Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here We Go Again, But It's Not a Threat

Again we appear to have a cyclone forming in our neighborhood but it should not be a threat.  The system is moving north and the lowest pressures in the system are around Isla de Juventud, already well north of us here in Guatemala.  Even though this system is not yet a cyclone, near tropical storm force winds are occurring east of Isla de Juventud.

This system will be a problem for Cuba and in another day will likely become a problem for southern Florida. This system is very broad and will affect us here in Guatemala with increased rain.  I expect moderate to heavy rain every night this week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Here We Go Again - Maybe

Even as Tropical Storm Matthew was passing us here in Rio Dulce, another large mass of disorganized thunderstorms and a broad low was forming off the northeastern tip of Honduras.  It gradually strengthened and drifted very slowly north.  Conditions were fairly good for cyclone development but there have been no tropical waves or influences that might trigger rapid development.  The region continues to develop slowly and drift north.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matthew Has Left Guatemala

Tropical Storm, now Tropical Depression Matthew did not slow down and stop for a while in Belize as expected, which would have kept the storm in our area for at least another day.  During the night the storm kept moving, crossed the Peten, and is now over Palenque in southern Mexico.  It is expected to continue moving WNW and further away from us here in eastern Guatemala.

As is typical after the passage of such a storm we enjoyed a relatively fresh and cool afternoon yesterday and cool night last night.  Once the storm is out of the area, our heat and humidity will return along with thunderstorms.

Little rain, if any, is expected in Rio Dulce today (Sunday), tonight, and Monday, however expect heavy rain and thunderstorms Monday and Tuesday nights.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Worst is Probably Over in Izabal

The center of Tropical Storm Matthew passed northeast of us here in Rio Dulce this morning and we are now in the relatively peaceful third quadrant of the storm.  Rain stopped several hours ago and we have partial sun. There was no significant wind, just a few gusts of around 15 to 20 MPH.  On the satellite imagery the heavy moisture in the region is in quadrants 1, 2, and 4 as one would expect.  I expect no additional heavy rain here until the storm moves a couple of hundred miles away and moisture can come into our area again, probably late Monday and Monday night.

The storm has weakened to a tropical depression as it moved over southern Belize but as you can see in the track forecast below, it is expected to pause and make a little move to the southwest before again turning northwest which will keep the storm in our immediate area for much longer than one would normally expect.  We'll have unsettled conditions and partly cloudy weather for a couple of days before weather returns to normal for this time of year.  The Peten, the Verapaces, Belize, and the Yucatan will probably receive heavy rains for the next 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Matthew 8:30 AM Local Time

25Sep10 0830 Local Time - Visible Light Image

Heavy Rain in Eastern Guatemala

As expected, Tropical Storm Matthew has been dropping large amounts of rain in eastern Guatemala.  Steady rain began in at around midnight, becoming constant heavy rain around 3 AM.  The images below show the storm's shape and position at 6:00 AM local time.

25Sep10 0600 Local Time, Infrared

25Sep10 0600 Local Time, GOES Water Vapor
From what I could see passing through Fronteras at 5:30 AM, there is strong runoff but no serious flooding. I've seen worse flooding at times in the past so apparently the rain has been falling steadily without "cloudbursts" that exceed the capacity of normal runoff channels. The streets are not flooded and there are no temporary rivers flowing across the highway.

The most striking thing was the darkness.  It should have been light at 5:30 AM but it was still pitch dark, streetlights on.  With the center of the storm over us and as can be seen from the IR satellite photo above, the clouds above us are dense and probably 10 or 12 miles thick.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Heavy Rain Tonight (Friday)

The change in storm track now puts us in front of the approaching storm where a lot more rain occurs, and sooner.  The original track put us in the third quadrant where there is often little rain or wind.

The result will probably be heavy rains tonight (Friday) and into Saturday morning.  Rainfall amounts could be extremely heavy.

24Sep10 1800 Local - Infrared Cloud Temperature
The pink and white areas indicate temperatures of 70 to 90 below zero equating to 40,000 to 60,000 feet

24Sep10 1800 Local - Current surface analysis and projected position in 24 hours.

24Sep10 1800 Local - GOES West Moisture Content

Matthew Much Closer But Weaker

Good news and bad news:  Bad news: The latest track for Matthew brings it directly to us here in Rio Dulce.  Good news:  The new track is almost entirely over land so the storm will weaken to a tropical depression before arriving.  Bad news: Coming directly to us will likely greatly increase the amount of heavy rain we receive.  The previous track had us on the southwest side of the storm where there is much less wind and precipitation.  If the track shown below comes to pass we will probably get an excessive amount of rain here in Rio Dulce.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tropical Storm Matthew

There's a lot of convective energy in the area where TD 15 formed so it didn't take long to become Tropical Storm Matthew.

See previous post for details.

Tropical Depression 15 is Coming

As discussed and forecast in the previous three posts as this feature developed, we now have Tropical Depression 15.  It is expected to reach hurricane strength by the time it makes closest approach to us.  Latest track and strength forecast is shown below:

Cyclone Probability Now at 80 Percent

The region circled in red and marked 60% on the graphic in the previous post is now at 80% probability for formation of a cyclone.  This area is associated with a vigorous low, plenty of unstable moisture over a wide area, and a wave.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Possible Developing Cyclone in Our Neighborhood

That mass of moist unstable air that I wrote about yesterday that I expect to arrive around Saturday appears to be showing signs of organization.

