Alma nears hurricane strength, takes aim at Nicaragua; major tornado outbreak today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:03 PM GMT on May 29, 2008

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Tropical Storm Alma, in the Eastern Pacific off the coast of Nicaragua, is steadily intensifying, and appears likely to develop into a hurricane later today. The latest QUikSCAT pass from 8:03am EDT showed winds of 50 knots (58 mph) near the center, and a recent microwave image (Figure 1) showed the formation of an eye. Alma is generating very heavy rains in excess of six inches per day near its center. So far, satellite estimates of rainfall (Figure 2) indicate that 3-6 inches of rain has fallen over portions of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and rainfall will continue to increase in these nations through Saturday. All of Central America, except for Panama, is at risk of flash flooding that will create dangerous mud slides over the next three days, and Alma has the potential to be a major disaster for Central America. Nicaragua, in particular, is at high risk of experiencing flash flooding and mud slides capable of causing heavy loss of life, due to its high mountainous terrain that will receive up to 20 inches of rain. However, the mountainous regions along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are also at high risk of destructive flooding and mud slides.

Figure 1. Microwave image (colored, left side) and visible satellite image (gray colors, right side) of Tropical Storm Alma taken at 10:14am EDT Thursday May 29, 2008. An eye is visible in the color microwave image, surrounded by intense echoes (red colors) of an eyewall on the west side of the eye. Microwave instruments carried on polar-orbiting satellites can only "see" a swatch of Earth's surface a few hundred kilometers in diameter, and the edge of this swath happened to fall very near the eye of Alma at this time. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Since Alma now dominates the circulation pattern of the region, none of the computer models are predicting that a tropical depression will form in the Western Caribbean in the coming week. It is possible that Alma could cross Central America and pop out in the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche. However, the crossing of Central America will severely disrupt the storm, and the odds of Alma becoming a depression in the Atlantic basin are very low. I am not expecting moisture from the storm to reach the U.S. Satellite loops show that Alma has developed a large circulation that extends into the Western Caribbean, and rains from Alma will affect Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and western Cuba through Saturday. These areas can expect heavy downpours with rainfall totals of 3-6 inches through Saturday. Rainfall may be heavier, perhaps 5-10 inches, in Belize and along the north coast of Honduras.

Figure 2. Observed precipitation for the 24 hours ending at 12Z (8am EDT) Thursday May 29, 2008. Rainfall amounts in excess of 150mm (six inches, green colors) occurred near the coast of Costa Rica. Image credit: U.S. Navy Monterey.

Major severe weather outbreak today in the Plains
The Storm Prediction Center is calling for a "High" risk of severe weather across Iowa and Nebraska this afternoon--the highest level of severe weather alert. Expect another significant tornado outbreak today in the Plains. The Weather Underground Severe Weather page and Tornado page are good places to go to follow the severe weather. Also, tune in to the chase accounts and awesome storm photos from Wunderblogger Mike Theiss. Mike is in Tornado Alley this week, performing his annual chase efforts.

I'll have an update Friday morning, or tonight if there's major tornado action to talk about.

Jeff Masters

Tornado, KS (FHRweather)
Photo by Jack Mowers
Tornado, KS

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992. XoendHoroeken
5:42 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
The ASCAT pass indicates some low-level wibd shifts associated with the Caribbean blob.
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991. kingy
8:49 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
h'mmm I'm not sure if there will be anything left of Alma within 24 hours. But no matter, there has been a huge increase in Caribbean moisture levels and now there is the possibility of something kicking off in the Caribbean. The only problem is that there is no apparent circulation, just a lot of storms. I would appreciate the views of some of our more experienced forecasters, specifically if Alma has laid the foundations for a caribbean depression to form in the coming 3-4 days.
990. Caffinehog
8:42 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
It would be kind of nice for those in the southeast if the storm made the jump and delivered some moisture. Then again, that's just wishcasting.
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989. moonlightcowboy
2:16 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
...what? Rain?

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988. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:05 AM GMT on May 30, 2008

At 6:00am UTC, Typhoon Nakri (T0805) [940 hPa] located near 17.0N 134.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 90 knots with gusts up to 130 knots. The storm is reported as moving west-northwest at 7 knots.

Storm-Force Winds
60 NM from the center

Gale-Force Winds
180 NM southeast from the center
120 NM northwest from the center

Forecast and Intensity
24 HRS: 19.0N 133.6E - 90 knots (CAT 4)
48 HRS: 21.8N 134.5E - 90 knots (CAT 4)
72 HRS: 25.1N 136.8E - 75 knots (CAT 3)

Weakened back down to JMA Category Four status (85-105 knots).
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987. Fshhead
6:37 AM GMT on May 30, 2008

Jumping storm? Am I missing something here?? The low is going over land?
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986. moonlightcowboy
1:31 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
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985. moonlightcowboy
1:29 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
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984. moonlightcowboy
1:25 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
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983. moonlightcowboy
1:07 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
RAMSDIS THERMAL IR loop of Caribbean convection
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982. moonlightcowboy
12:54 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
968. KEEPEROFTHEGATE 11:57 PM CDT on May 29, 2008
it appears to be a td like appearance this may become an invest soon if it takes off
i am pegging it
at track mark 15.2n/83.5w invest atl basin

