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Emily whips into Windward Islands

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 12:30 PM GMT on July 14, 2005

Posted: 8:00pm EDT Wednesday July 13 2005
Emily is not struggling anymore, and is finally beginning to resemble a hurricane. The storm is more symmetric now, although smaller in areal extent than before. There is much more deep convection surrounding the center, and the pressure measured by the 8pm EDT Hurricane Hunter flight was 1000mb, down from 1003 mb earlier this afternoon. Emily is likely to be a hurricane tomorrow.

Winds have peaked in Barbados, reaching a sustained 43 mph at 2pm EDT, and were still blowing 35 mph last hour. Winds in Tobago, which will receive the heaviest blow from Emily, were 23 mph at 4pm EDT, and will continue to rise as Emily passes just north of the island. Emily will pass 50 or so miles south of Grenada early tomorrow morning and probably rake the island with winds up to 65 mph. They will take some modest damage, but will be relieved to escape what seemed a few days ago like another hit from a serious hurricane!

Dr. Jeff Masters

Posted: 2:15pm EDT Wednesday July 13 2005
Emily is still struggling. The last Hurricane Hunters mission into the center found the central pressure had returned to 1003 mb, after rising by 2 mb, to 1005 mb. No increase in winds was found. Satellite imagery shows a large band of intense thunderstorm to the northwest beginning to break away from the center, and it appears that the areal coverage of the circulation of the storm is shrinking. The low level center is more than 2/3 exposed. However, the burst of deep convection occurring near the center and to the southeast indicates that Emily is still a vigorous tropical storm.

I believe we will see a much smaller system emerge into Caribbean tomorrow. This is probably due in part to interaction with the South American land mass, the bane of tropical storms entering this part of the ocean.

What will happen next? I give four possibilities:

1) Emily will continue to struggle, pass too close to South America, and die in the Southeast Caribbean, like over 50% of all tropical storms do. (10% chance)

2) Emily will shake off it troubles and become a large Category 1 hurricane by tomorrow. (10% chance).

3) Emily will stay a tropical storm, and eventually make landfall in Central America as a tropical storm (5% chance).

4) Emily will become reorganize today into a small but intensifying storm, and become a hurricane one to three days from now (70% chance).

If Emily becomes a small hurricane, it is likely to follow a more southern course than if it turns in a big hurricane.

Posted: 9am EDT Wednesday July 11 2005

The main outer spiral band of Emily is now passing through Barbados, bringing heavy rain and tropical storm force winds to the island. However, the main force of the storm will be felt further south later today, as Emily passes near Tobago and Grenada.

The first Hurricane Hunter aircraft made it to the center at 8am, and found Emily still in its organizing stages. The central pressure was 1003mb, and the strongest surface winds observed were about 50-55 mph in the northwest quadrant. NHC was estimating peak winds of 60 mph, and the Hurricane Hunters may still find that when they sample the stronger south side of the storm.

The satellite appearance of the storm has a ragged, assymetrical appearance. There is not much thunderstorm activity on the northeast side, possibly signifying that the storm is trying to overcome some dry air in that region. It is likely that it will take Emily at least 12 hours to get its act together and become a hurricane--if it strengthens at all today. In yesterday's blog, I explained that Emily is approaching the SE Caribbean, which is notoriously hostile towards developing tropical storms. I wouldn't be surprised if it took another 36 hours before Emily makes it to hurricane strength.

Emily's lack of organization is good news for the southern Windward Islands, which were hard-hit by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Hurricanes are uncommon here; only two hurricanes have crossed through the Windward Islands south of Barbados (13 North Latitude) in the past 50 years. Both hurricanes were notorious villains. One was Ivan. The other was Hurricane Janet (1955), a Category 5 monster, killed over 600 people in Mexico, Belize, and the Caribbean islands. Janet was the only Atlantic hurricane to ever claim a Hurricane Hunter aircraft.

Most of the Windward Islands in Ivan's path suffered modest damage. In Barbados, Hurricane Ivan killed one person, destroyed more than 176 homes, and damaged at least 200 more. Most coastal roads were severely damaged due to erosion caused by the storm surge and wave action. Barbados suffered an island-wide power outage. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ivan damaged 50 homes and washed 2 homes into the seas. More than two-thirds of residents lost power. Tobago suffered 45 buildings damaged, and one death. The tourist industries on all of these islands has fully recovered.