As we get deeper into the hurricane season and close to October is when cyclones in the Caribbean tend to come further west before turning north.  This tendency to come further west plus a cyclone that at such a low latitude increases the potential danger in eastern Guatemala.  October is the month to watch out for.  Hurricane Mitch is an example.  This system bears a close watch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Weather Change Coming

For the past week we haven't had much rain here in Rio Dulce but it's looking like that's about to change over the next few days.

Masses of warm moist air are moving into the area combined with cooler air aloft.  Starting today (Tuesday) and for the next several days there is an increasing chance of daytime thunderstorms and rain, plus the usual rain and thunderstorms at night but much heavier.  Right now it looks like the rainfall will peak on Saturday afternoon and night with possibly a huge amount of rainfall Saturday night.  By huge I mean double the heaviest rainfall day we've had so far this rainy season and more than enough to cause flooding in the low lying areas of Rio Dulce / Fronteras.

Conditions in the tropics are very unstable so it's impossible to make solid forecasts but the above conditions are coming together.  Be prepared.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dia de Independencia, September 15, 2010

All across Guatemala today we celebrated the independence of Central America from Spain, 189 years ago.  Yesterday the country was criss-crossed by thousands of runners carrying torches for long distances.  Preparations began early this morning for parades and ceremonies at local schools.

Here is a set of photos of the parade and festivities in La Libertad, a small aldea a few miles north of Rio Dulce:


Dia de Independencia - DSCF7622

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tropical Storm Karl in the Bay of Honduras

As expected, we now have Tropical Storm Karl out in the Bay of Honduras.  It's sustaining winds of 35 kts and central pressure is 1000 mb.  Heavy rains are expected over Cuba, Caymans, Yucatan, and parts of Belize.  The storm is passing NE of us, so should not affect us too much here in Izabal but we should watch for any changes.

A Full Lineup of Tropical Storms

As can be seen in the NOAA image below we have a full lineup of storms on deck in the Atlantic.  Julia is a category 1 hurricane, Igor is a category 4 hurricane, and right in our backyard northeast of Honduras we have a mass of disorganized convective activity that has been gradually strengthening for the past few days as it moved into our area.  This region is expected to continue to develop and will likely become a cyclone.  A hurricane hunter aircraft is going to investigate today.

However it is not expected that any of these features will trouble us here in Guatemala.  If the activity northeast of Honduras develops into a cyclone we'll be on the wrong side of it to receive much moisture, if any, as it moves across the Yucatan.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunset at Punta Caimanes

With all the trouble that rainy season brings, it also brings scenes like this one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Were You Doing on 9/11 ?

The Maya Paradise BBS has a thread where you can post your stories:

Let's hear your stories of that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Heavy Rains and Flooding, Not Just in Guatemala

We're not alone here in Guatemala with our heavy rains and flooding.

Watch what happened yesterday on the Amalfi coast of Italy. The video starts slowly so be patient and watch the whole thing"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rain Damage--Update to previous article

Damage in western Guatemala from the incessant rain continues to increase. Yesterday afternoon (Sunday) a landslide occurred at km 28 on the Atlantic highway in San José del Golfo, killing one person and injuring 26 others. This landslide affects transportation between Guatemala City and eastern and northwestern Guatemala.

Conred is now reporting 255 incidents around the country involving landslides, collapses, or flooding. 50,634 persons are now affected, 11,495 have been evacuated from threatened areas, 14,900 are in shelters, 44 persons have died, 56 injured, and 16 are missing.

Previous article

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hot in Rio Dulce

As I write this at 3:00 PM on Sunday, the outside shade temperature right now is 37.4C and the RH is 55%. That's a heat index of 50C / 122F.


One Disaster After Another in Guatemala

The constant rains in the western half of Guatemala have been causing so many problems and disasters that it's hard to keep up with it. I've been waiting for things to calm down a bit before writing another article but instead of calming down it's getting worse.

This morning it was reported that approximately 40 rescue workers and volunteers working to recover bodies from a landslide in Solola were themselves buried by a second landslide that occurred around 7:00 PM last night. This landslide is located at km 171 at Cumbre de Alaska, Solola. Nine were reported dead as of 10:15 AM this morning.

Flooding, landslides, collapses, road and bridge washouts have been happening all over western Guatemala. The map posted with this article was published last night by Conred and shows a list of events and their locations. Clicking the map should allow you to view it at full size.

The Departments of Retalhuleu, Suchitepequez, and Escuintla have been placed on red alert due to the severity of the damage. Because of widespread damage to the roads and blockages due to landslides in western Guatemala, the government is recommending against travel by road.

The latest numbers were released at 7:30 PM last night and report 21 dead and 34,146 persons displaced.

The major rivers of Guatemala continue at above alert levels and are not expected to drop any time soon.

Tropical Depression 11E which formed from a trough over Oaxaca, Mexico, was the main cause of the most recent damage. The remnant of 11E, which is very large and affects a wide area, has now moved over the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen rapidly. This system will likely bring another mass of moist unstable air over Guatemala today (Sunday), and more thunderstorms and rain.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Top Five Ways You Know It's Been Raining Heavy in Rio Dulce

1) The empty Coke bottles on your porch are full of water.

2) A rainbow-colored stain on the water where your dinghy used to be.

3) Concrete walkways are dark green or black instead of white.

4) Boaters stop complaining about getting "dinghy-butt".

5) The parking lot entrance is now the boat launching ramp.