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Act I, Scene I, Tropical Depression One of the Hurricane Season of 2010

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 12:57 AM GMT on June 26, 2010

Act I, Scene I, Tropical Depression One of the 2010 hurricane is at hand. The storm is already bringing heavy rains to northern Honduras, where 3.78" fell at Puerto Lempira, on the coast near the Nicaragua border. Recent satellite images show continued development of TD 1's heavy thunderstorm activity, and this depression appears to be a lock to intensify into Tropical Storm Alex by Saturday morning. I'll save a more detailed analysis for Saturday morning, and merely post some historical data on how similar storms have behaved over the past twenty years.

History of storms similar to TD 1
Dr. Jonathan Vigh of the National Center for Atmospheric Research has put together a brief synopsis of tropical cyclones (1989-2008) which formed near NW Honduras or east of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula or developed while over the Yucatan, or storms which were already formed but later hit the Yucatan Peninsula. Storms which formed late in the season and recurved into Cuba were not examined. Out of the 19 storms which hit the Yucatan, 8 went on to make a second Gulf Coast landfall in Mexico, 5 hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, and 6 died after hitting the Yucatan. A few storms formed while over the Yucatan and went in various directions. He makes a few notes about how passage over the Yucatan changed the radius of maximum winds (RMW) of the storms.

Storms that hit the Yucatan, then hit Mexico on the west side of the Gulf of Mexico:
Diana 1990: Developed E of Nicaragua, hit Yucatan as tropical Storm (TS), hit near Tampico as a hurricane. Normal decrease in RMW during intensification to hurricane: RMW droped from ~40 n mi to 15 n mi.

Gert 1993: Traveled as TD over Nicaragua, became a TS and then hit Belize, hit near Tampico as a hurricane. RMW 30-35 n mi during intensification.

Roxanne 1995: Formed east of Nicauragua, hit near Cozumel as hurricane, did some loops and then died in Bay of Campeche. RMW dropped from 30 n mi to 10 n mi before first Yucatan hit, then became very large for a day or two, then contracted down to 3 n mi, then became large again (>50 n mi), then contracted once more before storm died. Was doing several loops in Bay of Compeche during this time.

Dolly 1996: Formed west of Jamaica, hit south of Cozumel as hurricane, then hit MX as a hurricane. RMW increased from 7 to 40 n mi before Yucatan landfall, then afterwards decreased to 13 n mi as the storm intensified before 2nd landfall.

Keith 2000: Developed off NE Honduras, hit Belize as major hurricane, weakened to TD, then redeveloped and hit MX coast as hurricane. RMW decreased to 9 n mi before the rapid intensification, then increased to about 25 nm mi before landfall. Increased to 30 n mi by second landfall.

Emily 2005: Hit Yucatan as major hurricane, hit S of Brownsville as a hurricane. RMW increased from ~10 n mi before landfall, to about 30 n mi after Yucatan crossing, then decreased back down to 10-15 n mi by second landfall.

Stan 2005: Formed just SE of Cozumel, hit near there as TS, weakend to TD then shifted S and hit Bay of Campeche coast as hurricane, caused massive flooding. After Yucatan crossing, RMW decreased from ~40 n mi to about 5 n mi before 2nd landfall - normal progression.

Dean 2007: through Caribbean as hurricane, hit just N of Belize as major hurricane, hit near Tampico as hurricane. RMW was about 13 n mi before Yucatan landfall, then >40 n mi after before shrinking to 28 n mi by 2nd landfall.

Storms that hit the Yucatan, then hit the U.S. Gulf Coast:
Isidore 2002: Hurricane south of Cuba, hit W tip of Cuba then deflected into N Yucatan, inner core wiped out, then hit LA as a gigantic TS. RMW ~7 n mi before
Yucatan landfall, then off the scale afterward.

Bill 2003: Formed after traveling over Yucatan, hit LA as TS. Large RMW dropped to 12 n mi by LA landfall.

Claudette 2003: TS south of Hispianola, grazed tip of Yucatan as TS, hit near Corpos Christi as hurricane. RMW increased to >40 n mi BEFORE Yucatan landfall, then dropped to 20 - 35 n mi range afterward.

Cindy 2005: Hit Yucatan as TD, became TS day later, hit LA as hurricane. Little data, but RMW was 15-30 n mi by landfall.

Wilma 2005: Spent about a day over Yucatan, weakened and became very large, but RMW was little changed: 30-35 n mi before and after (eventually with much larger outer RMW).

Storms which died after hitting the Yucatan:
TD 8 1994 Formed near NE Honduras coast, hit Belize, died

Kyle 1996 Hit Belize as TS, died.

Katrina 1999 Developed E of Nicaurgua, hit as TS, hit Belize as TD, died

Chantal 2001 TS across Caribbean, hit Yucatan, deflected southward and died.

Iris 2001 Hurricane across Caribbean, hit Belize and died.

Arthur 2008 Formed just before hitting Belize as TS, died.

Storms that developed over the Yucatan:
Opal 1995: Developed over Yucatan, underwent rapid intensification, got a tight inner core, then weakened and hit FL as major hurricane of normal size. RMW was actually very small (5 n mi) a day after coming off the Yucatan, but increased to be quite large (25-35 n mi) before the rapid intensification period commenced and brought it back down to 7 n mi. RMW increased rapidly to >40 n mi right before landfall.

Gordon 2000: Developed over Yucatan, became hurricane then hit FL as TS north of Tampa. RMW increased from 5 n mi before Yucatan landfall, to 40 n mi afterward, then decreased back to 3 n mi during the subsequent intensification. Made landfall with RMW of 35 n mi.

Larry 2003: Formed after crossing top of Yucatan, hit south shore of Bay of Campeche as TS, died.

Gert 2005: Formed in Bay of Campeche after traveling over Honduras and Yucatan, hit MX as TS.

Jeff Masters


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