Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Central American deaths continue to rise due to Agatha

Photo: Giant sinkhole in Guatemala City Courtesy CNN: The office of Guatemala's president handed out this aerial view of a crater that opened up after Agatha hit.

The death toll from Tropical Storm Agatha has continued to rise across the northern part of Central America. Guatemala was the hardest hit and people also perished in El Salvador and Honduras.

Tropical storm leaves more than 115 dead in Central America (CNN)
At least 115 people have died after a tropical storm battered Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador over the weekend, officials in those countries reported.

Guatemala was hit hardest, with at least 92 deaths, 54 people missing and 59 injured, emergency officials said. Nearly 112,000 people have been evacuated and more than 29,000 are living in temporary shelters, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said in an address to the nation late Sunday.

The devastation has been widespread throughout Guatemala with mudslides destroying homes and buildings and burying some victims. At least nine rivers
have dramatically higher levels and 13 bridges have collapsed, the nation's emergency services said.

In the northern part of Guatemala City, the downpour created a giant sinkhole that swallowed up a space larger than the area of a street intersection. Residents told CNN that a three-story building and a house fell into the hole.


In Honduras, where 14 people have died, President Porfirio Lobo declared a state of emergency Sunday.

Nearly 3,500 people have been evacuated from their homes and nearly 3,300 are living in shelters, the Honduran emergency agency said Monday. More than 140 homes have been destroyed and another 700 have been damaged, the Permanent Commission for Emergencies reported.

The situation in El Salvador, where nine people died, was improving Monday, officials said. The rain stopped Sunday afternoon and river levels were beginning to diminish, officials said. Classes nationwide remained canceled, however, until further notice.

More rain was possibly forecast for Monday, though, and Salvadoran officials said they were closely monitoring the situation.

The remnants of Agatha were just entering the western Caribbean Sea Sunday. Heavy rain from this storm system is expected across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, western Caribbean
and into Florida by mid-week. The system is not expected to organize, however, due to strong wind shear through the region.

Oil spill and hurricanes

A question that I have been asked several times is "How will the oils slick in the Gulf of Mexico affect the development or path of an on-coming hurricane?"

The fact is that I do not believe that anyone really knows. Several theories have come about all of which are equally valid.

What will happen when a hurricane tracks through the oil spill? (The Weather Channel)
The high winds and seas will mix and disperse the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.

The high winds may distribute oil over a wider area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the oil may be transported.

Storms' surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches.

Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm.
Where will the oil go? (The Weather Channel)

The rotation of a hurricane dictates the forces that the wind will impart onto the oil. A storm that comes in east of the oil will tend to push the oil out to sea, away from land. A storm in the western portion of the Gulf could drive the oil onshore.

The storm surge will act to bring the oil far onshore. This is primarily true for an approaching storm and for the north-east quadrant of the storm. As stated above, the winds on the western side of the storm will act to force the oil and water away from the shore.

Graphics courtesy of The Weather Channel.

Will the oil slick help or hurt a storm development in the Gulf? (The Weather Channel)
Will the oil have any effect on a hurricane? (The Weather Channel)
Will the hurricane pull up the oil that is below the surface of the Gulf? (The Weather Channel)

One of the issues is whether the storm is developing or is fully developed when it interacts with the oil slick. As discussed above, if a storm is developing, the presence of the oil may reduce the amount of evaporation. This was actually demonstrated in a study at MIT based on work done in the 1960's provided that the windspeed remains low. As the windspeed increases, the oil is more likely to break into smaller droplets which would not block evaporation as efficiently.

Hurricane Season Raises New Fears (New York Times)

A hopeful speculation is that the oil might not be all bad news and that it might sap the storm’s energy. In 1966, a husband-and-wife team of federal hurricane researchers, Joanne and Robert H. Simpson, speculated that spraying an insoluble liquid like oil onto the ocean might even be a way to combat hurricanes by cutting off the evaporation that feeds energy into the storm.

But in a fact sheet issued last week, the atmospheric administration noted that hurricanes span 200 to 300 miles wide, much larger than the current size of the spill, and doubted that the oil could have much effect on the strength or path of a storm.

Hurricane winds would also minimize the evaporation effect.

