Alma dies without causing a major disaster; tornadoes rip Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:03 PM GMT on May 30, 2008

Tropical Storm Alma has dissipated over the high mountains of Honduras, and thankfully did not dump enough rain to cause a major flooding disaster in Central America. At 3pm EDT yesterday, Alma became the first tropical storm since records began in 1949 to make landfall on the Pacific coast of Central America. All previous Eastern Pacific storms have hit Mexico, which is considered part of North America. Alma came ashore in Nicaragua, near the Honduras border, as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds. So far, one person has been killed in Nicaragua, due to a fallen power cable. However, Alma has not dumped enough rain to cause widespread flooding--rainfall amounts in Nicaragua the past two day have been 3-8 inches. Costa Rica has had rains of similar magnitude, which have caused isolated mudslides that have blocked roads. Additional rain from Alma's remnants should total less than two inches in Costa Rica and four inches in Nicaragua. However, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula are likely to get 4-8 inches of rain over the next two days from this system, which could cause significant flooding and mud slides.

Figure 1. Current satellite image of Alma's remnants.

There is a large area of disturbed weather that has developed in the Western Caribbean between Jamaica and the Yucatan Peninsula in the past few hours, in association with a trough of low pressure extending from the center of Alma. This morning's 7:37am EDT QuikSCAT pass showed winds of up to 50 knots (58 mph) in this region, but no hint of a circulation or wind shift. It is possible that this disturbed area could start to develop on its own later today, as a westward-moving tropical wave currently near Jamaica interacts with it. This area should expand and spread into Honduras, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan by Saturday. However, I'm not expecting a major flooding disaster with heavy loss of life anywhere in Central America from Alma's remnants. The GFS model is predicting that moisture from Alma will eventually work its way north and bring heavy rains to Florida by June 7. No models are predicting a tropical storm in the Atlantic during the coming week.

Figure 2. Doppler radar winds from the Kearney, Nebraska tornadoes of May 29, 2008. Note that a twin set of vorticies appears in this image, denoting that two adjacent tornadoes may have hit.

Tornadoes rip the Midwest again Thursday; tornadoes expected today in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri
Numerous strong tornadoes raked the Midwest last night, adding to the extensive damage already wreaked by one of the worst months of tornado damage in U.S. history. Last night's most significant destruction occurred in Jewell, Kansas, and Kearney, Nebraska. In Jewell, numerous businesses were destroyed and the town water tower toppled. In Kearney, multiple twisters hit, and a 90-car train was knocked off of its tracks. Wunderblogger Mike Theiss caught up to the Kearney tornado, and describes his experience in his blog today. All told, there were 55 tornado reports Thursday, but no deaths or injuries.

The Storm Prediction Center is calling for a "Moderate" risk of severe weather across Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri this afternoon---one level below their "High" risk level that was posted yesterday. Expect another significant tornado outbreak today. 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.

Jeff Masters

TIV 1 under thunderstorm (MikeTheiss)
Photo of the original TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) driving out from underneath thunderstorm. Photo copyright Mike Theiss
TIV 1 under thunderstorm
Osbourne Kansas Tornado (MikeTheiss)
Blurry photo of the Osbourne Kansas tornado taken while driving. Photo copyright Mike Theiss
Osbourne Kansas Tornado
Storm Chasers with eerie skies (MikeTheiss)
Photo of Cloud 9 Tours members parked underneath some really eerie looking skies. Photo copyright Mike Theiss
Storm Chasers with eerie skies

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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16. IKE
10:13 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
JFV....did you read what Dr. Masters said about the Caribbean disturbance?

"""It is possible that this disturbed area could start to develop on its own later today, as a westward-moving tropical wave currently near Jamaica interacts with it."""
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14. smmcdavid
10:12 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
I think that's good news JFV...
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11. IKE
10:10 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
Looks like Alma wasn't as bad as it could have been...great news!

I got a thundershower at my house in the Florida panhandle.

Maybe that moisture in the NW Caribbean will eventually bring some rain to Florida.(fingers crossed).
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9. earthlydragonfly
11:09 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
The wave in the Central atlantic seems to have recieved a boost of energy?? It is interesting when you watch the last few frames of the loop and it seems that energy is driving westward out of the storm activity to the east. I have frequently noticed this over the last few years and wondered if there is an explination for the phenomenon?? Anyone???
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7. earthlydragonfly
11:08 AM EDT on May 30, 2008
TY Dr. Masters for the update!!
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6. smmcdavid
10:07 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
I wouldn't mind getting some rain around here, maybe it would cool us off. I'd like all the severe stuff to stay away from me though.
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3. smmcdavid
10:03 AM CDT on May 30, 2008
Thanks Dr. Masters.
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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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