Tomas gradually strengthening; 14 dead in St. Lucia from the storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 02:58 PM GMT on November 02, 2010

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The islands of St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines continue to assess damage and clean up after Hurricane Tomas pounded the Lesser Antilles as a strengthening Category 1 hurricane with 90 - 95 mph winds on Saturday. St. Lucia was hardest hit, with fourteen people dead, many more missing, and damage estimated at $100 million--about 10% of the nation's GDP. Damage on neighboring St. Vincent was estimated at $62 million, which is 4% of that nation's GDP. The storm damaged 1,200 houses, and the northern half of the island, where most of the crops are, was badly hit, with no banana trees left standing and the plantain crop wiped out. Banana production employs 60% of the workforce on St. Vincent, and accounts for more than 50% of their exports. Also hard-hit was Barbados, where damage estimates are at $55 million, 1.5% of the nation's GDP. Tomas may be the most damaging storm to affect the island since Hurricane Janet of 1955. The havoc wreaked by Tomas in the Lesser Antilles makes is likely that the name Tomas will be retired from the list of active hurricane names in the Atlantic.


Figure 1. Torrential rains from Tomas triggered massive flooding on St. Lucia that destroyed several bridges and severely damaged roads. Image credit: St. Lucia Star.

Tomas gradually strengthening
Satellite loops of Tomas show a considerably more organized storm than yesterday, with a modest but increasing amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. However, low-level spiral bands are limited, and upper-level outflow is weak, and Tomas is not in danger of building an eyewall today. Curacao radar shows that the echoes from Tomas are disorganized, with no spiral banding apparent. Wind shear has declined to a moderate 10 -15 knots and the atmosphere in the Caribbean has moistened over the past day, allowing Tomas to re-organize. A hurricane hunter aircraft is on its way to Tomas this morning, and will have a better estimate of the storm's strength by early this afternoon.


Figure 2. Curacao radar at 10:07am EDT on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, showed a large area of rain associated with Tomas over the central Caribbean, but these echoes were poorly organized.

Track forecast for Tomas
The ridge of high pressure pushing Tomas to the west has weakened, allowing Tomas to slow down slightly to a forward speed of 10 mph this morning. This speed will decrease further to 5 mph tonight, as a trough of low pressure approaches the eastern U.S. and breaks down the ridge. By Wednesday, the trough to Tomas' north should be able to pull the storm to the northwest. Tomas' outer spiral bands will bring heavy rains to southwestern Haiti and eastern Jamaica beginning on Thursday night. The computer models have come into better agreement that Tomas will turn more to the north-northeast by Friday, with Haiti or Jamaica the most likely landfall locations. NHC is giving Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a 50% chance of receiving tropical storm force winds, and a 6% chance of hurricane force winds. These odds are 45% and 7%, respectively for Kingston, Jamaica, and 23% and 3% for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Tomas may stall
The models are increasingly suggesting the once Tomas begins moving to the north-northeast, the trough pulling the storm that direction will lift out, stranding Tomas in a region of weak steering currents. Tomas may then wander and dump heavy rains for several days, Saturday through Monday. Given recent model trends, I believe this is likely, but the exact location where Tomas might be stranded is uncertain. The NOGAPS model gives a nightmare scenario for Haiti, with Tomas remaining stationary just off the coast from Port-Au-Prince as a hurricane for many days. The UKMET stalls Tomas over the Turk and Caicos Islands, while the GFS, GFDL, and ECMWF models predict Tomas will stall several hundred miles north of Hispaniola and drift eastwards. It's reasonable to go with the model consensus and predict Tomas will pass over western Haiti and stall far enough north of the nation so that heavy rains will not linger over Hispaniola for many days. The uncertainties in the track forecast are greater than usual, though.

Intensity forecast for Tomas
Wind shear as diagnosed by the SHIPS model has dropped to the moderate range, 10 - 15 knots, and is predicted to stay low to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, for the remainder of the week. The relaxation of shear should allow Tomas to continue to re-organize over the next few days. Aiding this process will be an increasingly moist atmosphere. Dry air has decreased significantly over the past 24 hours, as seen on water vapor satellite imagery, and the models predict a very moist atmosphere will surround Tomas for the remainder of the week. With SSTs at a record warm 29.5°C and a very high ocean heat content, there is a substantial danger that Tomas will undergo a period of rapid intensification once it rebuilds its inner core and establishes an eyewall. This is not likely to happen today, but could occur as early as Wednesday night. This may give Tomas sufficient time to intensify into a major hurricane before landfall in Haiti or Jamaica, as predicted by the GFDL model. The most reasonable intensity forecast at this point is to call for a landfall on Friday at Category 2 strength, but Tomas could easily be anywhere from Category 1 to Category 3 hurricane strength on Friday. NHC is giving Tomas a 19% chance of reaching Category 3+ strength; I believe these odds are higher, 40%. With the atmosphere expected to be very moist, it is likely that Tomas will dump very heavy rains of 4 - 8 inches over much of Haiti, even if Tomas strikes as a tropical storm. Rains of this magnitude are capable of causing heavy loss of life due to extreme floods running down Haiti's deforested mountain slopes. Portlight.org is preparing to send their mobile kitchen with enough food to feed 500 people per day, if Tomas continues on its current forecast path.