A few years ago, when researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology built a laboratory experiment to look at the flow of heat from water to air under different conditions, they, almost as a lark, followed up on the Simpsons’ suggestion.

They applied fatty alcohols onto the water, and at very low wind speeds the alcohols did suppress evaporation.

“But when the winds get up to gale force or so, the surface gets torn apart,” said Kerry A. Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at M.I.T. “We just didn’t see any effect at high wind speeds.”

One likely scenario is that oil on the surface will be atomized and blown around. An on-shore wind will blow oily residue many miles inland coating everything in the area with a film of oil. A fully developed storm that enters the Gulf may be affected to some extent but would generally push along.

Another concern is if the oil is carried by the Loop current to other areas in the Gulf or out into the Atlantic.

Oil Slick at the Mercy of Winds, Currents and Eddies (AccuWeather)
Light winds continue to allow some of the slick to be captured in the Loop Current, which is a semi-permanent, fast river of warm water circulating through part of the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico. At times this current can reach 3 to 5 mph.

The indications last week were that this current was "pinching off," forming a large eddy.


Depending on these winds and storm track, assuming the leak continues, oil that is not broken up by wave action could show up anywhere on the Gulf Coast with time from the Texas and Mexican coasts to the western Florida coast and the Keys.

Outside of this area, the risk of oil transport and landfall are substantially smaller because of the life-expectancy of the oil and tar balls and the even less-probable "hook-up" with more distant currents and eddies.

The development of a closed circulation-Loop Current eddy could allow a general westward migration of some of the oil slick over the central Gulf of Mexico, hence increasing the risk of possible impact on the Mexican and Texas coasts in months ahead.

A hurricane crossing the area could conceivably blow oil into the loop current or one of the eddys promoting the movement of oil into an area that is currently unaffected.

Memorial Day in the USA

With all due respect to my international readers, we in the United States of America live in the most free country on this planet. The liberties afforded to an American citizen have come with a great cost. The sacrifice of American soldiers have not only been for our own protection but also for the protection of the entire world from tyranny and evil.

We remember those who have given the greatest sacrifice so that we are free to live as we chose.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tropical Storm Agatha lands Guatemala a one - two punch

UPDATE: The death toll from Tropical Storm Agatha has increased to 63. Swollen rivers and mudslides were the primary causes for the deaths. Deaths were also reported in Honduras and El Salvador.

Guatemala death toll from Agatha rises to 63 (Arab News)
GUATEMALA CITY: At least 63 people are confirmed dead in Guatemala after Tropical Storm Agatha slammed the country, government officials said on Sunday. Chimaltenango Department Governor Erick De Leon told Reuters there were 50 deaths in his jurisdiction that had not previously been reported by the national government.

Chimaltenango is about 35 miles (60 km) west of the capital, Guatemala City.

Guatemalan emergency officials previously reported the confirmed death toll at 13.

Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall Saturday night brings much destruction and death to the Central American nation. Agatha struck land as a tropical storm and quickly weakened to a tropical depression but the danger from Agatha is not due to winds but to the rain.

Agatha's heavy rain caused severe flooding and mudslides. Adding to the destruction was the fact that Pacaya Volcano erupted just a few days earlier covering the area in ash. Adding water to the ash created a heavy thick mud.

Deadly Agatha Pounds Guatemala, El Salvador (AccuWeather)

Flooding and mudslides have left at least a dozen people dead in Guatemala and El Salvador. Agatha, as a tropical storm, made landfall in southern Guatemala Saturday night.

Tropical Rainstorm Agatha will continue to dump heavy rain across Guatemala, as well as neighboring El Salvador even though it has dissipated.

To make matters worse, the Pacaya Volcano erupted late last week, coating Guatemala City in ash. When the rain mixes with ash, it creates a cementlike mud. Ash accumulated up to 3 inches in parts of the city of 3 million. Guatemala's main airport has been closed since Thursday.

So far, at least 15 people have been killed, including 4 children who were buried in a mudslide that crushed their home.

Tropical Storm Agatha Kills 15 in Guatemala (Gather)

Tropical Storm Agatha left a path of death and destruction, killing 15 people as it tore through Guatemala Sunday. Officials say the death toll will likely rise.

