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Beta drifting; Wilma revisited

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:22 PM GMT on October 28, 2005

Beta remains a tropical storm this morning, drifting slowly north off of the coast of Nicaragua. Its rise to hurricane strength has been thwarted by a large tropical disturbance that has developed about 300 miles to the northeast. This disturbance has created a layer of easterly winds on its south side at mid and upper levels. These winds are now generating about 10 knots of wind shear on Beta's east side. The shear disrupted the small eyewall that was forming early this morning, and Beta decreased in strength for a time. Deep convection has made a bit of a comeback this morning, but Beta continues to struggle with the shear, and has a long way to go before making hurricane status. The shear over Beta is expected to increase to 15 knots by tomorrow morning, then decrease back down to the favorable 5 knots we saw yesterday. Since Beta is a very small system, this relatively high shear may keep the storm from attaining hurricane status until Saturday afternoon or evening. We'll know better this afternoon at about 4 pm EDT, when the first hurricane hunter flight is scheduled to arrive.

Beta is stuck in an area of weak steering currents, and is being slowly pulled northwards by the trough of low pressure that swept Wilma over Florida. The computer models are now more divided. The GFS, NOGAPS, and GFDL models forecast that this trough will pull northwards and strand Beta in the southwest Caribbean. A weak ridge of high pressure will then build in and force Beta westward, with a landfall expected in northeastern Nicaragua. The UKMET model, plus some of the less reliable models we usually don't mention, like the Canadian, LBAR, and NHC98 models--favor a more northerly track, with Beta entering the western Caribbean after brushing northeastern Nicaragua. As we can see from the plot of historical tracks of October tropical storms in a similar location, this is the prefered track taken by similar storms in the past, and it would not surprise me if Beta ended up taking a similar path.

Figure 1. Historical tracks of October tropical storms near Beta's location. Only one out of seven of these storms hit Nicaragua.

If Beta does make landfall in Central America, it is unlikely to make it all the way across the rugged mountains of Nicaragua and arrive intact into the Pacific. Beta is a very small storm, and probably will not be intense enough or moving fast enough to survive the crossing. Crossing the flat Florida peninsula is no problem for a hurricane, but the high mountains of Central America can block a hurricane's low level circulation from the surface to 5000 feet, seriously disrupting it. Hurricane Joan of October 1998 did successfully make the crossing, to be reborn as Hurricane Miriam in eastern Pacific. However, Joan was a large and fast-moving Category 4 hurricane.

Although a small storm, Beta will bring 10-20 inches of rain over the regions of Nicaragua and Honduras it crosses, creating serious flooding situations. However, since Beta is a small storm, these rains will be confined to a realtively small area. If Beta hits the northeast corner of Nicaragua or Honduras, the terrain there is relatively flat, and major loss of life from flash flooding and mudslides will not result. Beta is small enough that it is not expected to affect Costa Rica and Panama, and shipping through the Panama Canal should be unaffected.

I know I said this in yesterday's blog, but it bears repeating since I get asked this question all the time: There are no provisions for what to do in the event we have to retire Beta's name and replace it on the list of hurricane names. One possibility is that the storm will be dubbed Beta-2005 and the name Beta will be reused. Another possibilty is that Beta will be skipped over next time the Greek alphabet comes into use.

Elsewhere in the tropics
The large tropical disturbance in the central Caribbean that is interfering with Beta's circulation has increased in organization this morning. Wind shear is a light 5 knots over the disturbance, and some development of this system is possible today. The disturbance is very close to Tropical Storm Beta, though, and Beta may end up absorbing the disturbance.

Elsewhere, tropical storm formation is not expected.

Wilma revisited
I will continue to link to wunderphotos that members in South Florida post this weekend as power is being restored, allowing people to at last turn on their computers and upload photos. As most of the media attention has been focused on Florida for this storm, I want to go back along Wilma's path and draw attention to some of the other areas affected.