Figure 3. Plot of all Category 1 and stronger hurricanes to pass within 50 miles of Barbados since reliable record keeping began in 1851. Image credit: NOAA Coastal Services Center.

Barbados hurricane history
Tomas is the strongest hurricane to affect Barbados since Category 3 Hurricane Allen of 1980, which passed just north of the island. Allen did $4 million in damage, compared to Tomas' $55 million. The deadliest hurricane in Barbados history was the Category 5 Great Hurricane of 1780, which killed approximately 4500 people on the island, and leveled every building, including the stone governor's mansion. The Great Hurricane of 1780 was also the Atlantic's deadliest hurricane of all-time, with 22,000 fatalities, mostly in the Lesser Antilles Islands.

Next update
I'll have an update Wednesday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Still very busy season, but not all doom as predicted.
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GOTTA GO, SEE EVERYONE NEXT SEASON! HOPEFULLY A NON EVENT FOR THE US AGAIN IN 2011! Prayers to the fish with ex Tomas.
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TOMAS REMNANT LOW AT 11 ADVISORY! WoW Totally Unpredicted. Just Shows that anything can happen in November, the bad storm that never hit Haiti, YES THAT IS GREAT NEWS!
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Happy Birthday StormPetrol! Wishing you many more.

I see there will be no painting blue today. That's good news. I guess the whispering worked! Keep whispering!

Have a good one.
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NEW BLOG
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555
Quoting Orcasystems:


When did they start selling Canadian beer at Talladega??

Morning Orca, If they sell it you can find it at Talladega, Heck even if they dont sell it you can find it there. LOL
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Complete Update

Die Tomas Die..


AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TSPIN BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
Member Since: Oktober 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Will the real Tomas please stand up?!

The blob of convection at 16N 73W, whatever you choose to call it, is uncomfortably close to Haiti. Even if it is just rain, they don't need it.

Meanwhile, the entities at 10N 57W and 9N 30W both bear watching, too; the first one has already had an intermittent CoC, and if it gets into lower shear, the Antilles could get it again.
Member Since: Juni 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 309
Quoting severstorm:
Morning everyone, Just got back from Talladega. What a race. Went from tornado warnings on tuesday to steller weather for the race. I got .42 of the liquid gold yesterday. First rain since late september.


When did they start selling Canadian beer at Talladega??
Member Since: Oktober 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Thomas looking a little fishy this morning. Somethings not jiving with the current loc, IMO.
Member Since: Januari 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
998. ackee
Quoting stormpetrol:

This loop show clearly the center the NHC is tracking around 13.5N/76.3W, I don't see a WNW movement at all due west IMO.Link
I think your right seem u right also think tropical weather Dissuction this morning Tomas 14N 77W before turn NORTH may come throught
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Morning everyone, Just got back from Talladega. What a race. Went from tornado warnings on tuesday to steller weather for the race. I got .42 of the liquid gold yesterday. First rain since late september.
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Kman: You won't get two systems out this, the competing centers are just too close together. One will win out and the other will dissipate.


If this all winds up it's going to be a big storm. Perhaps that also is contributing to the slow re-development. May be a good thing for Haiti, wind-wise.

Should be an interesting day for watching development.
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We will have better model data shortly



Member Since: Oktober 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
993. Jax82


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Quoting Jeff9641:


Heavy rain in the Miami area seems to wanna build your way later and then into the Orlando metro again after many areas got 1 to 3" of rain yesterday.



Rain chances increase for us starting today. Already had a shower through this morning, FINALLY.
Member Since: Januari 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Quoting Jeff9641:


I find it odd how the models seem to be spitting out another 2 to 3 systems before months end. Even if we get 2 that would be truly amazing for November. Also the wx pattern is resembling more of an EL-Nino signature during November with a system each week coming and bringing heavy rain to FL. I wonder if the warming of the SST off Mexico has something to do with this.


Possibly. At any rate, just in the past 15 years, there have been 15 post-October storms: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2008, and--yes--2009 each produced one November storm, while 2002 had two, and 2005 saw three. In addition, both 2005 and 2007 saw a single December storm, while 2003 saw two.

Past results are not necessarily an indicator of future performance...but if you ask me, the season isn't over yet.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555
990. ackee
Tomas cant seem make up his mind where to go just seem like typical November storms Werid hard to track
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Morning All.

Florida will be in the cone soon.



HAHA


NOT....
Member Since: Januari 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
986. ackee
anyone read Crown weather tropical Disscution this morning saying the Further West Tomas move it delay North turn might result Tomas hiting jamaica and eastern cuba which seem reasonable base on what going on with Tomas NOW GUESS we see
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I am not a met but to my untrainded eye former Tomas looks pitiful and I give him permission to continue moving west away from Haiti
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Tomas would have to move SE for it to hit South America.

