam
9:33 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Thanks, Dr. M...
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3. Floodman
9:30 AM CST on November 06, 2007
Thanks, Dr. M...
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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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