Hey, Keeper! What's going on?
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981. emguy
5:48 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Lovin' the post moonlight! :-)
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980. emguy
5:36 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Keeper is correct...The NHC is the authority that makes the call. Nobody else. However, some hobbiests are getting the hang of things and it's not wrong to saye Keeper's pinpoint looks pretty good right now. If the thunderstorms and energy transferral continue. Nice spotting! :-) The tropical weather remains "fluid" for now.
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979. moonlightcowboy
12:37 AM CDT on May 30, 2008

...ok, podners! What's this about a jumpin' storm?
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978. 7544
5:29 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
could this be what we are seeing no now the blob in the carb .Link
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977. flibinite
5:29 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Sigh, and Scott wonders, or not, why I have to click the "Show" button on my display to see his, and stormyeyes', posts, as opposed to everyone else's, which seem to appear just fine.

Oh well, I had my say, too. We'll just have to see what happens from here, as to whether this is the (not-so-little) blob that could, or not. :-)

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976. scottsvb
5:22 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
np emguy... your a ok guy.. no offense I was talking about a couple others
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975. scottsvb
5:20 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Wishcasters galore in here right now... ok Im out!
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974. emguy
5:13 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Scott...another apology from me. I thought you were talking about my response to that storm guy...I think I'm getting tired and definately tired of that mess...However, he's most admittadly frustrating this board.

I will admit though...I appreciate the interest that CCHS has in the weather. Let him learn and grow here. As an adult I make mistakes, as a younger guy, I expect no different. It's just how we learn.
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1:16 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
if its anything we will no from nhc not some i no everything and you know nuttin kinda guy on a weatherblog
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972. scottsvb
5:11 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
lol I didnt say that to you emguy..I was teasing the other guy.

I know you want that thunderstorm complex to be a seperate entity..but its not...its just a plain convergence of winds...forcing the air upward and causing massive thunderstorm complex... it will die off later on friday while newer areas develop in the bay of honduras and NW caribean as the TD(by then) alma makes it way near Belieze and the coast.

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971. emguy
4:57 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
I need to add a correction here...I meant "entering the Caribbean" not "entering the Pacific".

Scott, you are right, as this was a convergence zone for Alma. However, this zone is kinda taking over now as Alma is fading away. Do you see what I mean through the loops? In these instances, these convergance zones have a way of becoming the boss. I gues these things get lost in translation through text, as I'm already looking at this thunderstorm complex as a take charge type of entity. For now, we have twin lows with and elongated trough in between (Alma and the complex entering the Caribbean).

As for being a mommy, I don't wish to be a target either, but this Stom(cluster) on the blog claims to have been here to learn about weather and talks about Katrina (etc), yet is spending all his/her time picking on everyone else. Who ever you are, just have fun and participate in the weather related discussion. Cut it out!
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970. scottsvb
5:02 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
omg........I have nothing personal against the kid, just he dont state facts..they are mostly wrong conclusions..and how do I know this? cause I have a degree in the meteorology field!
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969. flibinite
5:01 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
No apology necessary, Scott, it's just my opinion differs from yours. I take it, then, that you cannot, or will not, guarantee he was wrong? No problem if you don't, as it's all pretty much semi-educated guesswork and opinion right now, but I saw no reason to caste aspersions on what CCHS said, or his "reporting style", as opposed to offering a different opinion of his observed facts, valid or not.

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12:49 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
it appears to be a td like appearance this may become an invest soon if it takes off
i am pegging it
at track mark 15.2n/83.5w invest atl basin
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967. stormyeyes
4:49 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
964....this is not garbage, i have asked questions and have been attacked by some of
these people in here. there have only been a certain few that have been nice(stormw,hurricane23,stormkat)all day they have accused me of being a boy, that i dont even know, so i am now defending myself. this is the first time that i have been back on this site since katrina. stormtop saved alot of peoples lives here in Ms., so it is only an opinion of mine that i think he does a good job.
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966. scottsvb
4:53 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
didnt know you were his mom.. sorry!
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965. scottsvb
4:34 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
you can disagree emguy...but what I said is what is occuring..
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964. emguy
4:39 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Stormeyes or whoever you are, if you are interested in the tropics, cut this garbage out cause you are missing out on something that may be truely interesting.

Look at this loop again, the energy of Alma is now transferring to the intense thunderstorms entering the Pacific. Notice the winds are no longer wrapping around Alma from the SW side. They are pure SW winds headed for the t-storms entering the Caribbean. This is noted south of a line from 13N, 87.5W to 15.5N, 84.5W. The tropical evolution remains fluid and is worth monitoring.
Repeating link for your convenience
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963. flibinite
4:40 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
I disagree, Scott, as I read every post in here, every day (god help me), and to my mind CCHS has made the greatest strides of any of you in trying to expand his knowledge and show more restraint in overstating things, or bringing them to a head too quickly. He used to, like many of you/us, but not so much any more. He had a legitimate opinion as to windflow forces, and went out on a limb and mentioned it. He may be wrong, at least in terms of Alma, which seems to be rapidly dying, but might very well be correct about what could become the new, and main, area of moisture and convection, depending on the synoptic patterns over the next 48 hours.

