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

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

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

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

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342. jcpoulard
8:20 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Every thing is clear now ! TS ALMA will dissipate sooner as posible and BLOB near JAMAICA will - with a litle bit of chance - be a weak TD and move NNE and track between haiti and JAMAICA. That's my projection for now.
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341. groundswell
8:20 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
entire nw caribbean moisture field increasing & lifting-if it weren't for the shear, which is high (except in far nw portion), we would have development.
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340. stormyeyes
8:19 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
stormkat...why do you think the pressures
dropped so fast in Alma that it didn't
become a hurricane
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339. SRQBoogieMan
8:14 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
I was thinking Herb was a perfect name for a storm originatiing near Jamaica. There was plenty of folks trying to sell me some "herb" when I was on my last cruise there.
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338. cchsweatherman
4:16 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
IpswichWeatherCenter,
That is satellite imagery for the sun indicating where sunspots are so that they can measure solar cycles.
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336. Ivansrvivr
8:15 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
CC that may just be a wobble. Tropical systems often do unexpected things when interacting with mountainous terrain. Especially if there aren't strong steering currents.
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335. stormkat
8:12 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
i did not forecast a busy season in 2006 or 2007 because el nino was in the pacific plus all the african dust that inhibited development on the african coast....this season im worried about the east coast due to the azores high setting up much further north then it was last year....also the shear was just to strong last 2 years to have anything major develop...i hope i answered your questions....stormkat
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334. CatastrophicDL
8:14 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Hi CCHS! Hey guys I've lost my saved link for detailed Dvoraks - can someone post a link for me? Thanks!
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333. Ivansrvivr
8:11 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
It may be too soon for the possible turn to show up in latest track. It is just in the last few frames of the loop.
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331. guygee
8:08 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
319. IpswichWeatherCenter 8:05 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
..
but why call it hurricane HERB?


"Herb" used to be slang for a fanciful or deceitful story, a con, or a lie. I have heard the word used in that context...maybe that is it?
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330. IpswichWeatherCenter
8:12 PM GMT on May 29, 2008


Just on the trivia front... anyone know what this is?

I have got no clue.
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329. fmbill
8:11 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
jp...it's not a web address. It's an actual picture (.gif, .jpg, etc)
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328. cchsweatherman
4:10 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
Didn't see that. It looks like it has been riding the coastline in the last two frames.
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327. stormyeyes
8:10 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
stormkat....why do you think we had 2 real
easy seasons 2006/2007?
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326. cchsweatherman
4:09 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
323. Ivansrvivr 4:09 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
CC, I thought it looked like it hooked back WNW in the last few frames.


Let me take a look. Maybe I got my coordinates wrong.
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323. Ivansrvivr
8:06 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
CC, I thought it looked like it hooked back WNW in the last few frames.
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322. stormkat
8:05 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
thank you stormyeyes i appreciate the compliment....i just try to save as many lives as i possibly can....i have been doing this for a while i know what im talking about....we have some other good forcasters in here also you should read there posts like jp...and lefty...hurr123....stormkat
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321. fmbill
8:07 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
IpswichWeatherCenter...I'm just playin' along. They use to use names with the letter "Z" since we never get that far in the alphabet. Ha!!!
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319. IpswichWeatherCenter
8:02 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
309.

It is...

but why call it hurricane HERB?

At least come up for a decent name if its gonna become a cat 3/4?
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318. fmbill
8:03 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
I'd post the path of "Herb" but I don't know how. Suggestions?

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317. stormyeyes
8:01 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
stormkat
I have been watching you post, all morning
and it sounds like you know what you are
talking about.I read your transcript on
Katrina and its scary, I get goosebumps
when I read it.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
315. cchsweatherman
3:57 PM EDT on May 29, 2008


It appears that Tropical Storm Alma is making landfall right now as half the eye-feature has come ashore in Central Nicaragua. Still appears to be on a NE course right now.
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313. nrtiwlnvragn
4:02 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
300. TexasGulf

