Alma dies without causing a major disaster; tornadoes rip Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:03 PM GMT on May 30, 2008

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Tropical Storm Alma has dissipated over the high mountains of Honduras, and thankfully did not dump enough rain to cause a major flooding disaster in Central America. At 3pm EDT yesterday, Alma became the first tropical storm since records began in 1949 to make landfall on the Pacific coast of Central America. All previous Eastern Pacific storms have hit Mexico, which is considered part of North America. Alma came ashore in Nicaragua, near the Honduras border, as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds. So far, one person has been killed in Nicaragua, due to a fallen power cable. However, Alma has not dumped enough rain to cause widespread flooding--rainfall amounts in Nicaragua the past two day have been 3-8 inches. Costa Rica has had rains of similar magnitude, which have caused isolated mudslides that have blocked roads. Additional rain from Alma's remnants should total less than two inches in Costa Rica and four inches in Nicaragua. However, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula are likely to get 4-8 inches of rain over the next two days from this system, which could cause significant flooding and mud slides.


Figure 1. Current satellite image of Alma's remnants.

There is a large area of disturbed weather that has developed in the Western Caribbean between Jamaica and the Yucatan Peninsula in the past few hours, in association with a trough of low pressure extending from the center of Alma. This morning's 7:37am EDT QuikSCAT pass showed winds of up to 50 knots (58 mph) in this region, but no hint of a circulation or wind shift. It is possible that this disturbed area could start to develop on its own later today, as a westward-moving tropical wave currently near Jamaica interacts with it. This area should expand and spread into Honduras, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatan by Saturday. However, I'm not expecting a major flooding disaster with heavy loss of life anywhere in Central America from Alma's remnants. The GFS model is predicting that moisture from Alma will eventually work its way north and bring heavy rains to Florida by June 7. No models are predicting a tropical storm in the Atlantic during the coming week.


Figure 2. Doppler radar winds from the Kearney, Nebraska tornadoes of May 29, 2008. Note that a twin set of vorticies appears in this image, denoting that two adjacent tornadoes may have hit.

Tornadoes rip the Midwest again Thursday; tornadoes expected today in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri
Numerous strong tornadoes raked the Midwest last night, adding to the extensive damage already wreaked by one of the worst months of tornado damage in U.S. history. Last night's most significant destruction occurred in Jewell, Kansas, and Kearney, Nebraska. In Jewell, numerous businesses were destroyed and the town water tower toppled. In Kearney, multiple twisters hit, and a 90-car train was knocked off of its tracks. Wunderblogger Mike Theiss caught up to the Kearney tornado, and describes his experience in his blog today. All told, there were 55 tornado reports Thursday, but no deaths or injuries.

The Storm Prediction Center is calling for a "Moderate" risk of severe weather across Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri this afternoon---one level below their "High" risk level that was posted yesterday. Expect another significant tornado outbreak today. The Weather Underground Severe Weather page and Tornado page are good places to go to follow the severe weather. Also, tune in to the chase accounts and awesome storm photos from Wunderblogger Mike Theiss. Mike is in Tornado Alley this week, performing his annual chase efforts.

Jeff Masters

TIV 1 under thunderstorm (MikeTheiss)
Photo of the original TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle) driving out from underneath thunderstorm. Photo copyright Mike Theiss
TIV 1 under thunderstorm
Osbourne Kansas Tornado (MikeTheiss)
Blurry photo of the Osbourne Kansas tornado taken while driving. Photo copyright Mike Theiss
Osbourne Kansas Tornado
Storm Chasers with eerie skies (MikeTheiss)
Photo of Cloud 9 Tours members parked underneath some really eerie looking skies. Photo copyright Mike Theiss
Storm Chasers with eerie skies
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1016. SpaceThrilla1207
6:13 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Please don't put me on ignore, Drakoen, MLC.

