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Tropical Storm Agatha one of the top ten deadliest Eastern Pacific storms on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:56 PM GMT on May 31, 2010

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season of 2010 is off to a bad start. The mounting death toll from Central America's Tropical Storm Agatha has made that storm one of the top ten deadliest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones on record. Agatha was a tropical storm for just 12 hours, making landfall Saturday on the Pacific coast of Guatemala as a 45 mph tropical storm. However, the storm brought huge amounts of moisture inland that continue to be wrung out as heavy rains by the high mountains of Guatemala and the surrounding nations of Central America. So far, flooding and landslides have killed at least 83 people in Guatemala, 13 in neighboring El Salvador, and one in Honduras. Guatemala is also suffering from the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala, which began erupting four days ago. At least three people have been killed by the volcano, located about 25 miles south of the capital, Guatemala City. The volcano has destroyed 800 homes with lava and brought moderate ash falls to the capital.


Figure 1. Flood damage in Zunil, Quetzaltenango, in Guatemala on May 29, 2010, after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Agatha. Image credit: Sergio Huertas, climaya.com

Agatha is the deadliest flooding disaster in Guatemala since Hurricane Stan of 2005, which killed 1,513. In a bizarre coincidence, that storm also featured a major volcanic eruption at the same time, when El Salvador's Santa Ana volcano blew its top during the height of Stan's rains in in that country on October 1. The eruption killed two and injured dozens, and worsened the mud flow damage from Stan's rains. The deadliest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record for Guatemala was Hurricane Paul of 1982, which made landfall in Guatemala as a tropical depression. Flooding from Paul's rains killed 620 people in Guatemala.


Figure 2. Two-day rainfall totals for Central America as estimated by satellite, for the period 7pm EDT Friday May 28 - 7pm EDT Sunday May 30, 2010. Rainfall amounts of 350 mm (14 inches, orange colors) were indicated for portions of Guatemala. The Guatemala government reported that rainfall exceeded 36 inches in some regions. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Oil spill update
Light onshore winds out of the south to southwest are expected to blow over the northern Gulf of Mexico all week, resulting increased threats of oil to the Alabama and Mississippi barrier islands, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA. These persistent southwesterly winds will likely bring oil very close to the Florida Panhandle by next weekend.

Oil spill resources
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post Wednesday with answers to some of the common questions I get about the spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
NOAA trajectory forecasts
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command web site
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Surface current forecasts from NOAA's HYCOM model
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and its Aftermath
What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

Jeff Masters

Hurricane

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

aspectre,

BP announced a few days ago that they had suspended drilling the second relief well in order to prep its BOP for possible use atop the blown-out well's BOP in case the LMRP attempt fails.
Quoting IKE:


Same here.

Looks like he/she has sawed through the lower pipe.

Imagine the firmness of those teeth on that saw blade.


Diamond blade, and they don't have to worry about heat. Just hope they don't get it stuck or bound up if the pipe sags on it. BTW, wonder how hard it is to change the blade…
Quoting DestinJeff:






Jeff, Did you see the waterspout this morning? I am on vacation in Destin and I took this a little while ago from my balcony.

Photobucket
2004. Drakoen
2005. Levi32
Quoting Chicklit:
In other news...(from the 8 a.m. NHC Discussion)
TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 78W S OF 12N MOVING W 10-15 KT. WAVE IS OVER THE SW CARIBBEAN AND MOVING INTO THE E PACIFIC REGION.
SCATTERED STRONG CONVECTION IS WITHIN1 75/90 NM ALONG THE COAST OF COLOMBIA AND W PANAMA BETWEEN 73W-78W.
Looking at shear, vorticity, upper and lower level divergence/convergence, seems to be a lot going on in that area right now. Would love to hear the technical analyses.


Yeah I've been keeping an eye on that. The front-running wave mentioned in the discussion is starting to interact with a newly-reformed monsoon trough, which just now got reestablished near Panama after being severely disrupted last week. This interaction is causing low-mid level rotation just south of Panama. Because of this most of the action should stay Pacific-side, but the NOGAPS has been consistently bringing the next wave, currently over Venezuela, north of Panama and dragging a low into the southern Caribbean where it strengthens it. Not sure how much I buy into this yet, but I'll be watching it.

It's also worth noting that even if the NOGAPS is correct, such a low would move WNW into central America, not north towards anywhere else.
Quoting AussieStorm:

I would think the GOM would be much colder due to the cold winter you guys had, that's why many places got snow, Moisture from the GOM cause of no storms in 2009 hurricane season. Which mean's they had a bit of catching up to do, but they have well and truly caught up now.