Tropical Storm Agatha made landfall near the border of Guatemala and Mexico on Saturday as a tropical storm with wind speeds of up to 45 mph, It then weakened into a tropical depression before dissipating over the mountains of western Guatemala.

Even though Agatha is now just a remnant tropical rainstorm, the amount of rainfall will continue to be devastating to the region. One of the worst situations is heavy rainfall in a mountainous region from a slow moving or stationary storm system. Right now this is what Agatha is bringing to the people of Central America.

Deadly storm strikes Guatemala (Al Jazeera)

A powerful tropical storm has struck Guatemala, bringing torrential rains that have added to the disruption caused by an erupting volcano.

Agatha, the season's first tropical storm, has killed at least 12 people and left 11 people missing, as rain, mudslides and floods forced more than 3,000 people to to flee their homes, officials have said.

The torrential rains are complicating efforts to clear up ash from the Pacaya Volcano, which began erupting on Thursday, covering Guatemala City with ash and forcing the closure of the capital's international airport.

Agatha - the first named storm of the Pacific Hurricane season - is expected to dump at least 75cm of rain on Guatemala, as well as El Salvador and southeastern Mexico.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tropical Storm Agatha forms in the Pacific

The first named storm of the Eastern Pacific season formed this morning moving quickly from a disturbance, to a tropical depression to a named storm. Tropical Storm Agatha is threatening Guatemala with winds, heavy rains and the potential for floods and mudslides.

Tropical Storm Agatha Forms in Eastern Pacific (AccuWeather)
At 11 a.m. EDT, Tropical Storm Agatha was nearly 270 miles west of San Salvador, El Salvador and 170 miles west southwest of San Jose, Guatemala. The depression has maximum-sustained winds of 40 mph, and is moving to the east-northeast at 5 mph.

Agatha will slowly creep toward the Central American coastline over the next few days, strengthening in the process and could be close to hurricane strength upon landfall.

Tropical Storm Agatha will unleash heavy rainfall across far southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and western Honduras over the next few days. In addition to life-threatening flooding, a serious danger of mudslides exists due to the mountainous terrain of the area.

An added threat to Guatemala is that a volcano 15 miles from Guatemala City erupted last week spewing ash over the area. The ash mixed with floods and heavy rain could make a bad situation even worse.

Pacaya Volcano and Tropical Storm Agatha Target Guatemala (AccuWeather)
Flooding rain and mudslides from Tropical Storm Agatha and possible additional eruptions from Pacaya Volcano are threatening Guatemala this weekend.

A volcano, named Pacaya, located about 15 miles south of Guatemala City erupted Thursday, showering the capital city with up to 3 inches of ash.

The ash covered the landscape in Guatemala City and nearby areas, including runways and aircraft at La Aurora airport, which remained closed into the weekend.

2010 Hurricane season to be a doozy

Predictions for this year's hurricane season have all run on the higher than normal side. NOAA announced their predictions this week stating that the potential exists for this to be one of the top ten storm seasons ever. 14 to 23 named storms are expected to form this year with 8 - 14 reaching hurricane status and as many as 7 growing to a Category 3 or higher (Major Hurricane) status.

VIDEO: US Predicts Up to 7 Major Atlantic Hurricanes (Associated Press)

Factors contributing to the high forecast this year include warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, low upper level winds shears and the disintegration of El Nino. Another factor is the fact that the multi-decadal oscillation is such that the Atlantic is in a state of generally higher activity overall.

Fierce hurricane season predicted (USA Today)
"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared."

Forecasters say that some of the factors that support this outlook include a weakening El Nino, record warm Atlantic Ocean water, and the fact that we're in an era of high activity.

Wind shear, which can tear apart storms, will be weaker since El Nino is dissipating. Strong wind shear helped suppress storm development during the 2009 hurricane season.

Sea-surface temperatures are expected to remain above average where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic. Record warm temperatures – up to four degrees above average – are now present in this region, NOAA reports.

Also, since 1995, the Atlantic is in an era of increased hurricane activity. There are consistently favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions for storm formation.

At the press conference, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) administrator Craig Fugate stressed preparedness. "The most important thing for people to remember as we head into any hurricane season is to prepare, prepare, prepare," he said. "FEMA is working with all our federal, state and local partners to ensure we?re prepared, but we can only be as prepared as the public. It?s critical that families and businesses take steps now to get ready."

