Tropical Storm Agatha, Pacaya volcano kill 15 in Guatemala; oil spill update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:39 PM GMT on May 30, 2010

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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!

Jeff Masters

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Live video link from the ROV monitoring the damaged riser

I really gotta get me an OIL WELL that flows so well and this easily....It seems like an endless supply!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting altesticstorm10:
I wouldn't count on something that far south in the Caribbean to form. Systems in the Caribbean just don't form that far south. The last one was Ida. The second to last? Beta, all the way back in 2005.


Getting bored already, eh? :P
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1434. Levi32
120 hours...most aggressive run yet.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
1432. Patrap
Watch that wicked Up cycle last night and one just knew it was trouble skyepony..that thing wrung out and the water was the killer.

I found this cruising around and went,..Okay,..where has this been.

Interesting stuff

PSD Map Room Climate Products
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1431. Patrap
It Looks like a Death Star Schematic skyepony.

I like it
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1430. Skyepony (Mod)
Seems like we've lost at least 1/4 of the weather stations in the area, on Wundermap since Agatha made landfall.
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1429. Levi32
New 0z NOGAPS still has a low north of Panama in 72 hours.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564

ngp 2010053012 Forecast slp Java Animation
SW Caribbean showing a Blob
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1426. Levi32
Quoting altesticstorm10:

Dang, don't want to fall behind 2005 so early in the game, especially this year when we have a chance. Is there any chance this setup could repeat, or is there a chance that in a week or so another, stronger storm will get into the NW Caribbean and form and be a repeat of Arlene/Alberto/Barry?


Conditions will be fairly favorable in the Caribbean this week, but that will mean nothing if we don't have a disturbance to take advantage of that. Our next hint at something comes in 3-4 days north of Panama, but beyond that there is not much in the near future.

It means very little if we get our first named storm before or after 2005 did.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
1424. Skyepony (Mod)
This is a GOES 13 product that shows what pressure the cloud tops are at.
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1423. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
iam out

later in the am

enjoy your last non season day
just hours remain

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
1422. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15626
Look at this LOOP.....Possibly!
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1419. xcool






Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15626
Well im off to bed but before i go i just want to say happy memorial day!
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1417. Levi32
Quoting altesticstorm10:
Where was the Subtropical Jet in 2005 when Arlene formed?


Where it usually is, between 20-25N. There was an upper trough over the GOM which helped ventilate the area where Arlene formed. The difference is that in 2005, the upper ridge amplified into the eastern GOM and provided low shear for Arlene, which allowed her to strengthen up to landfall.

June 8th:





June 10th:




Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
Quoting Levi32:


I have to assume you mean in the Caribbean, because no such window will be available in the gulf.


I think we will get a small window of around 20kts winds or less in SW Florida South for a short window....maybe 12-18hours.
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1414. scott39
Quoting Hurricanes101:
not much convection with this area, if it can't build that then it won't amount to much
Why isnt the convection building? Its moist where its at.
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Quoting Levi32:
The GFS believes this tropical wave will be trouble in the eastern Pacific in a couple days.



New 0z GFS 48 hours:



GFS also showing just an increase of moisture for Florida from ex-Agatha and nothing more
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
1411. xcool
TampaSpin nice image..
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15626
...
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
not much convection with this area, if it can't build that then it won't amount to much
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
1408. Levi32
The GFS believes this tropical wave will be trouble in the eastern Pacific in a couple days.



New 0z GFS 48 hours:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
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1406. Levi32
Quoting TampaSpin:


If you read backwards i said a brief and small window of lower shear could allow this to develop!


I have to assume you mean in the Caribbean, because no such window will be available in the gulf.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
1405. hercj
Quoting Weather456:


I understand your concern but the surface circulation did dissipate. Since the mountains only extend to 850 mb, the mid-level circulation remained intact. Now the NHC does not track mid-level circulations or we would have 40+ named storms each year. So for them to issue the last advisory on the storm is not an indication of writing it off but rather to signify that the cyclone is no longer trackable under their operations manual.

Now I think the NHC was aware that it may regenerate and then issue the necessary products when they see signs of it.