anyways, do you guies think there's a chance of the NHC calling this a TS before landfall?
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1015. TheCaneWhisperer
6:13 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
And for all intensive purposes, Alma went in where Felix came out and 90L (ALMA) is going in where Dean went in.
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1014. moonlightcowboy
1:15 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
Have a good sleep, Skye! Thanks! U2, Drakoen and any going! Enjoyed it.
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1013. CatastrophicDL
6:14 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Drak in looking at the atl waves, I'm not seeing much convection associated with those east of 40W. What am I missing?
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1012. Drakoen
6:14 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
I'm gonna go too. Good night (or morning) everyone!
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1011. moonlightcowboy
1:06 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
Photobucket

...impressive looking!
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1010. TheCaneWhisperer
6:06 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Mother Nature is ruthless coming back to the path of Dean last year.
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1009. Skyepony (Mod)
6:05 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Well that ship left. I'm gonna crash a while too.
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1008. Drakoen
6:03 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
The convective diagnosis also favors convection ahead of the wave axis with the tropical wave of the Africa coast. The 925hpa-700hpa shear shows increasing shear ahead of the wave axis in the upstream.
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1007. TheCaneWhisperer
6:03 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Looking closer @ IR2, seems to be just north, meandering around the anaylized low.
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1006. moonlightcowboy
1:01 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
- CDL, ur welcome.

- SJ, not sure about that. Sats do show some low level westerly flow still. The tops you say are closer, and I'm not sure that checks with the 200mb flow. I tried to catch a chart a bit ago, but the site won't let me in. Earlier, the 200mb flow was w to e. Also, earlier the center was (I'm thinking I remember this) about 50 miles or so offshore. Right now, to me, it looks fairly close, but hey, my eyes are foggy, too.

Something funny about the CDO? Nothing would really surprise me about this system. It truly has been a very great first chase of the season...evil twins and all!
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1005. TheCaneWhisperer
6:01 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
1004. jpritch
5:57 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Hmm... What's up with the blob that's centered over Tabasco and whipping its way toward the new low? Is it starting to spin, or is that just an illusion?
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1003. SpaceThrilla1207
5:59 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Under which white dot?
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1002. moonlightcowboy
12:58 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
btw, if you haven't stopped by JP's blog on the TOP 25 STORMS and their impact, please do! He put a lot of work and effort into these postings. Very informative and entertaining, too.

GR8 work, JP, thanks!
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1001. StormJunkie
5:58 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Ok, NNE based on that TCW.

I was going by the GHCC image I posted. Again, I am clueless because I did not get to see the vis.
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1000. Drakoen
5:57 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
I agree with the NHC. The wave axis should be further east closer to 16W-15W where the lower to mid level circulation is.
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999. CatastrophicDL
5:54 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
MLC, I can't believe you took the time to figure it out! Thanks!

SJ, don't we usually see the convection firing differently if the COC is going to relocate? Could the existing tropical wave in the area aid in the repositioning?

CIMSS shows vorticity increasing SE of 90L. No realy convection, but with the moist air can we see something develop there?
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998. StormJunkie
5:56 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
mlc, I am jaded because I did not get to see vis on this all day.

The center is not far from the coast, but from the looks of the coldest cloud tops, it looks like the upper level circ may have shifted to this area. Would take the lower levels some time to catch up? Something is just odd about the whole thing.

Sure wish I had seen some visible earlier....
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997. TheCaneWhisperer
5:53 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
I don't know SJ. Circulation seems well north of the low on the floater, not sure about east though, convection is too heavy.
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996. moonlightcowboy
12:51 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
984. There's some low level westerly flow there. Could be slightly, SJ. It's pretty much stationary, barely moving.
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995. StormJunkie
5:54 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
What, to turn it into the CMC or because it did such a good job?
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994. TheCaneWhisperer
5:52 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Better buy a 12 pack for that one, lol.
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993. StormJunkie
5:51 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Reposition E under the white dot?

Y'all give me some thoughts on this....

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992. Drakoen
5:50 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Could they reword this lol? I had to read it 3 times to understand what they were saying.

...TROPICAL WAVES...

A NEW WAVE WAS ANALYZED ALONG 18W S OF 16N. THIS WAVE AXIS BASED
ON MIMIC-TPW APPEARS TO BE THE LEADING EDGE OF THE WAVE RATHER
THAN THE TRUE WAVE AXIS AND MAY NEED TO BE RELOCATED LATER.