Wilma's effect on Mexico
Officials analyzing the damage to Mexico now agree that Hurricane Wilma is the most destructive hurricane ever to hit Mexico, surpassing the $1.2 billion in insured property damage done by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. Most tourist facilities in Cancun and surrounding areas are expected to be closed through mid-December, and economic losses from this closure alone will approach $1 billion. Officials estimate that 98 percent of the tourist infrastructure and 75 percent of the population of the state of Quintana Roo, which includes the resorts of Cancn, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres, have been damaged. Over 90 percent of the 17.4 miles of sand in Cancn has been washed away, and a multi-million dollar beach replenishment project will begin in December. Cruise ships scheduled to dock at Cozumel are finding alternate ports of call, as one of that island's three piers for cruise ships was completely destroyed, and another heavily damaged. Cozumel also suffered "significant damage" to its famous coral reefs, the Environment Department said in a report. Over a million acres of forests were also damaged by Wilma, according to the report.

On a hopeful note, Mexico has shown a remarkable ability to bounce back quickly from severe hurricanes, as we saw after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Emily earlier this year. The bulldozers are already out on the beaches of Cancun, clearing away debris. President Fox's goal of having 80% of Cancun's hotels open for business by December 15 is ambitious, but doable. A full recovery by Easter seems probable. Cozumel may recover faster; officials there have set a November 15 date for resuming tourist traffic, and Carnival Cruise lines has agreed to change their return date for cruise ship visits from December 15 to November 15.

Wilma's effect on the Bahamas
The western end of Grand Bahama Island received the full force of Wilma's southeast eyewall when she was a Category 3 storm, and suffered significant damage. Up to 7,000 of the island's population of 47,000 were affected. Grand Bahama was also hard hit by September 2004's Hurricane Frances and Jeanne, and was not recovered from those storms. The communities of Eight Mile Rock, Hepburn Town, Hunters, Martin Town, and Pinder's Point suffered major destruction to homes and utilities from a 15-20 foot storm surge. The island of Bimini, which has a population of 1,717, also suffered significant damages to homes, trees and utility poles from heavy rains and storm surge.

Wilma's effects elsewhere
Torrential rains in southwest Haiti triggered flooding that killed 11 people there. Severe flooding in Jamaica caused millions in damages to roads and buildings and killed one person. Wilma's storm surge and 20-foot foot waves pushed flood waters six feet deep up to 700 meters inland in Havana, Cuba, flooding thousands of buildings and destroying portions of the famed Malecon seawall. Including the damage done by a week of heavy rains to both ends of the islands, Wilma damaged or destroyed over 5000 buildings in Cuba. Over 700,000 people were evacuated in Cuba at various times during Wilma's passage. Honduras, Belize, and the Cayman Islands all received flooding and wave damage from Wilma.

Tropical Storm Alpha
More people may have been killed by Tropical Storm Alpha than by Wilma. The death toll in Haiti stands at 17, and nine people were killed in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Most of the victims in the Dominican Republic were swept away when a river broke its banks in the northern province of Puerto Plata. In Haiti, the Interior Ministry said that four people were still missing, bringing the likely total death toll to 30. Wilma is being blamed for 27 deaths so far, 10 in Florida, and 17 people in Mexico, Haiti and Jamaica.

I'll be back with an update if Beta attains hurricane status today, otherwise I'll see you in the morning.