Tomas isn't going into South America...
Yes, but he is saying Central America. Costa Rica/Honduras/Nicaragua. This is one weird system. If the NHC is having so much difficulty with it no wonder us non-mets are getting a headache from trying to figure him out.
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Quoting kmanislander:


I still think the area near 14.5 N and 73.5 W is taking over and looking more ominous with every new frame of the visible loop
Mabe the Caymans will get a piece of this..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21416
Quoting stillwaiting:
west,west, west...tommys going west into CA,been sayn that last 4 days...


Tomas would have to move SE for it to hit South America.

Tomas isn't going into South America...
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TD Tomas looks like this morning just an area of low presure just in the begining stages of getting its act together. The surrounding enviorment looks conductive for further development with an expected track to the N-NE
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west,west, west...tommys going west into CA,been sayn that last 4 days...
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...the NHC has done very well in keeping us on our toes here in Jamaica. Less people may have died in St. Lucia if they got half as much warning. Even if Tomas dissipates now (which I hope happens) we are eternally grateful to the NHC.
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Back later
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Quoting Zaphod:
Is there a chance for TWO storms to develop out of this? The primary circulation to the East seems to be re-developing now, but obviously the West component has been firing actively as well.

What if the trough catches East and pulls it over Haiti, but West moves NW toward the Yucatan and then toward Cuba?

I know it's far more likely that East wins out, and the battle with West simply delays development. I think that's what we've seen so far, and it may save Haiti from a Cat 3.


You won't get two systems out this, the competing centers are just too close together. One will win out and the other will dissipate.
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I will give it a couple of hours and see how it looks then.
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Is there a chance for TWO storms to develop out of this? The primary circulation to the East seems to be re-developing now, but obviously the West component has been firing actively as well.

What if the trough catches East and pulls it over Haiti, but West moves NW toward the Yucatan and then toward Cuba?

I know it's far more likely that East wins out, and the battle with West simply delays development. I think that's what we've seen so far, and it may save Haiti from a Cat 3.
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A somewhat interesting feature is the mass of clouds generally centered at about 9N/28W. It's exhibited very slow cyclonic spin since emerging off of Africa two days ago, and convection has been more or less persistent for three days now. There's not much in the way of 850mb vorticity yet, but, still, it may be something worth watching as it crawls westward over the next several days; CV season may be long over, but storms don't always pay much attention to our calendars.

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image


Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image

Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555
Quoting Neapolitan:
ATCF just out says Tomas is still a 30-knot, 1006mb TD--centered at 13.9N/75.7W. Huh?

AL, 21, 2010110312, , BEST, 0, 139N, 757W, 30, 1006, TD, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,


I still think the area near 14.5 N and 73.5 W is taking over and looking more ominous with every new frame of the visible loop
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Quoting Neapolitan:
ATCF just out says Tomas is still a 30-knot, 1006mb TD--centered at 13.9N/75.7W. Huh?

AL, 21, 2010110312, , BEST, 0, 139N, 757W, 30, 1006, TD, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,


THat already puts it near Jamaica's longitude.
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Quoting CaribbeanStorm:


...please explain that...do you mean because it already killed at least 14 persons?
No, he means how "well" the NHC has predicted it so far although they base their predictions on the models.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


I think Tomas has basically dissipated not to say though that a new center will reform as a result of Tomas but even the NHC agrees Tomas has no center right now.
True...And it can be difficult for the models to latch on to angry masses of cotton, give the mets fits too..Very hard to forecast..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21416
Quoting Jeff9641:
Tomas looks to be forming in the blob SW of Jamaica and if that's the case then this could very well be a Cayman's event. There is very evident circulation Sw of Jamaica right now. I think Tomas dissipated and is forming a new center right now.


I just think Tomas is dissipating and won't do anything else at all. Hopefully its convection will dissipate too so Haiti won't get flooded, even remnants of Tomas could be destructive there.

I'm just happy we gout our first rain in over a month here! We had all time record driest period here ever here. Its so weird because back in August we had 26 inches of rain, and we only had 1 day in August that it didn't rain! Just such a weird change in weather.

We only had a.11 yesterday, but that's ok, I didn't expect any yesterday, and some places further east of year had 1 to 3 inches in a few spots! I think rainfall should be significant for Thursday though! Then comes the massive chill.
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ATCF just out says Tomas is still a 30-knot, 1006mb TD--centered at 13.9N/75.7W. Huh?

AL, 21, 2010110312, , BEST, 0, 139N, 757W, 30, 1006, TD, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555

This loop show clearly the center the NHC is tracking around 13.5N/76.3W, I don't see a WNW movement at all due west IMO.Link
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7931
Quoting Jeff9641:


That's the GFDL thinking now.
Then we would be discussing Tomas a while longer....Maybe like the Caribbeans version of 1971,s Hurricane Ginger, just a lot later in the season...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21416
Tomas is in a weak state this morning...I'm kind of surprised.

I'm going to stop forecasting for Tomas :P

He's WAY too complicated
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St. Lucian Star, Hurricane Edition PDF
Member Since: Augusti 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1455
Quoting largeeyes:
Something tells me Tomas does not end up on the NHC's list of greatest achievements...


...please explain that...do you mean because it already killed at least 14 persons?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
21L/TD/T
MARK
13.88N/74.89W
Thats no storm...its a angry mass of cotton..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21416

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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