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Western Caribbean disturbance moving over the Yucatan

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:01 PM GMT on October 04, 2008

Heavy thunderstorm activity in association with a broad area of low pressure over the Western Caribbean remains disorganized today. Visible satellite loops show a modest area of heavy thunderstorms, with no sign of organization or a surface circulation. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed no signs of a surface circulation, either. Wind shear is moderate, in the 10-15 knot range.

Figure 1. Current satellite image of the Western Caribbean. Image credit: NOAA.

The disturbance is drifting westward, and should move over northern Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula today before it can develop into a tropical depression. These areas can expect heavy rains of 2-4 inches today through Sunday from the disturbance. NHC is currently giving it a low (<20% chance) of developing into a tropical depression.

Elsewhere in the tropics, the NOGAPS model is forecasting the possible formation of a tropical depression off the coast of Nicaragua on Thursday, while the GFS model thinks something might develop off the coast of Africa Thursday. It's a little late to be getting an African storms developing, so I doubt the GFS forecast. However, we'll need to watch the Western Caribbean over the coming week.

Links to follow
Wundermap for the Western Caribbean

Hurricane Ike relief efforts
When a major hurricane hits, relief efforts are always confused and don't reach many areas with great needs. Thus, a group of wunderground bloggers mobilized the day after Ike hit to help out. Their goal was to provide immediate help where traditional aid efforts were coming short, with a focus on providing equipment for people with disabilities and a full spectrum of relief supplies to smaller communities often neglected. Traditional, professional relief efforts are weighed down by bureaucracy and cannot respond as nimbly as smaller, grass-roots relief efforts can. I believe our dollars have been well-spent by the relief effort organized by our own Patrap, Presslord, and Stormjunkie, under the banner of Portlight Strategies, Inc. I encourage you to donate to the cause, or the traditional charity organization of your choice.

Here's a breakdown of how much money has been donated, and how much spent. Figures are rounded to the nearest $100. More details can be found on StormJunkie's blog:

Total money donated: $31,200 (about 400 donors)
Total money spent so far: $10,350
Total money in the portlight.org checking account: $21,000
--$9,000 in escrow for legal defense
--$12,000 available for immediate relief operations
Total money in the original Paypal account set up by Patrap: $1000
Total money in the new Paypal account set up by Presslord: $250

Here's how the $10350 has been spent:

WalMart - $2000 - supplies
Costco - $1000 - supplies
Patrick Pearson (Patrap) - $1000 (fuel, rental costs for a truck)
Truck from Charleston - $1500 - fuel
Florida supply truck - $2100 - escort, credentialing, fuel, vehicle repair, lodging
Crew food,lodging, transport home - $1000
Truck rental, gas for truck from Atlanta - $1750

The biggest coup for the effort came when portlight arranged to get about $150,000 worth of medical equipment donated to the cause. Rob Ingham (AKA Rainman32) and Roger Knight (AKA NLimbo) took a rented truck to Atlanta, grabbed the gear, and delivered it to Houston. In the shipment:

Four Gaylord boxes medical supplies
-Soft casts
-various catheter kits
-catheter bags
-oxygen tubing kits
-other misc. medical supplies
13 hospital bed mattresses and pressure pads
2 Gaylord boxes of sanitized walkers (20 per box)
4 Gaylord boxes of unsanitized walkers (20 per box)
2 pallets with two electric wheelchairs each (4)
100 pairs of crutches
30 bedside commodes sanitized
6 gerry chairs

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.