Yes I agree with you. I was thinking they were closing the book on 90E and stood ready to open 91L if needed. I should not have given the impression I was taking them to task for that. I was really trying to say that in there last advisory on Agatha no mention was made of possible regeneration. In my opinion there should have been. Thanks 456.
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Quoting Levi32:


Why would we get a tropical cyclone under 40-60 knots of vertical wind shear? No model, even the CMC, is saying the subtropical jet will leave the gulf, and it would be quite unnatural for it to do so this time of year.


If you read backwards i said a brief and small window of lower shear could allow this to develop!
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1403. Levi32
Quoting TampaSpin:


Does not make Meterological Sense.......LMAO! OK


Why would we get a tropical cyclone under 40-60 knots of vertical wind shear? No model, even the CMC, is saying the subtropical jet will leave the gulf, and it would be quite unnatural for it to do so this time of year.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
Quoting Levi32:


Which is likely why the floater got moved over there. I'm sure they are keeping a watchful eye on things.


I agree.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1401. Levi32
Quoting pottery:
Two things--
Some video and a report on the situation in Guatemala- up to 3 feet of rain fell in some areas--from BBC website

The upper level winds over Trinidad and the Central Atl into south America are moving west now. First time in Months!!
See the Central Atlantic rainbow loops.
The fun is getting closer.........


I was noticing that very pronounced easterly flow over your area and across South America. The equatorial ridge is up over the Caribbean now. You're right...the "fun" isn't far away.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
Quoting Hurricanes101:
Im only seeing an increase in moisture shown by the GFS

no storm
Yep thats all i see as well nothing tropical yet but be patient they will come
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Quoting Levi32:


Which is likely why the floater got moved over there. I'm sure they are keeping a watchful eye on things.


You sure about that??
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1398. EricSFL
Hi xcool
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Quoting Levi32:


Well...that's uh....24 hours old. The whole idea of a tropical storm from this in the Gulf of Mexico does not make Meteorological sense anyway. We shouldn't even be considering it.


Does not make Meterological Sense.......LMAO! OK
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1396. pottery
Two things--
Some video and a report on the situation in Guatemala- up to 3 feet of rain fell in some areas--from BBC website

The upper level winds over Trinidad and the Central Atl into south America are moving west now. First time in Months!!
See the Central Atlantic rainbow loops.
The fun is getting closer.........
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1395. xcool



new
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15626
1394. Levi32
Quoting Weather456:


I understand your concern but the surface circulation did dissipate. Since the mountains only extend to 850 mb, the mid-level circulation remained intact. Now the NHC does not track mid-level circulations or we would have 40+ named storms each year. So for them to issue the last advisory on the storm is not an indication of writing it off but rather to signify that the cyclone is no longer trackable under their operations manual.

Now I think the NHC was aware that it may regenerate and then issue the necessary products when they see signs of it.


Which is likely why the floater got moved over there. I'm sure they are keeping a watchful eye on things.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
Im only seeing an increase in moisture shown by the GFS

no storm
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7397
1392. Levi32
Quoting TampaSpin:





It is on my Site!


Well...that's uh....24 hours old. The whole idea of a tropical storm from this in the Gulf of Mexico does not make Meteorological sense anyway. We shouldn't even be considering it.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
Quoting hercj:


456 I am partial to recon so I am obliged to say this. They need to get a recon flight into this system on Tuesday. Writing it off as dissipated after it made landfall when there were a number of indicators that it might regenerate was, once again in my opinion not very prudent.


I understand your concern but the surface circulation did dissipate. Since the mountains only extend to 850 mb, the mid-level circulation remained intact. Now the NHC does not track mid-level circulations or we would have 40+ named storms each year. So for them to issue the last advisory on the storm is not an indication of writing it off but rather to signify that the cyclone is no longer trackable under their operations manual.

Now I think the NHC was aware that it may regenerate and then issue the necessary products when they see signs of it.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting Levi32:


May I ask where you're seeing that? I see nothing like a storm on the GFS.





It is on my Site!
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.