The tiny island nation of Grenada suffered the cruelest blow of any country in the 2004 hurricane season. Ivan's center passed 7 miles south-southwest of the island as a strong Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds. The eyewall winds raked the southern portion of the island, killing 39 of the 90,000 residents, and damaging or destroying 14,000 homes--90% of all the buildings on the island. Grenada suffered about $3 billion in damage--over twice their GDP, perhaps setting a modern record for the greatest natural disaster damage suffered by a nation relative to GDP. For comparison, the damage done to Honduras by Hurricane Mitch in 1999 was about 60% of their GDP, and Sri Lanka suffered a loss of about 8% of their GDP due to the 2004 tsunami.

The economy of Grenada will take many years to recover. International aid has totaled as respectable $150 million, but is far short of what is needed. Tourism and agriculture, the two main businesses on the island, were both severely impacted. The country was the world's second-largest producer of nutmeg, after Indonesia. About 70% of this crop was wiped out by Ivan, and will take 7 to 10 years to regrow. Many hotels and restaurants are still under reconstruction, and the island is accomodating far fewer tourists than before the hurricane. Fortunately, a new cruise ship terminal built shortly before the hurricane was not damaged, so the island has been able to attract cruise ships. The island is one year into a planned three-year, $1.2 billion reconstruction program, and it will be at least two years before the Grenada tourist business returns to it pre-Ivan levels. The reconstruction is being done with far superior building codes to prevent a future hurricane from causing such devastation. One assessment found that the simple addition of $75 hurricane straps to anchor roofs would have vastly reduced the number of buildings that were affected. Most of the buildings damaged or destroyed occurred because the roofs peeled off from the building.

I'll close this blog with a poem written by Dr. Joseph Edmunds, former Ambassador from St. Lucia to the United States:


Ivan's invisible unpredictable evil dance,
Satanic uncontrollable whim unroofing
Stable minds, innocent abodes, all.
Uprooting flora, and fauna, national foundations,
Toils of years of sweat, pain, and national pride.

Helpless we were to your hammering winds.
No holy church of sacred godliness spared
No school of future wisdom could withstand
Deliberate slaughtering demolition of a nation,
No imagined reason for targeted disaster.

But Ivan cannot be greater than our people
Resolved to build again from flattened images.
Our vulnerability exposed by unpardonable acts.
No Ivan can destroy our collective resolute, our will
To rise again to new horizons beyond the present.

Ivan, Grenada is greater than your passing!
New roots to reconstruct, new rooftops to rise,
Foundations stronger than before, our people
Will rebuild with human spirit rejecting your return.
The Isle of Spice more spicy it will be.

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

I'm a new blogger, but a long-time weather watcher. Question: how many hurricane's have been alive at one time - do they only occur 1 at a time? Have there ever been two in close proximity at the same time?
Bonnie and Charley struck Florida within 24 hours of each other last year, but Bonnie was just a tropical storm. Charley made up for it, though!
There have been many instances of multiple storms existing at the same time; however, they typically don't play well with each other when they're in close proximity.
Looks like Emily has a few things going against any rapid development:
1. Low latitude track bring it near land and cutting off some of the moisture supply.
2. Track taking it over somewhat cooler water in the SE Caribbean Sea.
3. Rapid forward motion of 20mph.
I live in Barbados. In our area we have experienced only intermittent rain showers and distant rolls of thunder throughout this morning. There has been almost no wind at all.

Here is a good place to start (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/tcfaqHED.html)

To answer your questions (I am not a expert)

Q: How many hurricane's have been alive at one time - do they only occur 1 at a time?

A: I seem to remenber a few years ago their where 4 systems active at one time, but I can't remenber when. On weather underground to can go thur the weather history of hurricanes (may take some work but you might find you answer their if no one else can).

Q: Have there ever been two in close proximity at the same time?

A: As TampaSteve said Bonnie and Charley hit the area within 24 hours of each other, systems can be close as in hundreds of miles but not super close since I assume they would push each other apart and tropical systems would compete for the same resources (althought the ocean is a pretty huge resource)

Can anyone add to my post and help out our new weather blog buddy lakesuperiorcan
Looking at various imagery approx. 1030 hrs CDT the appearance of Emily almost looks as if the northen cloud mass has actually broken away from the southern, the northern mass showing a slight wnw component and the southern mass moving on steadily west.