Jeff Masters
Hurricane Wilma Marco Island Florida
Hurricane Wilma Marco Island Florida
Hurricane Wilma Marco Island Florida
Wilma in Cozumel
Wilma in Cozumel
sunken boats at Puerto Abrigo
Hurricane Wilma Naples Florida
Hurricane Wilma Naples Florida
Hurricane Wilma Naples Florida

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

Reader Comments

First ?
Palmettobug53, you are first, I think I am second. the others are being slow to get back on the new blog!
Good Morning!
That blobby next to Beta looks bigger than Beta...we are going to have a greek war! LOL
Does anyone feel this storm has a chance to move across the gulf??
It has a chance to move across the extreme southeastern part of the gulf.
Move across the southern tip of Florida and Cuba??
OGal, looks like history says it might, but I think a ridge will build and move it west, away from the US.
Thanks Stormy, I don't think I can move one more lawn chair this year.
Morning all...another beautiful day in Florida!!!!
hey 65 :-)
getting out here at noon...lucky me, huh? :-)
Hey stormy! :-) Yeah real lucky! I'm stuck here till 5:30 :-( Why don't you come here and tell them that I HAVE to leave at noon. LOL
ya 65, we have to do beach cleanup!!! :-)
I'm sure that I can find a beach that needs to be cleaned up so that I can leave early. I will just tell them that I am doing community service time. :-)
....wait, can't do that. I have a closing coming in at 4:30
According to the official strike probability map, there is roughly a 5% chance Beta will head toward Cuba/Yucatan area.

Hi everybody! What have I missed? Which way is Beta going and what is this about a new blobby?
Link CMC model...one of the few showing beta coming north
hi gb
Why does the LBAR always seem to have all storms headed near Tampa even though this is a weak model to use just wondering why it is always pointing toward Tampa
Hey all :-)~
morning 21
hmm, that CMC animation is very wilma like. how reliable is that model for tropical features?
Bad day here... I can't wait to go home... MEAN boss :-(
rw..not sure. I do know that it was back an forth with Wilma.

21...at least it's Friday!!!!!
Why does the LBAR always seem to have all storms headed near Tampa even though this is a weak model to use just wondering why it is always pointing toward Tampa
geez, got busy here...going home...
everyone have a wonderful weekend! :-)
bye stormy....have a wonderful weekend. Think of those of us who have to work the rest of the day. :-) LOL
Bye Stormy!

Weatherdude - You are right about that!!! The boss is just taking it out on me (he's mad at the shopworkers).. lol
same stormy, have great weekend.

rwdobson, in general, the cmc was doing good estimates on Wilma, and probably looking at similar pattern.

Beta's lates 11 am track from NHC changed from west turn at perpendicular central Nicaragua to a more northerly path, just clipping the northeast peninsula of Cabo gracias a Dios. Then just traverses the low areas in central honduras, then an east? turn closer to Belize and the Atlantic ocean. So, i seems the latest NHC forecast is closer to the cmc.
It won't get as far north as Tampa.

But I feel bad for further south florida if Beta does make it to th Gulf.
On my lunch break. What's up with Beta?
32. JM2
Here are my Wilma pics: Link

I've temporarly relocated to central FL until the power gets turned on back. The lines for gas are crazy down there and with all the traffic lights out driving around is just too dangerous.
What is the cmc
34. OGal
JM2, welcome to Central Florida. I hope you have some fun while you are here. Your pictures remind me of our house after Charley. I promise it will get better. Just get a little done at a time. I know the roof tiles will be hard to get, but be patient. Eat at some of our great restaurants. Cafe De Antonia in Celebration is great if you lke good Italian food. One fun place is Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney. It is a true taste of Africa done in cafeteria style. Anyway have fun, rest, and enjoy the wonderful weather.
Ogal...I've been to Boma and I loved it!!
I'm glad you posted the information about Wilma's effects outside the S. Florida area, Jeff.

Also, there has been one death attributed to Wilma in the Bahamas. A one year-old was swept away by storm surge in the Northern Bahamas, and the body has not yet been recovered. So that brings Wilma's unofficial death toll to 28.
Navy microwave
Off topic here, but tomorrow night (Oct 29th) will be a good night to skywatch. Mars will be esp. cool. About the only good thing about being without power, in populated areas, is that you can really see all the stars that streetlights, etc., usually drown out.

