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Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2020 1:30 pm
by Paul Tallet

While wreaking havoc over central America, Eta itself also took on major damage over the mountainous terrain, barely a Tropical Depression as it emerged into the Bay of Honduras. Well in fact, Eta is part of a massive circulation and weather experts have had some trouble getting a fix on the centre of circulation while there are several vortices across an area extending from the Pacific coast to the Cayman Islands ... Eta has simply been ripped to pieces over land.

It has become a little clearer as to where Eta could pull itself back together as the focus is now on 3 different areas of circulation in the west Caribbean sea that are approaching the Caymans and Cuba and it seems that the large storm could get it's act together as it approaches Florida.

2 outcomes are possible as the storm is steered by a low pressure system over the northern Gulf and then kind of stopped in it's tracks by high pressure in the Atlantic. Eta will either merge with the Low and lose most of it's tropical characteristics or reform into a more compact Tropical Storm.

Both of these scenarios mean heavy rain for Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas over the next 5 - 7 days. The tropical status of Eta will determine wind speeds and potential impacts mostly on the east side of the Storm (Florida's Atlantic coast). Landfall could be along the northern Gulf coast about a week from now.

It is very complex and the outlook could change every day so I may be posting a few updates.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:21 pm
by Paul Tallet

Eta could become the most destructive storm of the season as it's centre begins to move over central Cuba and having left a trail of devastation over central America.

The storm's wind field has become much larger with tropical storm winds across a span of more than 220 miles, however the main area of heavy rain is well to the north and east of the centre and this explains why Cuba and Florida and the Bahamas have had heavy rain for some time now because south westerly shear is pushing the cloud tops away from the storm's centre.

Eta's next challenge is the landmass of Cuba and how Eta will look when it emerges into the Florida Straits from the north coast of Cuba. I have no reason to suggest that Cuba will harm the storm when considering it's ability to survive over the mountainous terrain of Nicaragua and Honduras.

If Eta is in good shape on arrival in the Florida Straits there is a real chance that it could regain hurricane status and I will then doff my cap to the speculative weather professionals that I scorned last week before Eta had even reached landfall in Nicaragua.

The biggest problem with Eta in terms of the damage it could cause will be the lack of steering currents and a very slack environment but high pressure to the east is likely to prevent Eta moving in a more easterly direction which is normally the default. So Eta is likely to traverse the Florida Keys and go up the west side of Florida in the north east Gulf. But this track is going to be slow and Eta will be close to or around Florida for most, if not all, of the coming week.

As I mentioned earlier, the most potent weather of Eta is likely to remain on the east / northeast side of the storm. That means Florida and possibly the Bahamas and I would expect the strong winds will cause storm surges along the east coast of Florida even though Eta is spinning far to the west in the Gulf. Rainfall could be up to 12 inches (1 foot).

Due to Eta's increasing size, further rainfall amounts will likely top up the rainfall already dumped over Jamaica, the Caymans and Cuba.

So the week ahead is looking very bleak for the northern Caribbean.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:18 pm
by Paul Tallet

I have had considerable work pressure which has prevented me from posting an earlier update to cover the increased storm activity in the tropics of the Atlantic so I hope this post will make up for it ...

Lets start with Tropical Storm Eta ... this system has become a nuisance as it has zig-zagged it's way through the west and north Caribbean, visiting Cuba and Florida twice. Eta has confounded the Weather Models and the professional forecasters that were generally in agreement that the system would turn north after it's second visit to Cuba on the nation's west side.

The weather patterns have changed so that, instead of going north and dying from dry air well off the Gulf Coast, the storm is being steered over the north of Florida and out into the Atlantic. As has been the case throughout Eta's life, wind shear from the west has tilted the vortex of the storm to the east with most of the heavy rain and stronger winds on the eastern side of the system. As a consequence, Florida has had a real slapping on it's east and southern coasts and now the west coast of Florida and the north of the State is most prone to the worst of what Eta has left, having briefly attained hurricane status earlier today.

Theta is only worth a mention, being in the middle of the Atlantic with little threat to major landmasses although it may come close to Madeira. This storm will be remembered for being the 29th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, beating the record of 28 named storms in 2005. I did wonder if Theta may reach the warm waters of the Mediterranean to become a rare 'Medicane' but that does not look like happening.

Another large disturbance near Puerto Rico is of concern and the NHC is giving this an 80% chance of development by the weekend and possibly a track similar to Eta, putting Nicaragua and Honduras at threat again. Depending on how quickly this develops and it's strength it may veer north of these areas and go for Belize or the Yucatan Peninsula ... early days, but this one has a good chance of becoming the 30th named storm of the season.