The southernmost edge of the southern cloud mass gives the appearance it is experiencing resistance from South American landmass, slowing down while the northernmost portion of the southern cloudmass is rushing on ahead-like a runner whose upper body gets ahead of their lower body and stumbled. The southern cloud mass looks as if it is coiling on itself.

The northern cloud mass looks as if it is establishing independence from the southern showing an odd looking conflict of outflow in the gap between the two cloud masses.

Are we seeing cyclogenesis by cellular division? does such a thing exist?

If you look back at 1995, there were 4 tropical systems alive at once, Humberto, Iris, Jerry and Karen. The first 3 all formed the same day, Karen formed 4 days later. Only Humberto and Iris were hurricanes, Jerry and Karen were TS's.


a pic of some of them, iris is in middle:


In 1996 there were 3, Dolly, Edouard, and Fran. Gustav was born a day after dolly died...


In 1998, there were 3, Georges, Hermine, and Ivan. Jeanne was born a day after Hermine died...


In 1999 there was Bret, Cindy, Dennis and Emily at the same time....


I'm sure there are more years this has happened...
Thanks all. In my neck of the woods, we don't see such severe weather. It is an interesting learning experience. I am fascinated.

Based on your alias I assume you have more experience with blizzards than hurricanes. I grew up in NC about 100 miles from the ocean and have seen enough of them up close and personal to know that its not something for the weak of heart or for people that don't know and respect them. I am learning the same for blizzards and cold weather having moved to upstate NY almost 8 years ago. And for the record I lived in Ontario Canada for 2 years and it is not the land of polar bears, snow in July and igloos (ie the temp in 82 in Toronto, Ontario with a expected high of 95)
I got a interesting question in light of more powerful storms any push to add more catagories to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. ie

Cat 1: 74 - 95 MPH
Cat 2: 96 - 110 MPH
Cat 3: 111 - 130 MPH
Cat 4: 131 - 155 MPH
Cat 5: 155+ MPH

To maybe a 7 catagory scale ie:

Cat 1: 74 - 95 MPH
Cat 2: 96 - 110 MPH
Cat 3: 111 - 130 MPH
Cat 4: 131 - 155 MPH
Cat 5: 156 - 170 MPH
Cat 6: 171 - 185 MPH
Cat 7: 186+ MPH
In the last few satellite images, Emily looks to be having a little burst of convection going on near the center. Perhaps she's finally gathered her wits -- or she's just bluffing again...
used to be blizzards were the main event. We're in a weird weather phase, too. Couple of years ago we had a tropical event roar up Minnesota and hit the Can/US border all the way to Thunder Bay -- bringing torrential rains, trees uprooted, high winds and green clouds. So I sympathize with those in the path of Emily. --- wishing for an igloo today: in the midst of +80 temps = +90 with humidity.

The strongest Atlantic Hurricane was Gilbert based on min pressure. It's max wind was 160 Kts (184mph) and would place it in your Cat 6. Anyway, since Cat 5 is described as Catastrophic what could we call a Cat 6?
12z UKmet & CMC are intriguing. Much further north.

Currently in Barbados we're experiencing almost no rain and the distant rolls of thunder have stopped. The winds have picked up a little in the past 45 minutes - more like a good trade wind than a tropical storm, though. Local authorities are, perhaps wisely, still asking people to stay off the roads. Our home is open to enjoy the current breeze. We'll hunker down if the wind intensifies.

Kiss you hind area goodbye and Cat 7 would be the finger of god/allah/gaia (in short deity level destruction).

Yepper its 93 where I live (burb of Rochester, NY) and 91 at the nearest city where I grew up (Fayetteville, NC). Also got a friend in Waterloo, Ontario told me the temp is almost 90 there.
Camille was a Cat 7...heh heh...
TO TampaSteve
Your correct, I checked and Camille had a higher reported max wind at 165 Kts or 190mph which would be in Cat 7 range!! Duck and Cover!
Yea I remenber this one book, I think it was from Neal Stephenson (and not its not Heavy Weather by Sterling). About in the future like 2030 I think in order to stop a attack by Russia, we used a space based attack to melt ice causing this super typhoon that spawned other typhoons and then the last one was clocked near the speed of sound and traveling at over 100MPH when it hit (something like that).

