Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tomas at 80 Kts and Strengthening

Hurricane Tomas is presently moving WNW on a course that would pass to the south of Jamaica.  Computer models indicate the storm will turn towards the north as it nears Jamaica and hit Jamaica sometime on Thursday.  However a lot can happen between now (Saturday) and Thursday.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Tomas Looks Like Trouble

The large system which has become Tropical Storm Tomas I've been watching closely for the past few days.  The outflow pattern is a little strange but this system has all the makings of big trouble so we need to keep an eye on it.  It's large, it's developing fast, conditions are good, there's plenty of hot water to fuel it, it's far south, and it's moving west.

Cyclones that form that far to the east of Guatemala usually curve right and head north long before they reach us.  However, at this time of year, at the end of the hurricane season, steering currents and fronts can conspire to prevent a cyclone from following its natural tendency to turn right.  The storm can continue to come west all the way to Central America.  What's more, this system formed far to the south to begin with, which increases the chance of what I just mentioned above.

We'll just have to see what it does.

Unexpected Heavy Rain

Yesterday (Thursday) we got quite a lot of rain.  It started at around 5:30 AM and continued off and on all day and into the night, with occasional lightning and thunder.  For much of Thursday morning the stormy weather was purely local.  For several hours during the morning we had our own private storm that remained stationary and active over eastern Izabal.  It was kind of unusual as there was virtually no other activity for hundreds of miles, but by midday, air movement picked up and patches of rainy weather spread throughout the region.

The cause was a cold front coming down from the north that turned out to be stronger than expected and reaching farther south than expected.  The air here at this time of year is unstable and rain is always possible if slightly cooler air arrives.  On Wednesday we had an extremely hot and humid day, conditions that I expect centered in this region here in eastern Izabal.  When the cooler air approached on Thursday morning, our area was the first to experience precipitation and convection which later spread over a much wider area when the air aloft cooled a bit more.

In all it was quite interesting.  The large amount of rain in eastern Izabal caught everyone by surprise.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Small Local Thunderstorm and Activity in the Atlantic

This time of year the air is very unstable and there's almost always a chance of rain or thunderstorm.  This morning we have a small local thunderstorm bringing rain to eastern Izabal.  It's the only t-storm in Guatemala this morning.  It should clear up later today and we should have very little precipitation for the next four days.

Of greater interest are three active areas out in the Atlantic.  The areas marked 1 and 2 almost certainly too far north to bother us in Guatemala.  But number 3 is interesting.

Most of the cyclones that affect us in eastern Guatemala at this time of year form quite close to us in the area east of Nicaragua.  Cyclones have a tendency to turn right and for most of the hurricane season storms that form far east of us usually turn right and head north long before they reach us.  But at this time of year, late in the season, air currents and fronts are such that they can force a storm to remain to the south.  A storm that forms far south where number 3 is located can come west, all the way to Guatemala, without curving to the right and going north.  So we should keep an eye on the disturbance at number 3 in the graphic below.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hurricane Richard Makes Landfall in Belize

Radar showed the eye of Hurricane Richard made landfall about 20 miles SSW of Belize City about 45 minutes ago.  Max sustained winds were 90 MPH / 150 kmh.

LOCATION...17.2N 88.3W

Hurricane Richard Hits Belize

Hurricane Richard's path shifted slightly to the north since the last update and movement has accelerated to 13 MPH WNW.  It is about 55 miles from Belize City and has strengthened slightly.  Central pressure dropped to 988.  As you can see in the sat image, Hurricane Richard is a tight little hurricane and will mostly likely affect us very little here in Rio Dulce.

LOCATION...17.1N 87.5W

Richard Becomes a Hurricane

Tropical Storm Richard has become Hurricane Richard.  Max sustained winds now 85 MPH.

LOCATION...16.9N 86.9W

Possible Heavy Rain Tonight from Richard

Tropical Storm Richard continues to strengthen very slowly.  Winds are now up to 70 MPH, so not quite a hurricane yet.  It is following the track that was forecast yesterday.

Heavy rains are possible tonight (Sunday night) while the storm makes its closest approach and passes NNE of us here in Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

Location:  16.8N   86.4W
30 mi N of Roatan
Maximum sustained winds: 70 MPH
Movement: WNW at 10 MPH
Minimum central pressure: 990 mb, 29.23 inches

Hurricane warning is in effect for:  Belize and Honduras from Limon to Puerto Cortes and the Bay Islands, Roatan, Utila, Guanaja.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hurricane Warning Zone Extended

Richard is sustaining winds of 65 MPH so it's not quite a hurricane yet.  Movement continues west at 8 MPH.

Hurricane warning zone has been extended to include the north coast of Honduras, the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, and the entire coastline of Belize.

Possible Hurricane Richard, Update

For the latest updates, go to the front page:

During the past five hours, Tropical Storm Richard suddenly "woke up".  Winds are now reaching 65 MPH, and movement has accelerated to 8 MPH, still moving west.

Latest forecast shows Richard reaching hurricane strength as it passes over the Bay Islands and making landfall a bit south of Belize City.  Hurricane warnings are now in effect along the north coast of Honduras to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.

Tropical Storm Richard

Tropical Storm Richard began moving slowly west yesterday (Friday) afternoon and this morning the storm center is located at the northeastern tip of Honduras.  The previous track predictions had the storm moving out into the Gulf of Honduras, strengthening to a hurricane and making landfall north of Belize City.  The new track forecast has moved somewhat south, where the storm would skirt along the northern coast of Honduras and make landfall south of Belize City.  Such a track keeps half of the storm over land so Richard would not strengthen to a hurricane but would pass much closer to us here in Izabal.  If the storm follows the track in the diagram below there would be no significant wind here in Rio Dulce but we would likely receive a lot of rain.