Storm predictions accurate

Storm predictions by NOAA and other organizations have generally been accurate. Many people become desensitized when few storms make landfall. The storm predictions are are for total storms in the entire Atlantic Basin. NOAA does not predict the number of landfalling hurricanes. Most people associate the strength of a hurricane season with how many storms come ashore.

This can be dangerous. 1992 was a rather calm season with regard to the number of storms, but the storm that did come ashore was Hurricane Andrew which caused catastrophic damage. As the graph below shows, the predictions have been fairly close to reality except for the record setting 2005 season which exceeded everyone's expectations. 2010 appears to have similar conditions at the start of the season as 2005 had.

Landfall risk increased

One obvious rule of thumb is that the more storms that exist in the Atlantic, the greater the likelihood that some of those storm will come ashore.

NOAA does not predict the number of landfalling storms but says that there is an increased risk of landfall this year compared to previous years. AccuWeather's Joe Bastardi has projected that at least 6 storms could affect the US coastline with as many as 10 storms as a worst case scenario.

Tropical Storm Risk predicts that at least five storms striking the US coast this year and that with an increased number of storms the risk to the Gulf Coast or Florida is very high.

‘Active’ 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast (Update1) (BusinessWeek)

At least two hurricanes and three tropical storm-strength systems are expected to hit the U.S., according to the British forecaster, which is affiliated with University College London and is co-sponsored by the insurers Aon Benfield, RSA Insurance Group Plc and Crawford & Co


The current El Nino cycle is waning and the Pacific will return to normal temperatures by June, according to a U.S. Climate Prediction Center update issued yesterday. Some models suggest a La Nina, or cooling of the Pacific, may develop later this year, the center said.

In addition to El Nino’s decline, high pressure developing over Bermuda during the season is likely to steer storms toward the U.S., the report showed. The Atlantic’s surface temperature in the area between Africa and the Caribbean, often referred to as the main hurricane development area, was the warmest on record in April.

“These waters provide heat and moisture to help power the development of storms,” the report said. “If this warm anomaly persisted to August-September it would favor an active hurricane season.”

As the number of hurricanes rises, so do the chances of one striking the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico or Florida’s crop areas.

The Gulf is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil and 12 percent of U.S. natural gas production, the U.S. Energy Department says. It also has seven of the 10 busiest U.S. ports, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Florida is the second- largest producer of oranges after Brazil.

The important thing this year is to PREPARE for the worst and HOPE for the best. This year this may prove to be more than a cliche.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Storm in Pacific continues to grow

A tropical low pressure system in the eastern Pacific has been steadily intensifying over the past week. Located to the southwest of Guatemala, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting a 70% chance of this system becoming Tropical Storm Agatha.

Intensity models from Weather Underground all predict the winds of this system reaching between 40 - 45 knots over the next 12 hours. How long these windspeeds are sustained are primarily based on how quickly the system reaches landfall.

Even if the system does not make landfall, heavy rain is expected to cause flooding and potentially mudslides.

Eastern Pacific Tropical Development (AccuWeather)

Even if it does not become a named system, this feature will still have a substantial impact on Central America. Flooding rain will be the biggest threat with El Salvador and southern parts of Guatemala and Honduras at the greatest risk.

Since the terrain is mountainous in these areas, mudslides will an added major threat with torrential rainfall.

As of Friday afternoon, the low pressure center was located several hundred miles south of the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Waters in this region are plenty warm enough to support development, and winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere appear light enough as well.

One development that is worth watching is the potential for 90E to cross Central America and reform in either the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico. Such a scenario has occurred in past seasons and with the warm waters of both bodies of water, if the system does re-emerge, development is likely.

Storm updates: Atlantic low headed to sea; Pacific system may enter Caribbean; NOAA issues season forecast(Palm Beach Daily News)

A low pressure system in the Pacific, just south of the southern coast of Mexico, appears to be developing rapidly this morning - see satellite picture above - and the NHC gives it a 60 percent chance of becoming at least a tropical depression over the next two days.

What does that mean for the Atlantic basin? It looks like the Pacific storm, Invest 90E, may drift to the north and east over Central America and try to redevelop in the western Caribbean.