The gulf surface water is affected by winds and cold northerly fronts dropping through, but latent heat is stored in the deep layers of the gulf that are reached only by the stirring of large tropical systems. This latent heat when, not dissipated, allows a quick rebound of SST's as we have seen this season.
International group from HPC is forecasting MJO to be positive (supressed convection) for most of June in the Carribean.

Excerpt:
THIS COINCIDES WITH ARRIVAL OF POSITIVE MJO ANOMALIES ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN/NORTHERN SOUTH AMERICA LATER THIS WEEK...WHICH ARE FORECAST TO DOMINATE DURING MOST OF THE MONTH OF JUNE.

Link
Quoting SiestaCpl:

?????
Mornin'...er, Evening...ah, G'day Aussie!
Quoting AussieStorm:

?????


hehehe slow rebound on the system left my corrected post in limbo...
I know this is lookin wayyy out but does anyone know when the shear over GOM is expected to drop,,,,or how the bermuda high is expected to establish this summer?? Thanks for any input.
2014. Drakoen
NCEP has the disturbance at 1012mb...lol
Met Service of Jamaica website

June 1, 2010 at 5:00 a.m.

LOCAL WEATHER FORECAST

SIGNIFICANT FEATURE…High Pressure Ridge across the central Caribbean, including Jamaica.

Comment…
The High Pressure Ridge is expected to remain across the island throughout week.

TODAY'S FORECAST
This Morning… Partly cloudy across northern parishes, mainly sunny elsewhere.

This Afternoon…Isolated showers and thunderstorms across sections western and central parishes.

Tonight… Mainly fair.

3-DAYS FORECAST (starting tomorrow)
Wed…. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms mainly over central and western parishes..
Thurs.... Isolated afternoon showers mainly over central and western parishes..
Fri…. Partly cloudy

Regionally…Tropical Waves continue to migrate across the southern Caribbean.

rlb
2011. Good one!
Quoting NOLA2005:
aspectre,

BP announced a few days ago that they had suspended drilling the second relief well in order to prep its BOP for possible use atop the blown-out well's BOP in case the LMRP attempt fails.


They announced today they resumed the 2nd well
Link. Also announced additional plans Link
2018. myway
Anyone see the photos of the sinkhole in Guatemala city? Scary stuff.
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


They announced today they resumed the 2nd well
Link. Also announced additional plans Link


Excellent news that they have not quit the 2nd well.
Quoting DestinJeff:


nice shot. i didn't see that, bust must have been on the south end of the massive rainstorm that rolled through Okaloosa county around 8:30


It was. I'm sure this is a common occurrence here in Destin but I had to take a pic. Sometimes I will see these waterspouts when I go fishing back in Louisiana but usually I don't have a camera on me. Believe it or not it briefly touched the water about a minute later but by the time I got my cam out it was dissipating.
Quoting RitaEvac:


Got that right!
Saw feed -

Must be incredibly hard to judge angles. The camera has no depth...despite its depth.
Quoting Drakoen:
NCEP has the disturbance at 1012mb...lol


LOL!
2001 NOLA2005 "BP announced a few days ago that they had suspended drilling the second relief well..."

No followup explanation necessary. BP regularly suspends drilling in each well individually to cement in the latest casement.
Quoting mikatnight:
Saw feed -

Must be incredibly hard to judge angles. The camera has no depth...despite its depth.


Just remember to wear your safety glasses when working with any power tools...

Isn't that the guy off This Old House?
Quoting RitaEvac:
Isn't that the guy off This Old House?


Norm Abram.. bingo! He's always telling people to remember their safety glasses...
Quoting RitaEvac:
Isn't that the guy off This Old House?


That's a Yankee...
2030. Levi32
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
International group from HPC is forecasting MJO to be positive (supressed convection) for most of June in the Carribean.

Excerpt:
THIS COINCIDES WITH ARRIVAL OF POSITIVE MJO ANOMALIES ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN/NORTHERN SOUTH AMERICA LATER THIS WEEK...WHICH ARE FORECAST TO DOMINATE DURING MOST OF THE MONTH OF JUNE.

Link


The real deal will likely start around the July 4th holiday, as the next strong MJO upward motion pulse will be arriving near the end of June/early July.
What size blade is that?
Belize, BH (Airport)

Humidity: 84%
Dew Point: 79 °F
Wind: 4 mph from the NNW
Pressure: 29.92 in (Steady)
Heat Index: 96 °F
Visibility: 6.2 miles
Quoting TampaTom:


Norm Abram.. bingo! He's always telling people to remember their safety glasses...


He's gotten old
Quoting CycloneOz:


That's a Yankee...


nice... LOL
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
International group from HPC is forecasting MJO to be positive (supressed convection) for most of June in the Carribean.

Excerpt:
THIS COINCIDES WITH ARRIVAL OF POSITIVE MJO ANOMALIES ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN/NORTHERN SOUTH AMERICA LATER THIS WEEK...WHICH ARE FORECAST TO DOMINATE DURING MOST OF THE MONTH OF JUNE.

