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Caribbean islands clean up after Omar

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:56 PM GMT on October 17, 2008

Tropical Storm Omar continues to race northeastward over the open Atlantic Ocean, and is rapidly deteriorating, thanks to high wind shear and cold waters. The storm is only a threat to shipping now, and will not affect any more land areas. The cleanup continues on several Caribbean islands hit by Omar's heavy rains and high winds. Thankfully, no deaths or injuries have been reported from the storm, which avoided making a direct hit on any islands. Hardest hit appears to be the island of Antigua, where 5.71" of rain was recorded at the airport. Severe flooding washed out roads and prompted many boat rescues, putting up to 100 people in shelters. St. Croix, whose eastern tip caught the eyewall winds of Omar, received minor damage, according to media reports. The storm did knock out power to the entire island for nearly a day, and caused considerable damage to piers and boats in the main harbor, though. Flooding was also reported in the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and St. Kitts and Nevis. On St. Martin, high waves dumped rocks and sand of the runway of the airport, forcing its closure. The airport was scheduled to be reopened today. More details on Omar's impact on the islands can be found at stormcarib.com.

Figure 1. Hurricane Omar as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite at 17:45 UTC October 15, 2008. At the time, Omar was a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Elsewhere in the tropics
Several computer models are predicting the development of a tropical depression in the Atlantic's southwestern Caribbean, off the coast of Nicaragua or Honduras, about 5-8 days from now. Wind shear is expected to be low, 5-10 knots, across most of the Caribbean for the next ten days, and I would not be surprised to see a tropical storm develop in the Caribbean next week.

Heavy rains continue over the Central American nations of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and El Salvador, in association with the remains of Tropical Depression Sixteen. The remains of TD 16 could move over the Eastern Pacific and regenerate into a tropical storm. Several of the computer models continue to indicate this possibility, and NHC is giving this system a medium (20-50% chance) of becoming a tropical depression in the Eastern Pacific by Sunday.

Hurricane Ike relief efforts
There continues to be an urgent need for relief supplies in the wake of Hurricane Ike. I recommend contributions to the portlight.org charity fund, formed by wunderground members to serve the needs of those often bypassed by traditional relief efforts. Contributions are fully tax-deductible, and more details can be found at StormJunkie's blog.

Figure 2. Damage in Antigua from Hurricane Omar. Image credit: Iain Mellows.

I'll have an update Saturday morning.

Jeff Masters
Omar Lashes Curacao!
Omar Lashes Curacao!
Omar Lashes Curacao!! The pictures say it all!
Bonaire Bar
Bonaire Bar
The Cappuchino bar on Bonaire's seafront during Tropical Storm Omar

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