SCATTERED/NUMEROUS STRONG CONVECTION IS WITHIN THE ITCZ FROM
7N-10N BETWEEN 17W-21W.
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990. TheCaneWhisperer
5:50 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
So, at the end of the day, the only kicker is the sticky ridge.
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989. StormJunkie
5:48 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
986.

Yea TCW, I already owe it a beer, but Drak told me not to buy it one or it would turn in to the CMC...lmao!
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988. Drakoen
5:48 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
985. jphurricane2006 5:48 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Lets do some investingating as too who killed the blog shall we Drak?

Investigator: scottvb, where were you when the blog was killed?

scottvb: I was innocent sir, I was home giving a high five to my blow up doll

Investigator: Oh so is that what you kids call it these days!!


LOL!
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987. moonlightcowboy
12:46 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
CDL, at that speed the correct answer would be about 35 hours - so, I wasn't far off.
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986. TheCaneWhisperer
5:45 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
At the end of the day, the GFS did awesome this time. Second low out in the EPAC, just as predicted.
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984. StormJunkie
5:45 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
mlc, you are not feeling the slight reposition E?

I sure wish the NRL microwave images were up to date.

And what is up with QS? Old man feeling older?
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983. Drakoen
5:45 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
.
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982. Drakoen
5:42 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
The NHC could still make it TD01 and have a track into the BOC. But whatever, I don't run things at the NHC and they are probably used to each other and their methods for calling things.
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981. TheCaneWhisperer
5:40 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
You too SJ!
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980. moonlightcowboy
12:39 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
30 hrs? 90L will be well inland before that takes place if my math is right? Ugh, too late for math!
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979. TheCaneWhisperer
5:35 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
I was one of those people smmc, I can relate to your comment. Funny thing is that I played football and baseball, was good too, just had Red Hair and got picked on a lot.
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977. StormJunkie
5:37 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Wind speed rising.

Pressure too, but could be due to slight movement W and tightening of circulation.
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976. CatastrophicDL
5:36 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
If the wave at 77W is moving W at 15 knots how soon can it affect 90L with additional convection?
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975. Drakoen
5:36 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
90L is moving at 3 miles an hour its still off-shore moving to the WNW.
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974. moonlightcowboy
12:33 AM CDT on May 31, 2008
Very slow, CDL. From the latest TWD:

Caribbean...
the remnants of tropical system Alma is in the Gulf of Honduras as a 1005 mb surface low near 17n87w moving NW and will move inland over Belize and the Yucatan over the next 12 hours. Broad upper ridge remains over the Caribbean anchored over the Gulf of Honduras covering the area W of 67w and maintaining deep tropical moisture mainly W of 80w. Clusters of scattered showers/isolated thunderstorms are over the W Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico W of 82w to over Central America and Cuba. Upper level moisture with embedded scattered showers covers the remainder of the Greater Antilles to Puerto Rico. Mostly clear skies cover the S Caribbean S of 14n E of 82w. Moderate/strong easterly trade winds remain across the entire basin.


Navy still has gusts of 30 kts.
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973. StormJunkie
5:35 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
971. I feel that TCW.

And good to see ya
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972. CatastrophicDL
5:35 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Funny! Why is that when I am sick in bed and can't sleep not only is the storm I'm watching not moving, but there is nothing good on TV?
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971. TheCaneWhisperer
5:26 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Barring any changing events, I believe we'll have TD01 in the Atlantic this morning. Heavy convection is about to cover the center, conditions are good.
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970. StormJunkie
5:34 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
I am wundering if center is gonna jump ship just East?

Something seems a little fish about the cdo.
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968. StormJunkie
5:32 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
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967. CatastrophicDL
5:32 AM GMT on May 31, 2008
Can anyone tell me how fast 90L is moving?
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966. moonlightcowboy
12:31 AM CDT on May 31, 2008


Yeah, there's some downpour, and still looks slightly offshore, too.
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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.