3.3.2.1. Numbering and Naming Tropical Cyclones. Tropical cyclone centers
will number tropical depressions in their areas of responsibility. Number tropical depressions
consecutively beginning each season with the spelled out number “ONE.” In the north Pacific,
for ease in differentiation, tropical depression numbers, assigned by NHC or CPHC, will include
the suffix “E” for eastern (east of 140°W longitude) or “C,” for central (180° to 140°W
longitude) respectively, after the number. In both the Atlantic and Pacific, once the depression
reaches tropical storm intensity, name it and drop the depression number. The depression
number will not be used again until the following year. Give tropical cyclones a name in the first
advisory after intensifying to 34 knots (39 mph) or greater. In the Western Pacific, WFO Guam
will use the JTWC cyclone number for all non-named systems. For RSMC Tokyo named
systems, WFO Guam will use the RSMC Tokyo name with the associated JTWC number in
parentheses.
The following rules apply for tropical cyclones passing from one basin to another: Retain
the name if a tropical cyclone passes from one basin into another basin as a tropical cyclone; i.e.
advisories are continuous. An unnamed tropical depression will also retain its number (e.g.
Tropical Depression Six-E remains Tropical Depression Six-E) if it crosses into another area of
responsibility. For unnamed tropical depressions moving from west to east across 180°, CPHC
will use the associated Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s (JTWC) number and indicate JTWC in
parentheses following the number. For named systems, CPHC will use the RSMC Tokyo name
and provide the associated JTWC number in parentheses.
Within a basin, if the remnant of a tropical cyclone redevelops into a tropical cyclone, it is
assigned its original number or name. If the remnants of a former tropical cyclone regenerate in
3-7
a new basin, the regenerated tropical cyclone will be given a new designation.

National Hurricane Operations Plan
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312. IpswichWeatherCenter
8:01 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
T-num JMA IMD US SS Cat Aus Scale (10 min) (3 min) (1 min)============================================================Tropical Depression----------------------1.0 25 kt 25 kt Tropical Low1.5 30 kt 15-25 kts 30 kt2.0 30 kt 30 kts 35 kt Tropical Storm---------------------2.5 35 kt 35 kts 40 kt Cat 13.0 45_kt 40-45 50_kt Severe Tropical Storm---------------------3.5 55 kt 50-60 55 kt Cat 2Typhoon--------------------------4.0 65 kt 65-70 65 kt 1 Cat 34.5 70 kt 75-80 75 kt 1-25.0 80 kt 90 90 kt 2-35.5 90 kt 100 100 kt 3 Cat 46.0 95 kt 115 115 kt 46.5 100 kt 130 130 kt 4
Super Typhoon-----------------------------
7.0 110 kt 140 kt 5
7.5 115 kt 155 kt 58.0 120 kt 170 kt 5



anyone know where i can find the numbers for Alma on this?
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311. Drakoen
7:54 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Alma looks like she will make landfall as a strong tropical storm. Topographic lift is likely dump copious amounts of moisture in Nicaragua and Honduras. Model guidance, water vapor imagery, and mid level winds suggest a mid level ridge is over the Gulf of Mexico with the easterly flow extending down to the Caribbean. The storm has been following the NHC points closely and a gradual path over western Honduras seems likely. There is a slight chance that whats left of Alma could slip into the Gulf of Honduras for a short period of time a possibly re-strengthen. That solution is viewed as unlikely with numerical computer model guidance.
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310. HurricaneGeek
3:56 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
Post 300.
Please people, remember that this is all hypothetically speaking:

If Alma moves into the Carib with any wind speed greater than 39 (TS), with a center of circulation (COC) that is still trackable, Alma will keep it's name into the Atlantic Basin from then on out.
If, however, the center becomes untrackable while crossing Central America, but some left over energy from the "ex-Alma" helps in regenerating a new TS, then it will be named Arthur. Same goes for TDs and visa vera for the Basins =)
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309. fmbill
7:57 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
I think it's ironic that we are currently participating in a Statewide Hurricane exercise and the current storm "Hurricane Herb" is located just south of Jamaica.

HURRICANE HERB DISCUSSION NUMBER 16
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL772008
1100 AM EDT THU MAY 29 2008

...TEST...TEST...TEST...THIS IS A DRILL...