The system is expected to produce very heavy rains, flooding and mud slides over El Salvador, southern Honduras and Guatemala over the next two days.

After that, if 90E does redevelop in the Caribbean, some computer models show it sliding off to the northeast toward the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and eastern Cuba.

“The southwestern Caribbean south of Jamaica will be favorable for development for the next few days, so anything that does track into the southwestern Caribbean will have to be watched closely,” hurricane watcher Rob Lightbown of Crown Weather Services said in his tropical weather update today.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Disturbed Weather harasses the Carolinas

An area of disturbed weather has shown signs of developing throughout the week. One week before the official start of Hurricane Season, the non-tropical low that formed in the North Atlantic showed signs of organization including the development of a circular center.

By Monday night, the circulation began to break apart but the rain and wind associated with this disturbance continues to move slowly towards the US Eastern Coast. Indications from spaghetti models are that the storm will make its closest approach today (Wednesday) bringing rain to the area around the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. Winds associated with this system are tropical storm force winds with a sustained windspeed of 45 MPH.

The system will loop around and head out to sea during the second half of the week and I suspect will be well away from the coast in time for the holiday weekend.

Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog (Weather Underground)

The extratropical low pressure system (90L) approaching North Carolina has weakened some over the past 24 hours, and has a much reduced chance of developing into a subtropical storm. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is giving 90L a less than 20% chance of developing into a depression or tropical/subtropical storm, and anticipates not writing any more special advisories on it.


The system will move slowly towards the Southeast U.S. coast today, making its closest approach to the coast on Wednesday, when most of the models indicate the center will be 300 - 500 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. All of the major models currently predict that 90L will not make landfall, but will move slowly eastward out to sea on Thursday, when a trough of low pressure moving across the Eastern U.S. picks up the storm. There presently isn't much to be concerned with about this storm, though Bermuda may get more heavy rain and high seas from the storm late this week as it moves out to sea.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Barefoot Sailing Open 2009

Barefoot Sailing Atlanta GA

2010 Hurricane Preparedness Week

Hurricane season begins in the Atlantic Basin in one week. June 1st through November 30th marks the dates for tropical weather formation in teh Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

This year is expected to be stronger than usual with a predicted 15 named storms including 7 - 8 hurricanes and as many as 4 major hurricanes (Sources: AccuWeather, University of Colorado and Tropical Storm Risk).

The key driver for the higher forecast is the loss of El Nino which caused the low level of tropical activity last year. Sea surface temperatures were high enough for storms to form, but they were frequently torn apart by the strong wind shear in the Atlantic that seems to accompany an El Nino in the Pacific.

This year the water temperatures are expected to be just as warm. Additionally, there have been discussions that La Nina is likely to form. la Nina is the antithesis of El Nino, cooler than normal water temperatures in the eastern Pacific. During a La Nina year, hurricane activity is typically very high.

This is the week to make sure that you preparations are in order:

1. Do you have an evacuation plan if you live near the coast?

2. Do you know when you will leave and where you will stay?
Remember - Run from the water, hide from the wind

3. Do you have access to extra food or water if you do decide to stay?

4. If you are going to leave, is your gas tank filled up?

Some people may scoff at the predictions of an active tropical season. You must remember that the forecast if for the entire Atlantic Basin. Many storms form and stay out to sea never making landfall. We have to remember that such a scenario is a GOOD THING! One landfalling hurricane can create major havoc resulting in the loss of life, property, wealth and have a significant impact that lasts for many years.

If you don't want to prepare, just think of all the lives lost from Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Ike. Many of the deaths that did occur were unnecessary and were simply the result of a lack of preparation and awareness.

National Hurricane Preparedness Week 2010 (MyFox Houston)

The National Hurricane Center will be doing a couple new things in 2010.

Partly because of the combination of low winds and high storm surge from Hurricane Ike in 2008, the National Hurricane Center has made adjustments to the Saffir-Simpson scale. It will now be called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale and will maintain the same wind speed ranges as the original Saffir-Simpson Scale for each of the five hurricane categories, but no longer ties specific storm surge and flooding effects to each category.