I'm just sorry that so many posters here define "hype" or "wish" as someone having any opinion, learned or otherwise, that includes the thought that some portion of disturbed weather is going to hit the US. Can you say categorically right now that it won't?

I'm not challenging you, per se, but if you can't guarantee that some form of this blob won't hit the US, then you can't call it hype, either, at least IMO.

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962. stormyeyes
4:32 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
the only thing i understand from you is that
if you read my posts, i hope you got something out of them. i have asked questions only for a select few to answer...then others attack you when you think they do a good job and you commend them for what they are doing here...if i want to ask you something i will address you..until then backoff.
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961. earthlydragonfly
12:36 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
not sure how 2 do that sj. it is a massive file
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960. earthlydragonfly
12:30 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
It is horrible with low light.. It is a new camera out made by Casio... Believe it or not.. it shoots at 300 Frames per second! I have been very impressed with some of the results. The price is only about $1000 and for that it shoots 60fps at 6 megapixle, and at 512 X 420 or (something close)it shoots 300 fps. It also shoots HD video and regular video. It saves to a SD card too. It is not as good at stills like my canon but I use them both now. Editing comes at great pain though.
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12:29 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
you understand everthing i have said my friend
and the blogs are like transcripts i read everyone of your posts and its you not us
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958. StormJunkie
4:29 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
efd, shoot me that link in a wumail as well. At work and can not view the flash.
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957. emguy
4:23 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Sorry Scott, but I'm kinda gonna have to agree to disagree on this one. The thunderstorm activity you reference is clearly seperating itself from Alma and has the chance for independance. In fact, it to is within the same large circulation envelope that Alma was embedded in, so the genisis factor is there. Now, it is even starting to pull apart the spindown remanat of Alma and ripping her remnants off to the NE. This is very obvious when you see this Link
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956. StormJunkie
4:28 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
951. Have not even watched yet, but if you don't mind shoot me a wu mail with the camera you got. How does it handle low light?

I have been wanting to shoot with high speed for a long time! So jealous :~)
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12:27 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
if you want to learn it can teach you the choice is yours
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12:21 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
your nothing but mindless entertainment been laughting at you all day and o bye the way it aint us its you
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952. scottsvb
4:20 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Area near Nicaragua and Honduras is a convergence zone of winds from Alma SW and S and easterlys over the western development will take place here.
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951. earthlydragonfly
12:19 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
hey SJ I caught some lightning with my new highspeed camera

go to the bottom gallery called lightning slow mo video

hope u like it and anyone else!!!
Action: Modify Comment
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950. stormyeyes
4:16 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
944....who are you calling a child...i am a full grown woman....and i cant understand a
word you just said, so make sense when you talk to me little boy...
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949. scottsvb
4:18 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
flibinite... cchs wants soo bad for a system to come to him.. he
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948. earthlydragonfly
12:11 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
hey SJ I caught some lightning with my new highspeed camera

go to yhe bottom gallery called lightning slow mo video

hope u like it and anyone else!!!
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12:13 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
get a grip will ya
mindless entertainment
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946. 7544
4:12 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
nice post flibinite but it looks like the blob in sw carb . is stating to move nne imo as the gfs been showing all week reaching the tip of cuba on sun . and if it does form will it be aurther as it doesnt look attached to alma thanks
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945. Weather456
11:27 PM AST on May 29, 2008
A boy walks on a flooded street in Leon city, some 57 miles (90 km) west of Managua, May 29, 2008. Tropical Storm Alma, the first cyclone of the Americas hurricane season, slammed into Nicaragua's Pacific coast on Thursday, killing one person as winds toppled trees and ripped roofs off flimsy homes. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas (NICARAGUA)

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12:09 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
ya ya ya foolish litle child maybe i should but i think you cant
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943. flibinite
4:10 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Hi, again all... about a sixth-time poster with no Met experience at all, from eastern NY. But to just my amateurish eye, and taking into account what CCHS said earlier about Alma getting pulled east, not west, and Skyepony's Mimic view, and what honestly looks like spiral banding features over Cuba and Belize, it looks to me like Alma is pulling a Pennsylvania/Northeaster jump, and the strength of all that energy is starting to dump into the Western Carribean blob. And if that happens, and that "blob" gets loose over the warm water and high TCHP's(?) of the Yucatan Channel, then I think all bets are off for noon as to how strong it could get (depending on the shear there over the next two days) and just where in the Gulf it hits shore.

Just my under-educated opinion, but I thought I'd share it, anyway.

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942. MTJax
4:08 AM GMT on May 30, 2008
Many of the good group around. Good to see Skye, SJ, Drak, MikeSTL, Hades, and a few others around. Where is the old marine? He been on today?
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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