SATELLITE IMAGERY AND RADAR DATA FROM JAMAICA INDICATE THAT THE
CENTER OF HERB IS INLAND OVER WESTERN JAMAICA. THERE HAS BEEN SOME
DECREASE IN ORGANIZATION DURING THE PAST FEW HR...SO THE MAXIMUM
WINDS ARE ESTIMATED TO HAVE DECREASED TO 75 KT. THE CENTER SHOULD
EMERGE FROM THE WEST COAST OF JAMAICA DURING THE NEXT FEW HR.

THE INITIAL MOTION IS 280/12. HERB REMAINS ON THE SOUTHWESTERN SIDE
OF A DEEP-LAYER RIDGE OVER THE WESTERN ATLANTIC...WITH WATER VAPOR
IMAGERY SHOWING A LARGE DEEP-LAYER TROUGH DEVELOPING OVER THE
WESTERN UNITED STATES. THE LARGE-SCALE MODELS FORECAST THIS TROUGH
TO DIG SOUTHEASTWARD AND BREAK DOWN THE RIDGE OVER THE GULF OF
MEXICO...WHICH SHOULD ALLOW HERB TO TURN TOWARD THE NORTH BY 72-96
HR. WHILE ALL TRACK GUIDANCE AGREES WITH THIS SCENARIO...
THERE IS THE USUAL SPREAD ON WHEN AND WHERE THE TURN MAY OCCUR.
THE GFS AND GFDL MODELS CALL FOR A EARLIER AND SHARPER TURN TOWARD
THE WEST COAST OF THE FLORIDA PENINSULA...WHILE THE ECMWF...
NOGAPS...AND UKMET CALL FOR A MORE GRADUAL TURN AND EVENTUAL
LANDFALL IN THE WESTERN FLORIDA PANHANDLE OR ALABAMA. THE OFFICIAL
FORECAST IS SOMEWHAT BETWEEN THESE EXTREMES...CALLING FOR HERB TO
MOVE THROUGH THE YUCATAN CHANNEL AND EVENTALLY MAKE LANDFALL IN THE
WESTERN FLORIDA PANHANDLE. THE NEW FORECAST TRACK IS BETWEEN THE
ECMWF AND GUNA MODELS AND A LITTLE TO THE LEFT OF THE CENTER OF THE
GUIDANCE ENVELOPE.

THE INTENSITY FORECAST IS SOMEWHAT TRICKY. IN ADDITION TO BEING
OVER LAND...HERB IS IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF ABOUT 20 KT OF
NORTHEASTERLY VERTICAL SHEAR. THE LARGE-SCALE MODELS FORECAST THIS
SHEAR TO BECOME SIGNIFICANT WESTERLY SHEAR OVER THE CENTRAL AND
NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO DUE TO THE APPROACHING TROUGH. IN
BETWEEN...THERE MAY BE A FAVORABLE PERIOD OF LIGHTER SHEAR AS HERB
PASSES OVER THE LOOP CURRENT IN THE SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO. THE
GFDL SHOWS A BURST OF RAPID INTENSIFICATION DURING THAT BRIEF
TIME...WHILE THE SHIPS MODEL CALLS FOR GRADUAL STRENGTHENING
THROUGH 72 HR. THE INTENSITY FORECAST CALLS FOR GRADUAL
STRENGTHENING IN BEST AGREEMENT WITH THE SHIPS MODEL. EVEN IN THIS
SCENARIO...HERB IS FORECAST TO REACH MAJOR HURRICANE STRENGTH OVER
THE CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO. HERB SHOULD WEAKEN AFTER LANDFALL ON
THE NORTHERN GULF COAST AND DISSIPATE COMPLETELY BY 120 HR AS IT
MERGES WITH A FRONTAL SYSTEM.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 29/1500Z 18.2N 78.0W 75 KT
12HR VT 30/0000Z 18.6N 79.9W 75 KT
24HR VT 30/1200Z 19.4N 82.4W 80 KT
36HR VT 31/0000Z 20.2N 84.6W 85 KT
48HR VT 31/1200Z 21.5N 86.1W 90 KT
72HR VT 01/1200Z 25.5N 88.0W 100 KT
96HR VT 02/1200Z 35.0N 85.0W 50 KT...INLAND EXTRATROPICAL

FORECASTER BEVEN


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307. Ivansrvivr
7:57 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Alma looks like it is moving WNW in that loop. The coastline turns more westward later but for now it may be moving back out over open water. Small core storms are often very erratic in both strength and motion.
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306. TampaSpin
4:00 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
Gotta run....everyone be Civil..Peace....lol
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305. TampaSpin
3:58 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
301. Orcasystems 3:58 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
I see some of the conversation is still Blob versus non Blob chatter. There is a liquor store next door to my shop, and the weather has gotten much warmer here lately... I just saw a Blob.. and trust me, I don't want to talk about it.

