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Omar steadily strengthening

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 7:45 PM GMT on October 15, 2008

Hurricane Omar is steadily intensifying as it heads northeast towards an encounter with the Virgin Islands and northern Lesser Antilles early Thursday morning. The latest center fix from the Hurricane Hunters at 3:23 pm EDT put Omar's pressure at 973 mb, a 12 mb drop in six hours, and a drop of 5 mb in just the past two hours. The surface winds measured by the SFMR instrument were in the 85-90 mph range. Omar's current rapid pressure fall will lead to an increase in winds to Category 2 strength late tonight. The Hurricane Hunters noted that the eyewall was open to the southwest, and this is also apparent by examining Puerto Rico radar (Figure 1). Omar is still having trouble with wind shear of 15 knots from the west, and the eye has been visible only intermittently today. It appears that Omar is trying to build a new eyewall inside the current eyewall. It is unlikely Omar will be able to reach Category 3 strength until after this new eyewall is built, a process that will probably not be complete until after the hurricane passes through the islands.


Figure 1. Current radar image of Omar.

The forecast for Omar
There is no change to the forecast track, with the models tightly clustered along a path that would take Omar through the Virgin Islands early Thursday morning. Wind shear is about 15 knots, and is forecast to remain in the moderate 10-20 knot range until landfall. This should allow steady strengthening for the remainder of today. Some dry continental air has arrived on the northwest side of Omar, and I expect that this dry air will begin to penetrate into the vortex by early Thursday morning, slowing down intensification. The latest 12Z (8 am EDT) intensity forecasts from the various models have quite a spread, with the HWRF forecasting a 70 mph tropical storm at landfall; the SHIPS model, a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds; and the GFDL model, a borderline Category 2 or 3 hurricane with winds of 110-115 mph. The official NHC forecast of a Category 2 hurricane at landfall seems like the best compromise. There is about a 20% chance Omar will be a Category 3 hurricane at landfall.

Links to follow
Puerto Rico radar
Eastern Caribbean buoy 42059
San Juan, Puerto Rico weather
St. Croix, Virgin Islands weather
Martinique radar

Tropical Depression 16 off the coast of Honduras
There has been little change to Tropical Depression 16, near the Honduras/Nicaragua border. Satellite loops show that TD 16 is a very large but poorly organized storm, with several far-flung spiral bands that are spreading heavy thunderstorms over a wide area of the Western Caribbean and Central America. The center of circulation is broad and difficult to pin down, but appears to be over the water, within 50 miles of the coast of Honduras.

The forecast for TD 16
The system is expected to track very close to the coast of Honduras, and this proximity to land should limit intensification potential. None of the models are calling for TD 16 to become any stronger than a 40 mph tropical storm. Given the storm's current disorganization, I doubt that it will ever become a tropical storm. However, the depression is going to bring potentially dangerous amounts of rainfall capable of causing flash flooding and mudslides.

Hurricane Ike relief efforts
There continues to be an urgent need for relief supplies in the wake of Hurricane Ike. I recommend contributions to the portlight.org charity fund, formed by wunderground memebrs to serve the needs of those often bypassed by traditional relief efforts. Contributions are fully tax-deductible, and more details can be found at StormJunkie's blog.

Jeff Masters
ts omar aruba
ts omar aruba

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

1001. usa777
Quoting Orcasystems:


Yes, the CMC

Thanks Orca, I just didn't remember seeing anything on the models. Omar turned into a nasty little sucker. Great to see it threaded the needle.
Well here on Culebra we lucked out, most we saw of Omar is 25 knots of wind. Hope everyone on the other islands made it through okay!
Quoting usa777:

Thanks Orca, I just didn't remember seeing anything on the models. Omar turned into a nasty little sucker. Great to see it threaded the needle.


Thats the only part I did get right. You could see it was running east of track and cone the entire time.
Good morning all!

St. Thomas reporting in. I never really lost power except for a couple blinks around 1:00 AST. Looking around my yard I see a lot of leaves down but nothing too major. I'll get out in a few hours and take a drive and see what's going on elsewhere but it seems pretty obvious to me we dodged a major bullet on this one.

I count myself as very lucky right now.
1005. ERPazo
Hey everyone, thought I'd chime in and give you all a perspective from a little further south in the Leewards.

I'm in Dominica, just south of Guadaloupe. Today the Prime Minister asked for a nationwide closing of all business effective at 10 AM due to storm-surge effects and mud-slides, which have blocked many parts of the main road on the island. We are currently receiving bands of heavy rain on the West side of the island, which lasted throughout the night, and the surf has been heavy and elevated for the last 24-36 hours.

I hope that the people in the VI and further north faired well, and thankfully this was a fast mover.
1006. WxLogic
Glad to hear that most of the people in the Leeward Islands and Northern Islands are doing well and thankfully nothing major has happened... knock on wood.
Thanks for the post storm reports. Be careful out there.
1008. Bonedog
Thanks for checking in folks. Stay safe out there
Good Morning Orca
Looks like a yuckey day in the Northwest...
BTW... I sent "my man" out to your place for a job interview around lunch yesterday.....were you able to get him a position?
Quoting caribbeansail:
Well here on Culebra we lucked out, most we saw of Omar is 25 knots of wind. Hope everyone on the other islands made it through okay!

Mornin' Carib....glad you faired well...Just curious, does the elkhorn coral still look as grand around you as it did back in the early 80's ?
Quoting MissNadia:
Good Morning Orca
Looks like a yuckey day in the Northwest...
BTW... I sent "my man" out to your place for a job interview around lunch yesterday.....were you able to get him a position?


Not here, but I am pretty sure he would fit right in a 77WABC

Your right about the weather, and it looks like its going to get a lot worse before it gets better
Omar may be are last name storm for 2008 if you look at the pass name storms it stoped at the O storm
1013. WxLogic
Quoting Tazmanian:
Omar may be are last name storm for 2008 if you look at the pass name storms it stoped at the O storm


You would think... but based on NHC there's an average of 61 Tropical Waves and we had so far 57... but anything goes... we'll see what happens from now until Nov. 30th.
Quoting Orcasystems:


Not here, but I am pretty sure he would fit right in a 77WABC

Your right about the weather, and it looks like its going to get a lot worse before it gets better

I have a kid living across the straits in Sequim so keep an eye on the wx..
1015. Prgal
New blog
Quoting theshepherd:

Mornin' Carib....glad you faired well...Just curious, does the elkhorn coral still look as grand around you as it did back in the early 80's ?


Dunno, I was not here in the 80s! There is a lot of dead coral though. Overall though the coral here is in better shape then the USVI and BVI though.