Another change this season concerns the lead times that the National Hurricane Center uses when issuing watches and warnings for coastlines. Watches and warnings for tropical storms and hurricanes will be issued 12 hours earlier than in previous years.

Tropical storm watches will be issued when tropical storm conditions are possible along the coast within 48 hours. Tropical storm warnings will be issued when those conditions are expected within 36 hours. Similar increases in lead time will apply to hurricane watches and warnings.

More advanced warning is good so that people can get their preparations in order. Hurricanes are like the monster in a horror movie. They slowly hobble across the field (ocean or gulf) towards their victims creeping up foot by foot until they are upon them. As we all yell at the screen "Run Away", for coastal residents that is the correct action.

Once the order is given - GET OUT! Don't hang around because your family has lived here for centuries or think you can protect your property from looters, just git! Take the few things you truly cannot replace and leave. You can deal with the insurance company later to take care of the rest.

Remember STUFF is only STUFF. Stuff is never worth a life.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rare cyclone to affect Yemen and Northern Somalia

A cyclone developed in the open Arabian Sea and is now tracking into the Gulf of Aden. Tropica Cyclone Bandu is expected to track up the center of the gulf but rainfall is expected in both southern Yemen and northern Somalia.

Cyclone in Arabian Sea (Sunday Times)

“The deep depression is presently over the coast of north-east Somalia and it will hit southern parts of Yemen as well. Rough seas prevail during these days”, he said.

Heavy rain in both countries could result in flash flooding.

Unusual tropical cyclone (AccuWeather)

The north coast of Somalia was grazed by Bandu Friday into Saturday with heavy rain and strong winds.

Bandu will pass through the middle of the Gulf of Aden Sunday, keeping the worst effects offshore. However, some rain will reach both the southern coast of Yemen and northern Somalia.

Between 1 and 3 inches of rain could cause flash flooding as Bandu passes. Wind gusts could top 40 mph near the coast, but strong wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph are expected to remain offshore.

Tropical Cyclone Laila slams into Indian coast; weakens

Tropical Cyclone Laila slammed into India's eastern coast with sustained winds of 111 km/hr (69 MPH) near midnight local time Friday morning. Laila made landfall with heavy rain and strong winds killing many people and causing significant flooding.

Tropical Cyclone Laila Lashes India’s East Coast, Killing 22 (BusinessWeek)
Tropical cyclone Laila hit India’s east coast, lashing the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh with heavy rain and claiming at least 22 lives.

The cyclone, which has sustained winds of 111 kilometers (69 miles) per hour, made landfall about 100 kilometers south of the city of Vijayawada at 11:30 p.m. local time yesterday, the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center said.

At least 16 people died in Andhra Pradesh, The Times of India reported, including people washed away in floods or crushed as walls collapsed. About 45,000 people were evacuated to relief camps as rail and road services were disrupted, the report said. The Times reported yesterday six people died in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu.

The heaviest rain was experienced along the coast. Rainfall rates as high as 2 inches per hour fell in some towns and cities.

Cyclone hit areas received an average of 2 inches rainfall per hour (The Hindu)
Coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh which bore the brunt of cyclone Laila received an average of about two inches of rainfall per hour, according to data collected by a NASA satellite.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite which flew over the cyclone yesterday showed that the heaviest rainfall was received just south-east of the centre of circulation and along the coast.

The centre of the storm was close to the town of Bapatla, one of the historical towns and mandals of Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh located 40 miles south of Guntur city, the TRMM images showed.

It also recorded that the maximum sustained winds in the region was about 50 knots, or 57 miles per hour at 5 a.m.

The storm was moving towards the north northwest which would bring it directly over some very mountainous terrain. The rough terrain caused Laila to weaken to a tropical depression earlier today. Rain is continuing in some coastal and interior parts of the state of Orissa.

Cyclone Laila weakens into depression; triggers widespread rainfall in Orissa (Orissa Diary)
Cyclone Laila, which has now turned into a low pressure, triggered widespread rainfall for the second consecutive day on Saturday thereby disrupting normal life in many places in the state.

Coastal and interior parts of the state will experience rainfall in the next 48 hours, the regional meteorological department said.

Cyclonic storm Laila weakened into a depression at 11.30 AM on Friday and then moved north-northeastwards and further weakened into a well-marked low pressure area over north coastal Andhra Pradesh and adjoining Telengana at 5.30 PM.

