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95L No Big Deal; 100 Feared Dead, 300 Missing in Sri Lanka Landslide

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:05 PM GMT on October 29, 2014

An area of disturbed weather (95L) associated with a tropical wave interacting with an upper level trough of low pressure is a few hundred miles northeast of the northern Lesser Antilles Islands, and is headed northwestward to west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph. Satellite loops show that 95L has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorm activity, but high wind shear of 25 - 30 knots is keeping the thunderstorms disorganized. Water vapor satellite images show that 95L has dry air to its west that is likely interfering with development. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are warm, about 29°C. The 8 am EDT Wednesday run of the SHIPS model predicted that wind shear would remain a high 20 - 30 knots through Friday, then increase to 30 - 50 knots Saturday and Sunday. These high wind shear values make development conditions marginal through Friday, then almost impossible beginning on Saturday. None of our three reliable models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis predict development of 95L over the next five days. In their 8 am EDT Wednesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance 2-day and 5-day development odds of 30%. The only land area at risk from 95L is Bermuda.

Figure 1. Latest satellite image of 95L.

Tropical Cyclone Nilofar in Arabian Sea steadily weakening
In the Arabian Sea between India and Africa, Cyclone Nilofar has weakened to a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds after peaking on Tuesday as the third strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian sea--a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds. With wind shear a high 30 - 40 knots and expected to increase, plus very dry air from the deserts of the Middle East to its west being driven into its core, rapid weakening and dissipation before landfall is expected.

Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Nilofar in the Arabian Sea on Wednesday afternoon, October 29, 2014. At the time, Nilofar was a weakening Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Intense hurricanes are rare in the Arabian Sea, due to the basin's small size, the interference of the summer monsoon, and the frequent presence of dry air and dust from the Arabian Peninsula. Nilofar's 130 mph sustained winds on Tuesday made it the third strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Arabian Sea, behind the 165 mph winds of Category 5 Cyclone Gonu of 2007, which devastated Oman, and the 145 mph winds of Category 4 Cyclone Phet of 2010, which also did heavy damage in Oman. Fourth place is held jointly by the 2001 India Cyclone 01A and Very Severe Cyclonic Storm ARB 01 (02A) of 1999, which were Category 3 storms with 125 mph winds.

Eastern Pacific disturbance 93E near tropical depression status
Satellite images show that a well-organized area of disturbed weather with a modest area of heavy thunderstorms in the Eastern Pacific, a few hundred miles southwest of the Mexico/Guatemala border (Invest 93E), is close to tropical depression status. Our top three models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis all develop the system, and in their 8 am EDT Wednesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance 2-day and 5-day odds of development near 100%. The storm's heaviest rains will remain well offshore from Mexico over the next four days, but our two top models for predicting hurricane tracks--the GFS and European models--forecast that 93E will get pulled to the northeast by a trough of low pressure early next week, and make landfall in Mainland Mexico northwest of Puerto Vallarta on Tuesday.

Figure 3. Sri Lankan residents stand near a damaged building at the site of a landslide caused by heavy monsoon rains in Koslanda village in central Sri Lanka on October 29, 2014. Photo credit: Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images.

One hundred feared dead after Sri Lanka monsoon rains trigger landslide
Torrential monsoon rains in Sri Lanka over the past two weeks triggered a deadly mudslide that hit the Meeriyabedda tea plantation near the town of Haldummulla, about 200 km (120 miles) east of the capital Colombo, in Sri Lanka Wednesday at 07:30 local time (02:30 GMT). According to Reuters, approximately 100 people are feared dead and 300 are missing, which would make the landslide one of the deadliest weather-related disasters of 2014. Some of the houses in the landslide were buried in 30 ft (9m) of mud.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.