Part of the blob to the northeast of 946 as seen on Pico San Juan radar;
Death to all blobs in the SW Carrinbean. May you dissipate never to be mentioned on this web site again!
I can't take this......makes me nervous when our local guy says, about Beta, "don't you guys worry about it now, let me worry about it"
Ogal, my son, daughter-in-law and 2 1/2 yr old grandson had reservations in Disney next weekend, but they called us yesterday and said they were going this weekend instead. They live about 2 miles from us. Their house is secure and undamaged, yard mostly cleared and he will be so busy at work next week they would have probably had to canc their reservations anyway. so they will be having a great time in Disney while waiting on Power to return to their Sunrise house.
Orlando is probably having a booming business this week!
beta and the blob

any idea whats up with blob? dr. masters said it could be absorbed by beta, but isnt that like a snake trying to eat an aligator? :)

the "blob" looks heading towards haiti/dom rep IMHO! ;)
What is everyone's take on whether or not Beta will continue North and not take the turn to the Northeast??
Alpha and then Beta...

Gee, if we get Gamma, we can start a Tropical Fraternity!


Don't know why I think anything is funny right now. Still no power, not likely to have it for a week or more. And to think I moved to Florida for the weather...what was I thinking?
Well, Weasel, you should have been a little more specific
about WHAT weather you were moving for! LOL
Sorry typo meant Northwest not Northeast.
I had an involutary gulp when i saw the historical map Dr Master posted. Someone talked about it yesterday but a pic is worth a 1000 words.

~the cmc (in 850 vorticiy) you can see how it is forcasting the partial digesting of the other blob as Beta grows larger. called for this yesterday as well.

I think the ukmet was callin for this yesterday as well, has now gone with a nnw treck.

Alot of the models callin for the westward track doesn't show much if anything for the blob which seems to be gettin alot more convection to it. It will be interesting to see how they interact.
49. OGal
Gamma, we have had alot of people come here to evacuate, but most of them have gone back home. Your son, wife, and little guy should be able to pretty much do what they want with no lines. This is truly Floridian time for the theme parks. I hope they have a great time and the little guy doesn't get too tired. Weather should be just perfect. There are no blobs anywhere to be seen. LOL :))
They are truly Disney regulars. Cole is the Engerizer Bunny, takes a lot to run him down!

another story:
Monday morning before the worse hit my son called to make sure we had everything completed. Little Cole got on the phone with me and said,
"I am all HUNKERED DOWN, Gamma!"

The storm did not faze him at all, of course his Dad had everything secure for them so they just played all day inside until the storm passed.What can you say about little Florida natives!
51. dcw
We should start Alpha Beta Gamma Hurricane Tracking Fraternity.
52. dcw
Screw playing inside, Gamma, I was out in it...cool stuff. After evacuating from Charley (to Orlando, lol), and feeling the full force of a Cat 2...I'll be out in every storm that comes our way.
53. OGal
dcw, I love the idea of the fraternity. You need to come up with our pin.
from 5 pm NHC advisory:
Thought some of you might be interested in this short movie the Mississippi DOT put together on katrina. If I can do this right. Pause........well I couldn't figure it out
http://gomdot.com/katrina/ It's a wmv file. The music is cheesy, but the pictures are good.
Hiya from Nassau, Bahamas :)
Thanks to all those concerned for us down here. Ironically, quite a number of us here are sending funds to relatives in South FL affected by Wilma because they are in a worse state than us. We are just happy to lend a hand to those who continuously help us. :)
I have attended meetings here with our national emergency services and I have seen the photos taken by our chief photographer of the damage on Grand Bahama ... painful, at best, with even coffins and the intermed ending up in the streets. :(
Let's hope Beta and the others behave themselves.
The best to all this hurricane season :)

Did you see any pictures of the area in West End that got so much storm surge?