Sounds like I may need a cat 8 - 10 or maybe more since a F5 can top out at 318MPH.
does anybody know if the High Pressure will last in the Gulf or will it move to the East???
Reminder: There are also F6 tornados. . .They just havent been recorded yet. And even if they really occured, I am sure the forecasters would say they were only F5s anyway.

To Taco2me61
Models suggest that the high pressure will hold at least through early Sunday.
Things could be worse imagine a storm that has lasted for 300 years with 250MPH winds and could cover the entire Earth twice over...

The Red Spot

Jupiter's most familiar feature is swirling mass of clouds that are higher and cooler than surrounding ones. Called the Great Red Spot, it has been likened to a great hurricane and is caused by tremendous winds that develop above the rapidly spinning planet. Winds blow counterclockwise around this disturbance at about 250 miles per hour. Hurricanes on Earth rarely generate winds over 180 miles an hour.

The Red Spot is twice the size of Earth and has been raging for at least 300 years. It is one of several storms on Jupiter.
Actually, the farther out you go, the higher the wind speed.... Neptune has winds in excess of 1400 MPH! Can you imagine? see Link
Thank You Fred, So on Tuesday I may need to go to Ohio just to get away from this one...
To Taco2me61 - Perhaps if it doesn't fall apart over the next 36hrs.
it looks like Emily is starting to get her act together... Has she moved into more favorable conditions?
why has the ukmet forecast model shifted to a more northwestern track?
The latest ukmet track that I have seen brings it into the new orleans area...I wonder what their reasoning is over the other models well to the south?
most likely the UKMET is just out to lunch
The Great Red Spot on Jupiter is not a storm, it is a high pressure center :)
There has not been a recon report from Emily for several hours, but it is really looking a ton better now... big blowup of deep convection near the center.
Of course, if your prediction is anywhere near reality -- the NHC should be sending you a job offer by Monday latest.
Actually, under Stormtops' post, I agreed with a similar scenario (not nearly as far north on the TX coast line). I do believe the weakness in the trof is more pronounced than the models are picking up on. I do belive Emily will stay on a WNW motion, comming within 30-40 miles either side of the northern Yucatan coast line, then begin traveling on a NW to NNW somewhere in the 25th parallel, comming in somewhere around 27th (give or take 1). Basically between Matagorda and Madre Lagoon....

Whether or not the tracks shift is questionable -- the tracks so far have been following Emily, not the other way around!
I like bold predictions like that STORMTOP. Nothing like going out on a limb because if you are wrong then you just look like you made a crazy pick and if you're right everyone things you are some kind of weather genius.
One sub-note to the conversation... Dennis made quite a jog to the left when he came onshore in Cuba. It "could" be of interest to see how (or if) the Yucatan impacts the course to any degree. (That is assuming that Emily actually makes contact with the Yucatan.)

Radar image from Jamaica
Another, but older image

Thank you, punkasshans! That is just what I was hoping to find.

Y'all are truly the Masters of the Informative Links.

im not trying to impress anyone im just giving you the facts as i see it in the water vapor charts around the storm...in the last fix the storm has moved 4/10 to the north and only 8/10 to the west....that my friend is very close to a nw wnw heading....the storm took several jogs to the right in the last 6 hours and as time goes on you are going to see what that trough over eastern texas and the middle level low over south fla has on emily...i still dont believe emily will hit the yucatan i think emilys journey will be over the water until it hits somewhere on the upper texas or la coasts...im not trying to brag what i know im just giving you the facts as i see them ....the computers are not picking up the middle
levellow off the south fla coast that will move west in the next 24 hours...this and the trough will have a major effect on emily....i can see emily getting in the southern gulf with 175 mph winds...our friends in the cayman islands are in deep trouble emily will pass within 40 miles of the island im predicting...only time will tell but i know this a watch will be issued for the nw and central gulf on monday afternoon....this is just the facts.....StormTOP.......
Lets not get confused between facts and predictions. Dont say its a fact that a watch will be issued for the NW and Central gulf when it hasnt happened.

StormTOP, are you just an amature or a professional meteorologist?
I am far from an expert, but doesn't the hurricane look like it is intensifing. The cloud tops are getting cooler and wrapping around the eye-wall. I think the 'cane is probably already a cat. 5.

