Tomas & Haiti? Plus Storm, Heat, and MeteoPolitics!

Wind shear and 24 hour change in the Atlantic Basin, credit: University of Wisconsin CIMMS

Tomas continues along in the Caribbean today, about 265 miles west of St. Lucia, chugging off slightly north of due west around 10 mph. Tomas bumped up to a Cat 2 storm overnight, but has since weakened, back to a minimal 75 mph category one storm. Reconnaissance aircraft visited the storm earlier and helped quantify what satellite had been showing all day. It looks pretty ragged, as some dry air and shear have begun to take their toll on Tomas. You can seeĀ  the ragged structure of Tomas here. The darker area to the west of the storm indicates the presence of at least some drier air too. The image to the left shows the current wind shear analysis in the Atlantic, as well as the trend. The red area near the hurricane symbol indicates that Tomas is in an area of enhanced shear. Assuming things gradually progress from west to east, it would appear things are only going to get more hostile for Tomas the next day or so. In fact, the model guidance suggests that the shear remains over Tomas into Tuesday, before pulling away. Provided Tomas can maintain its core and overall structure, even if it weakens into, say, a tropical storm, it will have an opportunity later Tuesday and through Wednesday to intensify, and given the water temperatures in that region, it could be explosive strengthening if the conditions are right.

In terms of the track of Tomas, while things may change some in the next day or two as the storm fluctuates in intensity,

Morning Model Guidance Spaghetti Plot of Tomas' Tracks, credit: South Florida Water Management District

you can see that most of the models track Tomas to just south of Hispaniola. After that, they generally either stall or it lift it northward. In reality, given the normal uncertainty of tropical systems, anything is possible, from Cuba to east of the Dominican Republica. Unfortunately though, Haiti looks to be right in the middle of the possibilities. And again, unfortunately, regardless of the intensity of Tomas at landfall, this is really looking like it could be a very grim situation for that country, and if you thought things couldn’t get worse in Haiti, this would be how it can. Current model projections (which generally do a poor job handling specifics of tropical system precipitation totals) are dropping 8-10″ on southern Haiti. This is really a disheartening situation to watch, and hopefully precautions are already being taken to ensure the safety of residents and relief workers.


Still watching this storm for next week. In my forecasting for California next week, it was pretty obvious the differences in the main models (Euro and GFS). The GFS cuts down the western ridge and slides it to the Lee of the Rockies on Friday/Saturday, which has almost no support from any other model or its own ensemble members.

Euro Depiction of a Mess in the East, credit: Allan Huffman's Weather Model Page:

So what it’s doing is forcing everything in the east to develop further east, and therefore not as amplified. The Euro however last night took a deeper low out of the gulf and up the Appalachians into Western NY, wrapping the possibility of at least a few inches of snow on the backside for much of the mountains of Tennessee/North Carolina, up through West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western PA, Michigan, and western NY and Ontario, along with some lake effect or lake enhanced snow on the wrap around. The European has some support from the Canadian model (which is taking a 980 mb landbomb from the Carolinas northwest into OH/IN), which is also encouraging for confidence. This morning’s verison of the Euro was a little further east, and brought the chances for snow from the mountains of NC/TN up through WV’s mountains, and perhaps some in W PA and Eastern Ohio/Western NY, as well as Ontario and northern Michigan. It has to hit a fairly narrow window for snow, but if I had to place bets right now, I’d lean on Ontario/Michigan and not much more than that at the moment. Stay tuned.

Election Day Weather

With the big midterm elections coming up, there are all sorts of anecdotes about weather and people’s voting habits. Well, we’ll test the theory again this year, but primarily in the south. It looks like areas from Houston to New Orleans up through Mississippi and into Memphis and over to Little Rock will see the worst weather in the US on Election Day (as the late week storm begins to develop). Otherwise, other than a couple showers in the Northwest and parts of Minnesota it looks dry. So no excuses to stay home…go vote.

Cali Heat

I discussed how the European model keeps the western ridge in tact. Well that ridge is going to lead to searing autumn heat in California, with Santa Ana winds possibly leading to temperatures into the mid or upper 90s here in SoCal. It looks blazing hot Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s record high for Downtown LA is 99 degrees, and Wednesday’s is 95 degrees. Tuesday’s looks a lot safer than Wednesday’s at the moment. I suspect we could be talking record heat for a day or two in parts of SoCal. Been a year of some ridiculous temperature extremes out here.



Talking Tomas and Scary Shary

We currently have two storms in the Atlantic, both of which are hurricanes. It’s October 30th…this is just slightly bizarre. According to Dr. Jeff Masters, this is the second latest point in the hurricane season we’ve ever had two hurricanes at once in the Atlantic (at least in the historical record). The latest was November 7-10, 1932.

Hurricane Shary

Shary is a weak category 1 storm (75 mph winds), and is currently beginning the transition to a non-tropical storm. Shary will continue to race toward Europe, likely bringing them a significant storm sometime this coming week. This will probably be the last we hear about Shary.

Hurricane Tomas

Radar Image From Meteo France of Hurricane Tomas near St. Vincent

Tomas is not quite as simple. We talked about the threat to the bigger islands later this coming week, but as you can see from the radar image from Meteo France to the left, Tomas is clearly bearing down on the smaller islands now. The current advisory as of 2 PM Atlantic Standard Time has Tomas as a 75 mph hurricane, near St. Vincent or about 25 miles south of St. Lucia. The pressure is still 992 mb, so we’re not looking at a very deep storm right now. This is just the humble beginnings.