Link


I have forgot what does a positive MJO mean?
TIA,
Sheri
cut through!
NEW BLOG!!!!
Not sure when the A-B high will finnally "set" for the peak of the season but current ridging continues in the vicinity of Bermuda......That will be a major factor in the tracks come the CV portion of the season and we will have to see whether these storms will have a tendancy to plow through the Lesser Antilles in the the Caribbean, or, take a more Northen jog towards the Greater Antilles/North Caribbean on the way towards Florida and the Gulf......The anticipation for this potentially very active season is quite nerveracking......Not looking forward to August and September but all we can do really is to prepare and hope for the best for your particular location.....
My old buddy TampaTom! How you been, man?
Quoting CycloneOz:


That's a Yankee...


LOL you are too Much....
Good Morning My Friend....
I did want to tell you I don't feel to bad about last week because the Vortex Team has been out the chasing for 5 weeks now and have only gotten a few Tornados....
But yesterday that was a cool Tornado in the Southeast Colorado and Oklahoma area... Just a few miles where we met...

Oh yea welcome to "Hurricane Season" this will be one "Wild Ride" thats for sure

Taco :o)
Quoting Floodman:
My old buddy TampaTom! How you been, man?


Busy as heck, my friend. Back from the Governor's conference last week. One heck of a time...

We also picked up an award down there.. we took for best public information program in the state for our Hurricanes for Kids program. That was a blast.

Now, it's June 1, and we're hard at work again...
2043. MTWX
Quoting RitaEvac:


He's gotten old

Didnt Bob Villa used to do that show??
Quoting CycloneOz:


That's a Yankee...




Actually a Newenglanda,I believe,lol;)
aspectre "Will you guys jut CUT IT OUT? At least think for a minute. [...]"

1995 SiestaCpl "Please understand that the question is out there, not that i endorse it. I have been working in the mining industry internationally for 28 years and I do know well the need for cost recovery and I have witnessed poor decision making based on the cash recovery need. Patrap's comments clarified and dismissed the subject excellently. No vitirol is needed in posts here."

My apologies. I hadn't seen Patrap's response, nor your acquiescence to his answer.

My overly impolitic introductory sentence came from the fact that I do have STRONG feelings that things are BAD enough without (essentially) adding a criminal conspiracy by BP to deliberately prevent the catastrophe from being stopped.
And that things are complicated enough without introducing conspiracy rumors (and politics) into (darn near every) serious discussion about what is occurring.

Reminds me of people finding certain trolling comments on this blog to be highly distasteful... then reposting the comments in full. If ya don't like it, at least don't make the rest of us have to scroll through it again.
So basicly, you wrongly got the brunt of my displeasure with those who insist on echoing trolls, when by this forum rules, they shouldn't even be acknowledging trollish statements.

Once again, I extend my apologies.
Quick look-in, all.

Quoting SiestaCpl:


.
Hey there! I asked in an earlier blog about the snake in your avatar - what type is it?
Wow.

Storm Opens Giant Sinkhole in Guatemala

AOL News (June 1) -- It looks like a gateway to hell. A 200-foot-deep sinkhole in the north of Guatemala City suddenly opened up in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Agatha, pulling a three-story building and a residential home into the bowels of the earth.

The colossal chasm is just the latest sign of the chaos caused by this weekend's wild and violent weather, which killed at least 145 people across Central America. Agatha dumped more than three feet of rain on Guatemala and El Salvador over the weekend, causing rivers to burst their banks and hills to collapse into floods of slurry. The sinkhole, a nearly perfect circular shaft wider than a street intersection, appeared soon after the storm stopped lashing the capital.
Short horror film

Queue the background music - shark music from Jaws.. dawn up, dawn up... then screeching sounds from an Alfred Hitchcock movie...

Suddenly LARGE letters start flashing...

HURRICANE SEASON HAS BEGUN!!!!

Queue deranged laughter.
2049. Dakster
Quoting mikatnight:


Diamond blade, and they don't have to worry about heat. Just hope they don't get it stuck or bound up if the pipe sags on it. BTW, wonder how hard it is to change the blade…


Stuck would be interesting to say the least. (Another robot to cut from the other side...) Changing the blade is probably not that difficult. Pull it up, change the blade, drop it back down. Might take some time for the 1 mile journey each way.

Howver, I bet they are not using your typical Home Depot diamond blade either...


Soon TS PHET will be declared Cyclon CAT1, in the image seems like MW EYE scene.

03APHET.65kts-974mb-172N-618E

Last ADT

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 01 JUN 2010 Time : 190000 UTC
Lat : 17:18:09 N Lon : 61:59:44 E


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.3 / 968.0mb/ 74.6kt