Archive for the ‘Hurricane Tomas’ Tag

HAITI IS NOT LIKELY TO ESCAPE TOMAS

Two independent left clicks will enlarge to the fullest.

Though Tomas has weakened to a tropical depression, indications are that intensification to at least a category 1 hurricane will occur in the predicted journey northward.  But, even as a lesser storm (tropical depression or tropical storm) the system can cause severe problems with fatalities.  Just last month 23 people died in Haiti from the results of regular seasonal rainfall events, according to Dr. Jeff Masters’ blog this morning!  The pitiful deforestation of that country allows for rapidly flooding streams and mass wasting events (e.g. mud slides) which can be deadly.

Certain deadly diseases can be spread by contaminated water which is a likely outcome of the flooding that Tomas will trigger.  Cholera is probably the greatest current concern.

I am alarmed by the projected probability path of the storm (see this morning’s cone of uncertainty above) because, if it turns out this way, Haiti will be under the influence of the right hand leading quadrant of Tomas.  That quadrant is typically the one possessing the strongest winds, most prominent storm surges, and greatest probability for imbedded mesoscale tornadic systems.

Of course, Haiti is not the only place that should be concerned.  For example, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the Bahamas need to be “ready.”

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Tomas May Invade Haiti as a Hurricane

Plot Courtesy of Jonathan Vigh - Colorado State University

Even when you left click twice to get full enlargement, most of the individual model forecast plots are hard to read individually because of the “cluster” of agreement in anticipated general trend.  The only glaring exception you see is the CLP-5 which should be no surprise to those who study these spaghetti charts.  CLP-5 is the “CLImatology-PERsistance model 5-day” of the National Hurricane Center and is sometimes referred to as the CLIPER model for obvious reasons.  It tends to project the path of tropical systems as though they were going to conform to their “past track.”  So, more often than not, when there are changes in the steering influences the storms actually stray significantly from the persistence route.  Most other models account for anticipated steering changes.  This does not mean that the CLP-5 is of no value.  To the contrary, it is very useful tool particularly in accessing forecast accuracy of other models.

It appears that Tomas could become a serious problem for Haiti.  The country is over 98% deforested and that opens up a whole can of worms with regard to flooding, mud slides, and soil erosion.  Some small fraction of the deforestation has been due to natural causes (e.g. Hurricane Hazel in 1954) but the vast majority has been due to the impact of humans and their practices upon the environment, the poor management of same, and the general human and political condition. It is my sincere hope that the storm weakens significantly but the National Hurricane Center currently has the “weighted mean” plot (within the cone of uncertainty) taking it through Haiti as a hurricane.

I copied this 2002 image below using my free Google Earth download.  With yellow it shows a small part of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic at the Artibonite river.  The greater amount of deforestation on the side of Haiti (west or left side of the river) is clearly evident.  The eye altitude is 26,293 feet; a horizontal scale appears on the lower left.

Image Courtesy of Google Earth

My dear, long-time friend, Chuck Knighton, and his wife, Helen, are residents of northern Barbados and as of yet I have heard no news.  I do know that they have frequent power interruptions with ordinary thunderstorm weather – so communication could be down for quite a while.

Update on that 1:40 pm EDT 11-1-2010 – An e-mail from Chuck’s mother:

“Hi Toney,
Thanks so much for calling about the situation in Barbados! I have just recently spoken with Chuck’s sister in law who lives in the south of Barbados. She reports that they are all OK and the property sustained fallen trees and lots of rain! They do have household water, AND electricity (praise be!) and no one sustained injuries. Great news! They do not have phone service as yet, and I was really glad to have touched bases with someone!
Thanks again!!”