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Noel's death toll rises to 81; storm heads north through the Bahamas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:49 PM GMT on November 01, 2007

Tropical Storm Noel is finally on its way north, after a long stay by the coast of Cuba. The latest center report from the Hurricane Hunters at 9:18am EDT indicated Noel was not strengthening--the pressure remained at 995 mb, and no winds above 60 mph were measured. Satellite loops show an impressive burst of thunderstorms developing on Noel's east side. The latest Hurricane Hunter report showed that Noel's center jumped about 30 miles eastward to relocate itself under these thunderstorms. This jump lessens the chance that southeast Florida coast will experience sustained winds exceeding 30 mph.

The latest GFDL, SHIPS, and HWRF intensity model runs show little change in Noel's strength, and keep the storm's top winds near 60 mph today. Wind shear is about 20 knots over the storm, and is expected to increase above 30 knots tonight, so it is unlikely Noel will intensify into a hurricane. On Friday, the models agree that Noel will transition to a powerful extratropical storm. Noel is expected to bring winds of 55-65 mph to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on Saturday. Noel's remains may pass close enough to Nantucket and Cape Cod, Massachusetts to bring sustained winds of 40-50 mph there, according to the latest runs of the HWRF and GFDL models. The GFS model takes Noel farther from Cape Cod, and does not bring tropical storm force winds to Massachusetts.

Noel remains a prodigious rain-maker, and produced over 16 inches of rain in 24 hours over ocean areas near the central Bahamas yesterday (Figure 1). Rainfall totals in the Bahamas should range between 10-15 inches by the time Noel departs. Cuba has fared better, receiving no more than 6 inches of rain. However, the soils were already saturated on the island from previous rains, and flooding has forced many people from their homes, damaging at least 1,000 buildings. Heavy rains on Jamaica created a landslide that killed one person yesterday.

Figure 1. Satellite estimated rainfall totals for the 24 hours ending at 2am EDT Thursday November 1. About 16 inches (400 mm, white colors) fell over ocean areas just south of the central Bahamas. Rainfall rates as high as 1.2"/hour were observed this morning. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Noel's death toll
Another 1-3 inches of rain fell in the past 24 hours over hard-hit Hispaniola, where the death toll is 80. At least 24 people died in Haiti, where deforestation has led to severe flooding problems. In the Dominican Republic, the death toll stands at 56, with many more missing. At least 6,000 buildings were damaged, and 10 bridges washed out. As many as 39 communities remain isolated due to collapsed bridges and washed out roads, and the power is off to over 3 million of the nation's 9.4 million people. The Dominican meteorological service reports that 21.65" (550 mm) of rain fell at Padre Las Casas in the mountains of the central Dominican Republic as of 8am EDT Wednesday. Another 1-2 inches of rain may fall over the island before Noel's rains finally cease. 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. The death toll for Noel makes it the second deadliest storm this hurricane season, behind Hurricane Felix, which killed 133 people in Nicaragua and Honduras.

Links to follow for Noel
Satellite loop
Camaguey, Cuba radar.
Long range radar out of Miami, FL
Nassau, Bahamas current weather
Google Maps interface, zoomed in on Nassau, Bahamas

Impact on Florida
There is no change to the forecast for Florida. Noel will pass well east of the state, bringing winds of 20-30 mph with gusts to 40 mph along the coast of Florida today. Florida will be on the dry side of Noel, thanks to upper level winds from the west that will be creating about 20-25 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. The main hazard from Noel will be beach erosion, thanks to the 10-foot seas expected to pound area beaches. Wind and seas will subside Friday morning as Noel pulls rapidly away from Florida.

I'll have an update this afternoon.

Jeff Masters
Barely Standing
Barely Standing
This is what is left of the bridge connecting Baitoa to Sabana Iglesia. This pillar is being beaten by the torrents of water let loose from the Tavera Dam upstream.
Muddy Slide
Muddy Slide
This is the spillway of the Taveras Dam. It almost looks fun! We then hiked down to take the 1st picture under the plume of water shooting 50 ft. in the air.

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