Tomas will continue across the Caribbean, gradually building strength (the current NHC official forecast is for a 115 mph major hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning). And as you can see from the track forecast, it looks like the brakes get put on somewhere southeast of Jamaica and south of Haiti. As it either gets caught in a squeeze play..or the models are having issues resolving what’s next.

Morning Models Forecast Spaghetti Track of Hurricane Tomas from the South Florida Water Management District

Either way, this will likely be a prolific rain maker in some parts of the Caribbean and should it start to pull north late in the period, could be, again, a real serious blow to Haiti.

But another aspect that’s interesting regarding Tomas, is how it might interact with whatever system develops in the East next week. Just looking at new model data rolling in, the GFS is interesting, in that it it brings one storm up well into Northern New England on Thursday and Friday, with the potential for snow well north into Maine and Quebec, but the possibility of lake effect snow into New York and upslope snow in Vermont on the backside. It then takes a second storm out of the Gulf and up the East Coast, pretty far offshore and into Eastern New England, Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes. This storm would grab Tomas and inject it right into the system, so it would be very moist and potentially very strong (ironic as we’re celebrating the 19th anniversary of the “Perfect Storm” today).

The new European model coming in leaves Tomas behind in the Caribbean, but opens up a moisture plume all the way down there. So the storm deepens, but actually tracks up the Appalachians and west of Buffalo into Lake Huron. This would bring heavy snow potentially to parts of Michigan, and a heck of a lot of rain to parts of the East Coast and New England.

What does this mean? It means there is a LOT of uncertainty next week, and now that we know we have an organized tropical system possibly getting involved, well…that certainly makes the whole pattern more intriguing. It is interesting to note however that this European model solution has some similarities to the Canadian model we also look at. I’ll be watching this over the coming days.

Last item of note, a friend of mine at the NWS has helped put together what’s essentially a Bible of NWS lingo, products, items, places, services, as well as severe weather, safety, and much more. It’s a must bookmark and/or print for any meteorologist or serious weather enthusiast. Check it out here.

Twin Tropical Trouble + Latest on Next Week

European Model Surface Plots (Left: Thursday morning, Right: Friday morning), From PSU E-Wall.

Not too much to add this afternoon on next week’s eastern system. There are still glaring differences between the models. The European model continues to go all bomb’s away off the East Coast. The GFS model continues to be flat..dumps some pretty chilly air in, but no storm. I continue to side with the Euro for the most part on this, with maybe not as much of an explosive system to develop later next week. Check this out. The European model (images above) takes the storm from about a 1008 mb weak low on the Carolina coast Thursday morning to a 972 mb beast in Central Maine on Friday morning. One key change with the European model today though is that it is not flinging quite as much moisture back into the cold air on the west side of the storm. This would spell less snow, except perhaps for the higher terrain of Northern New England (which would be hammered if the European model is correct).

So the take home message today is that, there’s still a chance for a pretty interesting storm. There’s a chance snow will be involved in some interior sections. There’s also a slight chance we could be dealing with another bomb cyclone, which could potentially cause significant weather impacts in parts of Northern New England and Quebec. So stay tuned…these sorts of battles aren’t uncommon between the two models. This will be a good test for the upcoming winter. Sometimes if a model shows a radical solution (like the Euro) and ends up correct, you can occasionally give that model some extra confidence through the winter season. In a tough situation, sometimes that can pay off huge if you’re a forecaster. So we will see.

In other news….

Model Spaghetti plot of tracks for Tropical Storm Shary, from South Florida Water Management District

The National Hurricane Center has started issuing advisories on two new tropical systems in the last 24 hours: Shary and Tomas. This brings the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season tally to: 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. Normal is 11/6/2 I believe. So we’re long gone in terms of normal.

So what about these two storms? Shary is more of a nuisance than anything. Expecting a mid-grade tropical storm (current winds 60 mph) that will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to Bermuda. Then it should scoot out to sea.

Tomas, on the other hand, has a potentially much more sinister future ahead. Tomas just formed, so its winds are only 40 mph, and it will scoot along in the Caribbean, likely not impacting anyone through the weekend (except perhaps some cruises or some outer rain bands/gusty winds on some of the islands). But Tomas is headed into an area of very favorable ocean and environmental conditions for development.

Model Spaghetti plot of tracks for Tropical Storm Tomas from South Florida Water Management District

The latest image from the LSU Earth Scan Lab shows a whole lotta red in the Caribbean. This spells development if the environmental conditions are right. And it appears they will be as we go into next week. The official track of Tomas from the NHC shows it becoming a major hurricane next week as it begins to turn north toward, sadly, Haiti. If there is one place in the Atlantic Basin that could really use a season without a direct impact from a storm, it’s Haiti. Still a long way to go, but this could very well shape up to be a devastating storm for someone. We’ll see.

More Power/Less Power

Some renewable energy news to close things out.

California is fast tracking several big time solar plants to get in before a critical deadline.

Wind power, however, has slowed down considerably, back to 2007 levels. I do think wind will pick back up with the economy though.

More later…