If the track and movement shown below is correct, closest approach would occur from tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon through the wee hours of Monday morning.  The official forecast predicts a huge amount of rain (120mm) during that 12 hour period.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tropical Storm Richard

At this time, Tropical Storm Richard is stationary, pretty much in the same location as shown in the graphic in the previous post, 35 kt max wind, central pressure 1006.  Waiting to see what it will do.  It is expected to strengthen and start moving west.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hurricane Richard?

The last three posts have discussed the mass of convective storms in our area here in the western Caribbean.  Steering currents at this time of year are complex and confused and this system has been staggering like a drunk in the region northeast of Honduras.  It was headed generally north and northeast, taking it farther away from us, but it made a 180 degree turn to the right, coming south again.  It has also strengthened and become Tropical Depresson 19.

TD19 is in warm water and conditions are good for development.  Outflow is already well developed and the system is expected to strengthen rapidly.  There is wide disagreement amongst the various computer models forecasting the track for this system but for the time being the highest probability track is shown in the graphic below.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Storm System is Moving Away

As can be seen from the satellite image, this system is moving north and east, away from us here in eastern Guatemala.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Developing Tropical Storm -- and Some Humor

This is the system discussed in the previous post.  Its movement changed from WNW to North so most of the system remained over water and it has developed quite nicely.  It will likely become a TD tonight.  Fortunately for us, it is moving north, taking it further away from us here in eastern Guatemala.  We are also now in the third quadrant of the storm which means we will likely see no effects whatsoever from this storm unless it changes course.

Speaking of changing course, I find the following graphic very humorous.  Depicted are the track forecasts for the above system generated by the various weather modeling and prediction systems.  Most of the time, these models are generally in agreement.  But as you can see, this is not the case for the above storm.  This illustrates the extreme complexity and chaotic behavior that occurs this time of year in this part of the Caribbean.  We have the trades, the convergence zone, tropical waves, unstable air, and now fronts from the north all colliding in our region.  Weather forecasting in the convergence zone is always dicey and at this time of year one can really only make general statements.  A gypsy fortune teller could probably produce forecasts as well as anyone.

Some Disagreement Amongst the Computer Models ?!
(Click to view larger)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Developing Slowly

This mass of convective storms mentioned in the previous post shows some overall rotation but development is inhibited by interaction with land.  Currents are pushing the system slowly towards the northwest.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Most Dangerous Time of Year in the Western Caribbean

It's October 16th which means we are entering the period of maximum danger from hurricanes in our region here in eastern Guatemala.  Towards the end of hurricane season, from the middle of October to the middle of November is when conditions  produce strong hurricanes in our vicinity and fronts from the north to keep those hurricanes down low at our latitude.  Hurricane Mitch and Hurricane Hattie are two examples of very destructive late-season hurricanes in the western Caribbean.  Anything that come into our region during this time must be watched closely.

And yet again, we have another mass of convective storm activity developing east of Nicaragua.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tropical Storm Paula Might Do Something Unusual

Paula has weakened to a tropical storm and is now affecting the far western tip of Cuba.  A couple of the forecast models have Paula tracking the north coast of Cuba, through the Florida Straits and out into the Atlantic.  However most of the models have Paula approximately following the track shown in the graphic below.

If the track curves to the right and across Cuba, it will be interesting to see what happens when the storm moves back into the Western Caribbean.  Will it strengthen again?  Where will it go?  The track will likely continue curving to the right and Paula might come back into our neighborhood again.

Tropical Storm Paula.
Click to view larger.

Monday, October 11, 2010

We Got Lucky Again, Probably

As soon as Tropical Storm Paula got over the water it changed course to NW.  If that course holds we'll probably see few effects here in Rio Dulce because we'll be in the third and fourth quadrants of the storm.

Bingo! Tropical Storm Paula

Well there it is as expected, Tropical Storm Paula.  This storm is expected to become Hurricane Paula rather  quickly.

The confused movement of Tropical Storm Paula.
Click to view larger.

Rain This Afternoon

The clouds that are over Rio Dulce right now are associated with the disturbance mentioned in the last two posts.  Wind is picking up, pressure falling.  I expect it will start raining sooner rather than later, probably in the next hour or two. Might this become Tropical Storm Paula?

Rotation of the system is increasing.  The center of the disturbance is still over land and should come over water again by this evening.  Rapid development is possible because conditions are pretty good and outflow is already well established.  The storm is close to us, developing right in our area, so stay tuned for further notices.

I find it interesting that yesterday's sunrise was very red and I thought about this:

"Red sky at morning,
   sailorman's warning.
Red sky at night,
   sailor's delight."

Rain By Tonight

The system shown in the previous post is not yet a cyclone, it's barely rotating, but it looks pretty organized to me and it has strong convection and good outflow.  NOAA and the Hurricane Center say nothing about eastern Guatemala, just rain in Nicaragua and eastern Honduras.  The official forecast for Puerto Barrios shows nothing over the next five days.

I disagree.  The system has distinct rain bands, is moving directly towards us, and it looks to me like those rain bands will start to affect us here in Rio Dulce / Puerto Barrios by around 6:00 PM tonight (Monday night), if not sooner.

Slowly Developing System

Below is a closer view of the system mentioned in the previous post.  It continues to develop slowly and move west-northwest.  The center of the system in this photo is located about 60 miles southeast of the point where the Honduras-Nicaragua border reaches the coast.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Possible Cyclone We Need to Watch

The last one was no threat because it was moving north and there were no indications that it might turn towards us in Guatemala.  This next one shown in the image below is being steered by airflows that will likely bring it closer to us as it develops.  This system has been there for a number of days without much development but during the day today (Saturday) it began to develop pretty rapidly.  We'll see what happens with it tomorrow.