However, rain and powerful winds triggered by Laila lashed the Odisha coast on Friday. The state has been lashed by rains since Thursday evening.
Video: Life after cyclone Laila (NDTV)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TSR Storm Alert - Severe Cyclonic Storm LAILA

Tropical cyclone 1B in the north Indian Ocean has grown into a severe tropical cyclone.Severe cyclone Lila has sustained winds of 75 MPH with gusts of 90 MPH and is heading for the Indian coast at approximately 6 - 8 MPH. 

N Indian Ocean: Storm Alert issued at 19 May, 2010 6:00 GMT
Severe Cyclonic Storm LAILA (01B) is forecast to strike land to the following likelihood(s) at the given lead time(s):
Red Alert Country(s) or Province(s)
        probability for CAT 1 or above is 35% in about 36 hours
        probability for TS is 85% within 12 hours

Yellow Alert City(s) and Town(s)
    Kavali (15.0 N, 80.0 E)
        probability for CAT 1 or above is 30% in about 24 hours
        probability for TS is 75% within 12 hours
    Nellore (14.4 N, 80.0 E)
        probability for CAT 1 or above is 20% in about 24 hours
        probability for TS is 75% within 12 hours
    Machilipatnam (16.2 N, 81.2 E)
        probability for CAT 1 or above is 25% in about 36 hours
        probability for TS is 60% in about 24 hours

Green Alert City(s) and Town(s)
    Madras (13.1 N, 80.2 E)
        probability for TS is 50% currently

Note that
    Red Alert (Severe) is CAT 1 or above to between 31% and 100% probability.
    Yellow Alert (Elevated) is CAT 1 or above to between 10% and 30% probability, or TS to above 50% probability.
    Green Alert (Low) is TS to between 31% and 50% probability.
    CAT 1 means Severe Cyclonic Storm strength winds of at least 74 mph, 119 km/h or 64 knots 1-min sustained.
    TS means Tropical Storm strength winds of at least 39 mph, 63 km/h or 34 knots 1-min sustained.

For graphical forecast information and further details please visit

This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by UCL, Aon Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre. TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

East PAC season starts today

The tropical season in the Eastern Pacific begins today, May 15th. The season starts earlier in the Eastern Pacific than it does in the Atlantic Basin or even in the Central Pacific, both of which begin on June 1st. The Western Pacific can be active essentially all year long.

The Eastern Pacific typically has more named storms than the Atlantic does. 2009 was a rather busy year with 18 named storms including 7 hurricanes, 4 of which became major Cat 3 or greater. The primary reason for such a strong season was the presence of El Nino which shifted warm sea waters to the eastern portions of the Pacific Basin.

Meteorologist Erin Jordan from KOLD in Tuscon, AZ points out that average seaons in the Eastern Pacific have a greater number of storms than both El Nino and La Nina years do. This could be due to increases in wind shear during these peorids (I'm guessing, I certainly do not know that for a fact), but the expectation is that this year's hurricane season for the Eastern Pacific is expected to be milder that normal.

East Pacific Hurricane Season starts Saturday (KOLD)

With El Nino officially gone from the equatorial East Pacific, the water temperatures are not as favorable for tropical storm development.
However, the data from the last 50 years shows that an average year has more named storms than both La Nina or El Nino years.

If a La Nina forms, cooler than average sea surface temperatures dampen the formation of tropical storms even more than in El Nino years.

Right now, the equatorial East Pacific is in the neutral phase with near average sea surface temperatures.

However, some of the global models that forecast swings in El Nino and La Nina are predicting a swing towards La Nina, which are cooler than average sea surface temperatures.

If this happens, less tropical storms may form and we may not see as many Gulf of California moisture surges to rev up our afternoon monsoon storms.

On the flip side, the overall monsoon circulation is more favorable for day to day storm development over the Southwest.

There is much debate right now as to whether La Nina will form or not. If La Nina does develop, cold water will shift towards North America which will result in even less activity in the Eastern Pacific.

2010 Atlantic Hurricanes (courtesy of

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Radar (courtesy of

NOAA West Atlantic & Caribbean Radar (courtesy of

NOAA East Atlantic Radar (courtesy of