WunderBlog Archive » Category 6™

Category 6 has moved! See the latest from Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson here.

Noel chugging along over Cuba

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 8:18 PM GMT on October 30, 2007

Tropical Storm Noel is headed slightly north of due west across Cuba, and there are no signs that the storm will pop out over water today. Noel's heaviest rains are currently over the central Bahamas, where rain rates as high as 1/2 inch per hour are occurring. Satellite estimates put total rainfall amounts in the Bahamas at up to eight inches so far from Noel. Cuba has avoided Noel's heaviest rains, receiving no more than three inches.

Noel's heaviest rains have fallen over the southern coast of the Dominican Republic just west of the capital of Santo Domingo, where up to 17 inches have fallen (Figure 1). A nation-wide power outage knocked out power to all of the Dominican Republic for two hours yesterday, and flooding damage is reportedly heavy. Haiti has fared better, with peak rainfall totals of 7-10 inches in southeast Haiti near the Dominican Republic border. The sun has emerged in many locales on the island, but many areas in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic can expect to receive another 2-4 inches before the rains finally subside Wednesday night. These rains will cause very dangerous flash floods, particularly in Haiti, where deforestation has left only 1.4% of the original forest cover remaining. Media reports put the death toll so far in the Dominican Republic at 20, with 20 more missing, and this toll is almost certain to go higher. Noel is the deadliest tropical cyclone to affect the Dominican Republic since Hurricane Georges hit Hispaniola in 1998, killing 380 Dominicans and causing over $1 billion in damage to the county.

Figure 1. Satellite estimated rainfall for October 26-30, as estimated by the NASA TRMM satellite. At least 1-3 more inches of rain have fallen across Hispaniola since this image was created. Image credit: NASA.

Links to follow for Noel
Satellite loop
Camaguey, Cuba radar.
Google Maps interface, zoomed in on Canagua, Cuba

The forecast
Satellite loops show Noel's surface circulation is inland over Cuba, but the storm's mid-level center is spinning just off the coast, about 60 miles east-northeast of the surface center. How quickly these two centers can rejoin will determine how quickly Noel can re-intensify. The latest computer model runs from 12Z this morning are in good agreement that Noel will remain over Cuba until Wednesday morning, then pop off the coast and recurve sharply to the north, just offshore the coast of South Florida. None of the computer models show a landfall in South Florida. Passage over Cuba has severely weakened Noel, and it is looking very unlikely Noel will be stronger than a 55 mph tropical storm until it moves well past Florida and the Bahamas. The official NHC forecast still looks reasonable, with Noel passing 50-200 miles off the coast of South Florida Thursday morning as a weak but strengthening tropical storm, with top winds of 40-50 mph. Winds will probably be sustained at 20-30 mph with gusts to 40 mph along the coast of Florida on Thursday morning, when Noel makes its closest approach to Florida. Florida will be on the dry side of Noel, thanks to upper level winds from the west that will be creating about 20 knots of wind shear over the storm. Expect occasional heavy rain showers with rain amounts totaling 1-3 inches if you live along the Southeast Florida coast. Most of Noel's heavy rains should stay offshore.

I'll have an update Halloween morning.

Jeff Masters

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