Levity is good in times of stress :)


Maybe you could serve us all some Alcohol...lol
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304. stormkat
7:57 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
texas you have nothing to worry about alma will never reach the yucatan.....it will die long before that.....so you can put your mind at ease....stormkat
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303. atmoaggie
7:56 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Ahh, I see Terra. I found it on SPC, too, now.

Thanks.

Wonder why the text and graphical probability products are so different.

See all of the text probs for this watch here.

Interesting tidbits also include:
MAX HAIL /INCHES/ : 4.0
MAX WIND GUSTS SURFACE /KNOTS/ : 70
MAX TOPS /X 100 FEET/ : 550

(Yeah, that is 55k feet! Wowsa. Way over what commercial aircraft are willing to deal with. They will be driving around it.)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
301. Orcasystems
7:55 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
I see some of the conversation is still Blob versus non Blob chatter. There is a liquor store next door to my shop, and the weather has gotten much warmer here lately... I just saw a Blob.. and trust me, I don't want to talk about it.

Levity is good in times of stress :)
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300. TexasGulf
7:43 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
I have a question about re-naming Alma if it does follow the Eastern edge of it's projected path.

If Alma retains even minimal tropical storm strength, does the center of circulation have to cross the coast to be named an Atlantic storm or does just a significant portion of the circulation with verifiable 35mph+ winds and low pressure have to emerge over water?

How long will it have to remain in the Carribean to be recognized and classified as an Atlantic storm?

Landfall isn't declared until Center of Circulation crosses a coast even for a few minutes, so I'd assume the same rule applies for naming a new Atlantic tropical storm.
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299. IpswichWeatherCenter
7:51 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
@@@ 256 :

It will turn into Alma-Arthur
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297. TerraNova
3:50 PM EDT on May 29, 2008
286. atmoaggie 3:50 PM EDT on May 29, 2008

WWUS40 KWNS 291930
WWP6

TORNADO WATCH PROBABILITIES FOR WT 0386
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0230 PM CDT THU MAY 29 2008

WT 0386 PDS
PROBABILITY TABLE:
PROB OF 2 OR MORE TORNADOES : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE STRONG /F2-F5/ TORNADOES : 70%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE WIND EVENTS : 80%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE WIND EVENTS >= 65 KNOTS : 60%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE HAIL EVENTS : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE HAIL EVENTS >= 2 INCHES : 80%
PROB OF 6 OR MORE COMBINED SEVERE HAIL/WIND EVENTS : >95%

&&
ATTRIBUTE TABLE:
MAX HAIL /INCHES/ : 4.0
MAX WIND GUSTS SURFACE /KNOTS/ : 70
MAX TOPS /X 100 FEET/ : 550
MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR /DEGREES AND KNOTS/ : 24035
PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION : YES

&&
FOR A COMPLETE GEOGRAPHICAL DEPICTION OF THE WATCH AND
WATCH EXPIRATION INFORMATION SEE WOUS64 FOR WOU6.

$$
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296. 69Viking
2:49 PM CDT on May 29, 2008
I don't think they know for sure which way Alma is going to turn. If it goes west it won't affect the Carribean in 2 days let alone 4.
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295. eye
7:51 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
23, I will definitely keep a watchful eye on the blob in the Carribean.
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294. fmbill
7:52 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Hey NEwxguy & Tampa...it must be nice having a great team to cheer. My team seems to always be a disappointment (at least for the past 20 years). Go Pittsburg Pirates!!!
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293. NEwxguy
7:52 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
290. TampaSpin 7:52 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
NewX when you coming back down to visit family.

not sure,not in the near future.
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292. SRQBoogieMan
7:50 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Actually looking like a good young core in place for the Rays, might make 'em a contender for a while. Time will tell. Back to the WX.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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