Tomas: Good news and bad news.

Tomas is nicely demonstrating the degree to which meteorological models depend on the context of experience. This season I’ve read most of the discussions and advisories for most of the Atlantic storms, and generally speaking, the forecasts change only a little from time to time once a storm is named, and the final realized path and strength changes match very closely with with was predicted. Occasionally a storm is more poorly behaved than that. But Tomas, which formed in a place no other storms formed this year and that has existed under rather unusual conditions is giving the Hurricane Prediction center a run for its money. Position estimates made last night were scrapped this morning and replaced with a much adjusted itinerary, and this morning’s strength estimates have been modified significantly this evening.

So, the following is very much subject to change, but..

The good news: Tomas will probably not achieve Category Three status, or even Category Two status before it hits land. It is predicted to remain a Category One storm. This is still a serious storm (see below!), however.

The bad news: Tomas is predicted to pretty much smack directly into Port-au-Prince. The exact track is of course not known yet, but the specific trajectory being put forth by the hurricane prediction center has the eye of Tomas passing just to the west of Haiti’s capital city, which is not on the southern coast but rather at the head of a west-side bay. Nonetheless, the storm is going to overrun the region recently hit by a major earthquake which I’m sure you remember.

Below (as promised above): The fact that the wind strength of Tomas is reduced is nice and all, but in a place like Haiti, a bigger problem may be the amount of rain that falls. I have no idea how much rain is going to fall with this storm. Probably less than the average Category One hurricane because it is physically smaller, but this does not mean that major flooding and landslides and so on can be ruled out.

Despite the fact that the current prediction is as stated above, this is still four days off, and still quite uncertain. In fact, there are no watches or warnings in effect yet. If you have any interest in the region, however, keep an eye on Tomas.

Comments

  1. #1 Peter Damian
    November 1, 2010

    Hello again. I’m a bit puzzled about this blog. Is it a blog about elections (I find these very boring)? Or is it a blog about scientific models (I find these much more interesting)?

  2. #2 stripey_cat
    November 1, 2010

    Eeep. Not least because all the soil disturbed by the earthquake won’t have had time to settle and develop a really robust vegetation binding again.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    November 1, 2010

    Peter, if you want to know what kind of blog it is, I suggest you look at the title. It should tell you everything you need to know.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    November 1, 2010

    Peter, here is a list of what I blog about: http://tinyurl.com/3n4qan

  5. #5 Eric Lund
    November 1, 2010

    @stripey_cat: Lack of vegetation would be an issue even if the earthquake hadn’t happened. A few years ago Haiti got a close brush from a tropical storm, and the death toll from the resulting flooding was in the hundreds. I am told that it’s easy to spot the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the air: the Dominican Republic has trees, while Haiti has lost more than 98 percent of its original forest cover. That is one of the reasons why Haiti has remained an economic basket case.