I think we had worse effects from the water here than they got in S. FL.
ANyone there?
Way to quite in here. Where is everyone???
I think so, too, BahaHurican :(
our photographer shot pics of Grand Bahama from a helicopter and the damage was sombering ...
I think we were fortunate that more lives were not lost. As it is, this is another heavy blow for Grand Bahamians to bear.
63. TWH
Looks like Beta will miss doing anything to the USA.. thankfully! It's been a long Hurricane Season for us!

- If you get time, check out these great weather forums!
The Weather 'Hood -
64. dcw
We have a Hurricane as of 2AM...now to see if we have a new Wilma in the making.
If Beta hits the USA, I'll eat my hat. If there is a alpha beta gamma frat, I can be the president of the Afghanistan chapter right?
Hurricane Beta has been heading NW for the last 15 hours, despite ongoing predictions she'll head west. If she continues NW, she'll miss or just brush the N/H angle and then continue on toward Yucatan...
Good Morning everyone,
I am at work today, we are having a really big production promotion to try and get some of our backlog work from our 4 day Hurricane Wilma closure processed. I will be out on the floor most of the day inspiring and helping the employees. I will try to check in when I can.
While we have made our employee who can come back to work, we are doing our best to take care of them. We bring them in (no charge) snacks for breakfast, lunch, and have a hot meal ready to take home when they leave at 7pm; even gave each one 3 water bottles to take home yesterday. We have 600 employees at this one location. Plus for those that did come in this week,giving them some extra bonus time on their checks this week with a $20 gas card. We do appreciate those that did come in and help us get caught up.

I see we have a new hurricane but looks to be heading west.
Thank Goodness!
Still no power at my house, 6 days now. Still 500,000 in Broward with no power, but making headway considering what thosen numbers looked like a few days ago.
Take care and good morning to you.
hi gamma - hurricane Beta is heading NW, not W
The $1.2 billion 'insured' damage does not sum up the total losses as probably close to 90% of people that own property in Mexico are uninsured. The insurance companies do not work the same in Mexico as they do in the states.
InCozumel, actually the insurance companies do not work well here either. Ask anyone in the past year with claims how they fared!
Thanks to those that let me know Beta going NW not West; maybe it was just my wishful thinking!

Code1/InCozumel, I will know in a few weeks if my homeowners insurance is as good as they say they are!
No big damage but did have some claims for patio and fence around the pool (by law must have backyard fenced in with an open pool so it is suppose to be covered.)

Of course, no insurance will pay for tree removal and that would really come in handy around here! LOL
will check in later.
8 am NHC advisory confirms continues NW motion:
Morning, everyone. I see we now have hurricane status on Beta. Anyone know what time they upgraded from TS to H?
2am advisory Palmetto.

Got word from palmbeacher she is okay, she finally got a flight out of Palm Beach to Ohio. She told me in the email she will try to post something in the next couple of days
Was crashed out by that time, Progressive. Can't stay up
all night and function the next day, like I used to. LOL
I see Beta is a hurricane now. Is this stupid thing even moving???? I hope he/she/it doesn't get in the Gulf. Any predictions from our experts????
78. OGal
Hi Everyone, just saw a possible late track of Beta up across the big bend area of Florida. This was on one of our local stations. Has anyone else seen a like track??
OGal, bite your lip. No more Hurricanes for the USA!!!

what ya'll think? coming into the visible on the middle right is what i believe will be tropical storm Gamma....

Regardless of the intensity of Beta at landfall...this tropical
cyclone will bring torrential rainfall to portions of Central
America...primarily Nicaragua and Honduras...causing considerable
damage...and life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. In
addition...some of the deep tropical moisture associated with Beta
may get drawn into a developing winter-type low pressure system
over the Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next week.

what would this "winter-type" storm mean for the south?
Still a lot of southerly high-altitude shear on the rotating blip approaching the Antilles--I wouldn't worry just yet, but it might decrease as it approaches Hebert's Box.
Masters has a new blog.