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Gonzalo Near Hurricane Strength; 24 Dead, $1.6 Billion in Damage in India From Hudhud

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:40 PM GMT on October 13, 2014

Hurricane warnings are flying in the British Virgin Islands as strengthening Tropical Storm Gonzalo marches west-northwest at 10 mph though the northernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. The storm passed over Antigua Island between 10 am - 11 am AST on Monday, and sustained winds at Antigua hit 45 mph at 7 am AST before the station stopped reporting. NHC is still able to get wind information from the island, and the island reported a sustained wind of 67 mph gusting to 88 mph late Monday morning. Winds at nearby Barbuda were sustained at 43 mph gusting to 61 mph at 1 pm AST. Satellite loops showed on Monday morning that Gonzalo was growing increasingly well-organized, with more low-level spiral bands and heavy thunderstorm activity. A Central Dense Overcast (CDO) of high cirrus clouds was apparent on visible satellite imagery, the sign of an intensifying tropical storm about to reach hurricane status. Guadaloupe radar showed that Gonzalo was close to closing off an eye, which should allow for more rapid intensification of the storm by Monday evening. Water vapor satellite loops showed a good degree of dry air surrounding Gonzalo, but with wind shear a light 5 - 10 knots, this dry air was not substantially impeding development. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) were warm, near 29°C (84°F). The 8 am Monday run of the SHIPS model predicted that conditions would remain favorable for development for the next four days, with light to moderate wind shear and SSTs near 29°C (84°F). Gonzalo should steadily intensify through the week, and has the potential to be a major Category 3 hurricane by Friday. The models are unified in showing that the storm will get caught up in a trough of low pressure and turn to the northwest on Tuesday and north by Wednesday, though our two top models, the GFS and European, are widely divergent on their prediction on how fast Gonzalo will get pulled to the north towards Bermuda. The GFS predicts that the storm will make its closest pass by the island on Friday night, while the European model delays Gonzalo's arrival until Sunday.

Figure 1. Guadaloupe radar image of Tropical Storm Gonzalo taken at 11:15 am EDT October 13, 2014. Gonzalo was close to closing off an eye, which should allow for more rapid intensification of the storm by Monday evening. Image credit: Meteo France.

Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Storm Gonzalo taken at approximately 1 pm EDT October 13, 2014, as the storm was passing through the Lesser Antilles Islands. At the time, Gonzalo had top winds of 70 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Fay dying
Tropical Storm Fay was racing east at 29 mph late Monday morning out to sea after battering Bermuda on Sunday with winds close to hurricane force. Sustained winds at the Bermuda Airport reached 61 mph, with a gust to 82 mph, at 7:34 am local time Sunday morning. The airport recorded 1.85" of rain from the storm. Fay is being absorbed by a cold front and will likely be declared post-tropical by Monday evening.

Figure 3. MODIS satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Hudhud taken at approximately 1 am EDT October 12, 2014, as the storm was making landfall near Visakhapatnam, India. At the time, Hudhud was a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Heavy damage in India from Category 4 Hudhud
Tropical Cyclone Hudhud has dissipated after it powered ashore near Visakhapatnam in the Andhra Pradesh state of India at 05 UTC (3 am EDT) Sunday as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 135 mph. At least 24 deaths are being blamed on the cyclone: 21 in Andhra Pradesh, and 3 in the neighboring Odisha state. Preliminary damage estimates are at least $1.64 billion (Rs 10,000 crore), with the heaviest damage in Visakhapatnam, a port city of 2 million, which received a direct hit. One-minute resolution wind observations from Visakhapatnam showed a peak sustained wind of 73 mph at 9:44 am local time Sunday, with a peak gust of 119 mph at 10:30 am. The station stopped reporting data at that time. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, Hudhud's preliminary $1.6 billion price tag would make it the 2nd most expensive tropical cyclone in India's history, behind the October 28, 1999 Orissa Cyclone, which killed 9,843 people and did $2.5 billion in damage (1999 dollars.) India has had just one other billion-dollar tropical cyclone disaster, the November 8, 1996 cyclone that killed 708 and did $1.5 billion in damage (1996 dollars.) Just last month, India had its most expensive natural disaster in history, when torrential monsoon rains of over 12" (305 mm) lashed the India-Pakistan border region of Kashmir and Jammu Provinces on September 3 - 7, triggering devastating floods that swept through the mountainous region, killing over 600 people and doing $16+ billion in damage, as estimated by insurance broker Aon Benfield. India's previous most expensive natural disaster was the $11.6 billion (2014 dollars) in damage from the July 1993 monsoon floods.

Figure 4. Heavy rains from Vongfong as seen on Japanese radar at 22:45 local time Monday (9:45 am EDT.) Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.

Vongfong drenching Japan
Tropical Storm Vongfong made landfall at 8:30 am JST Monday near Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA.) They rated it a Category 1 typhoon with 75 mph at landfall, while the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) rated Vongfong a tropical storm with 60 mph winds. Monday morning at 8 am EDT, Vongfong was racing northeast at 31 mph, and was centered about 100 miles west of Tokyo. Vongfong has injured at least 61 people in Japan, and dumped heavy rains of 1 - 2 feet. Japanese radar shows that Vongfong is still a major rain-maker, and the storm will likely dump up to a foot of rain over portions of Japan over the next day. Evacuation advisories were issued in populated areas flanking the Mount Ontake volcano, which fatally erupted two weeks ago, killing 56 people. Heavy rains from Vongfong may cause mudslides caked with volcanic ash along the flanks of the volcano.

Hawaii needs to pay attention to tropical disturbance 95C
In the Central Pacific, an area of disturbed weather (Invest 95C) located about 1000 miles east-southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday morning is headed west-northwest at 10 mph towards Hawaii. Satellite loops show that 95C is well-organized with an increasing amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. The 8 am EDT Monday run of the SHIPS model predicted that wind shear would be low, 5 - 10 knots, and ocean temperature would be warm, 27 - 28.5°C (81 - 83°F) for the next five days along 95C's path, but that the atmosphere would dry considerably. These conditions favor development. In their 8 am EDT Monday Tropical Weather Outlook, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center gave 95C 2-day odds of development of 80%. Our top two models for predicting hurricane tracks, the GFS and European models, both show 95C passing very close to the Big Island of Hawaii on Saturday, and it is possible that the island could experience tropical storm conditions for the second time this year.

Figure 5. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has put portions of seven Mississippi Valley states in their "Moderate Risk" for severe weather on Monday.

Moderate risk of severe weather today
An unusually amplified jet stream pattern over the center of the U.S. will bring severe weather on Monday. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has put portions seven states along the Mississippi River in their "Moderate Risk" for severe weather, with damaging winds from severe thunderstorms the primary threat--though a few tornadoes and some large hail will also likely occur. A suspected tornado ripped through Ashdown, Arkansas early Monday morning, killing one person and injuring three others.

Hurricane expert Steve Gregory has his take on the tropics in a <

Jeff Masters


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