Tropical Storm Agatha, Pacaya volcano kill 15 in Guatemala; oil spill update
Tropical Storm Agatha, the first Eastern Pacific named storm of 2010, was short lived but deadly. Agatha was a tropical storm for just 12 hours, making landfall Saturday on the Pacific coast of Guatemala as a 45 mph tropical storm. However, the storm brought huge amounts of moisture inland that continue to be wrung out as heavy rains by the high mountains of Guatemala and the surrounding nations of Central America. So far, flooding and landslides have killed twelve people in Guatemala, and one person in neighboring El Salvador. According to the excellent Guatemala weather site, climaya.com, rainfall amounts of up to 152 mm (six inches) in 24 hours have occurred in some regions of Guatemala. The National Hurricane Center is warning that rainfall amounts of up to 30 inches may fall the next few days in some mountainous regions near where the storm has dissipated. Adding to the mayhem is fallout from the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala, which began erupting three days ago. At least three people have been killed by the volcano, located about 25 miles south of the capital, Guatemala City. The volcano has destroyed 800 homes with lava and brought moderate ash falls to the capital.
Figure 1. Visible satellite image of Tropical Storm Agatha at landfall. The storm was intensifying right up until landfall, and had an impressive "hot tower" of building cumulonimbus clouds near its center that brought heavy rains to Guatemala.
Figure 2. Flooding in Quetzaltenango, Zone 2, in Guatemala on May 29, 2010, after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Agatha. Image credit: Carlos Diaz, climaya.com
Oil spill update
Light onshore winds out of the south are expected to blow over the northern Gulf of Mexico today through Tuesday, resulting increased threats of oil to the Alabama and Mississippi barrier islands, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA. Winds are expected to shift to southwesterly on Wednesday and continue through Friday, increasing in force to 10 - 20 knots late in the week as a cold front approaches the Gulf. These persistent and strengthening southwesterly winds will likely bring oil very close to shore from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle by next weekend.
Oil spill resources
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post Wednesday with answers to some of the common questions I get about the spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA trajectory forecasts
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command web site
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Surface current forecasts from NOAA's HYCOM model
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami
Join the "Hurricane Haven" with Dr. Jeff Masters: a new Internet radio show
Beginning next week, I'll be experimenting with a live 1-hour Internet radio show called "Hurricane Haven." The show will be aired at 4pm EDT on Tuesdays, with the first show June 1. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. Some topics I'll cover on the first show:
1) What's going on in the tropics right now
2) Preview of the coming hurricane season
3) How a hurricane might affect the oil spill
4) How the oil spill might affect a hurricane
5) New advancements in hurricane science presented at this month's AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology
6) Haiti's vulnerability to a hurricane this season
I hope you can tune in to the broadcast, which will be at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. If not, the show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.
I'll probably be back Monday with a quick update. Have a great holiday weekend!