StormTOP predictions are interesting, right now the 'cane has done its own tracking and hasn't paid to much attention to the models (although the models are doing better at the moment).
that punkass you will find out in due time...and its not a prediction its a fact that im stating a watch will be issued monday afternoon for the nw and cetral gulf...you need to check the enviroment around the storm and look at the water vapor charts...these computers dont know what the hell they are talking about right now...my friend you are dealing with a cat 5 as i see the satellite pics coming in...the storm is going through many changes there are going to be lots of jogs to the right in the next 24 hours...only time will tell if the nhc offers me a job and by the way i wouldnt work with a bunch a fools like that...if you only knew what went on there.....StormTop
I am just saying dont freak people out that there will DEFINATELY be a watch in a location when we are far away from issueing one. I am just trying to tell others that might be reading your post that you are predicting and, as we all know, cant be 100% sure (thus not a fact).
The only thing I would tend to agree with at the moment is the likelihood that Emily is indeed a July Cat 5. Her satellite presentation is phenomenal at the moment!
The satelite pictures are amazing. Also, if you notice when you run the satelite loops with the national weather service and add the tropical forecast points on to the image that the storm is SLIGHTLY north of the forecast point. Maybe StormTop will be right.
i can tel you this punkass emily is a cat 5 right now and thats a fact not a prediction...the nw gulf and central gulf better start paying attention...the cayman islands are in the direct path of the 160mph winds...
I agree, it is definately a cat 5 now, and i agree people should keep an eye on it. We will know the truth in the next 24 hours as to where this storm is really going.

What would a sustained wind of 175 mph mean in relation to past storms? Would that be the strongest on record?
Its true that we are not dealing 100% with facts. As a scientist, I know that facts are only as useful as the resolution of the data. It seems clear to me that, like in many areas of science, the hurricane prediction has large "art" factor associated with it. Experience augements what is known. That is why I generally respect opinions as long as they back them up with reasonable facts. StormTOP's arguments are a least worthy of consideration. Ony time will tell what happens but I wouldn't be surprised if the storm eventually ends up North of the model predictions. Saying that, it prudent to keep a close eye on the storm and I lived in Cancun, I would be VERY worried.
Yep, Emily is clearly strengthening. The ring of convection around the eye is intensifying by the hour. The new recon plane will be in the eye in a couple of hours(8pm EDT).

I have to agree that at least some of the models are out to lunch right now. The 12z and 18z GFS take Emily almost due west into Belize which is garbage if you look at the satellite loop over the last several hours. If you watch a long loop and put a ruler up to the screen it is pretty clear Emily is moving a bit more nw with time.
I believe Camille had "unofficial" 190mph winds, but 175mph would be morbidly close. I think that Gilbert, Camille and Mitch all had 175mph+.
And I hope the recon plane gets there in time to measure the 165kt flight level winds it most surely will find.
Looking at those forecast points and the postion of the storm.. its hard to believe that the forecast points are correct. I also said a long time ago that the storm would hit the tip of the Yucatan and then make landfall somewhere between TX/LO border and the Florida border.

I just dont like to present my predictions in a way that someone might do something rash because of them.

StormTop, I do like your presentation of the facts through. Its hard not to understand what you are saying. Well written and I can only hope you are wrong about it. Not because I want you to be wrong, but a direct hit on New Orleans/Houston would destroy either city.
Ha! Well, I've been using the ruler approach, too...

Grand Cayman may have some issues soon; however, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac I believe are pretty safe. Emily would have to make a hard right turn to significantly impact the northern islands.
Even Grand Cayman is really far north of the direction it is headed. Maybe not 160mph winds, I would say more around 100.

Either way, its WAY too close for comfort down there. Last year was too much with Ivan.
Emily looks like cat 5.

A hurricane hunter is inside right now and we have an update soon.
If you look closely at the satellite loop, it also appears that very small constriction of the eye-wall has occured. This thing is winding tight. Probably will under go through an eye replacement cycle soon... still don't think it will weaken it a lot. I too, am curious as to what the plane will find when it arrives.

In my last post I meant to say that "If I lived in Cancun I would be very worried." I'm not the best typist in the world.
I concur that on her current course (WNW), Emily will generally give Grand Cayman just a brush by -- however, like you said -- it's WAY too close at this point.