But 2005 was an exceptional season that produced Katrina and the lesser known Wilma that became the most powerful hurricane ever in the west Caribbean ... it will be interesting to know the total energy released in 2020 compared to 2005 because although there have been some damaging storms, I am not convinced that 2020 will match the energy levels of 2005.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:53 pm
by Paul Tallet

The hurricane strikes along the Gulf Coast earlier in the season seemed bad enough but Nicaragua and Honduras are facing more potential weather violence early next week.

As twice designated Hurricane Eta left the eastern shores of the US and dissipated, a new threat has emerged in the central Caribbean Sea. I mentioned this new development in yesterday's post and now it has been designated tropical depression status by the NHC and will surely be the 31st named storm of the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season.

As of now, I have only seen one weather forecaster reporting on this, apart from the NHC of course, but early indications are that this system's track takes it to the Nicaragua/Honduras border area, just like Eta but Eta went a little further south into Nicaragua.

The big question is the strength because this system is going to move through the south west Caribbean Sea which, at this time of year, is the best place any ambitious hurricane could possibly hope for. The NHC's rather conservative estimates of a borderline Cat 2/3 hurricane may need to be adjusted a little upwards, especially if the system takes a more northerly track towards Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula which will give the system more 'sea-time' ... more strengthening.

It is early days but I am hoping that this system won't compound the problems caused by Eta for Nicaragua and Honduras.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 1:56 pm
by Paul Tallet

Iota seems to be gathering itself together in the south west Caribbean and moving in a southwest direction over the last 12 hours. A turn to the west is expected imminently and there is general agreement between the models that landfall will be late Monday night and that Iota could be a category 4 hurricane at that time.

There is nothing to stop or slow this process but Iota is not yet quite altogether as a single vortex to achieve this level although it is expected to do so within 12 hours when it is likely to be a hurricane. If Iota does achieve this (which seems very likely) we could be looking at a very powerful hurricane of (former) Eta proportions.

The storm is moving slowly enough for explosive intensification before it reaches the Honduras / Nicaragua border or close by. I still have this niggling thought that strengthening could make Iota take a more northerly track into the Bay of Honduras and if it avoids land interaction with Honduras it could be an even more devastating storm for perhaps Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsular.

And then some ... wherever Iota goes it will cause considerable damage.

I don't know if anyone spotted the mistake in my last post. NHC designated Iota as tropical depression 31 and I posted that it could be the 31st named storm of the season when it is in fact the 30th named storm. We may well have 31 at the rate the 2020 hurricane season is going, possibly even after the official end date of 30th November.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 9:30 pm
by Paul Tallet

I am worried for Nicaragua and Honduras as these countries face severe hurricane conditions for the second time in 2 weeks, not to mention the rain which will be relentless and likely cause further flooding before the waters fully subside from Eta's visit.

To make matters worse, there is another disturbance brewing in the south west Caribbean and, if this develops, it is likely to affect countries to the south of Nicaragua and perhaps Costs Rica and Panama should keep an eyeball on this over the next several days.

Right now, there is a strong ridge of high pressure over the Gulf and southern US States and this is steering the weather patterns to the south or west which means, unlike Eta that curved to the north east, west, east, north, north east and Cuba and Florida twice, any storms that develop are more likely to take a westward track ... possibly even emerging into the Pacific Ocean after their passage over Central America.

This is bad news for Central America, especially if there is a 3rd disturbance in the making.

As for Iota, this could yet be the most powerful hurricane of the season. The NHC is suggesting Cat 4 and I agree with them that an eyewall replacement that occurs either before or during landfall could lessen the severity of Iota, however Iota is exploding and could reach category 5 if there are no impediments. This storm is a very dangerous proposition for Nicaragua and even more dangerous considering the damage already caused by Eta.

Weather conditions are going to deteriorate over Nicaragua and Honduras from tonight and the full weather violence will begin on Monday morning. Iota is moving more slowly than Eta so the rainfall and storm surge (mostly to the north of the storm) will also be more impactful and the core winds at landfall will be particularly severe.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 9:52 am
by Paul Tallet

This is very grim ... as I suggested in last night's post, Iota has exploded into a Cat 4 hurricane and is likely to become a devastating Cat 5 before landfall, unless the hurricane goes through an eyewall recycle.

The hurricane force wind-span is only about 20 miles wide which is not really good news but I would expect this to increase to maybe 40 miles by landfall. But if an eyewall recycle does occur before landfall tonight the hurricane will become slightly weaker and the hurricane wind-span would increase significantly more, bringing more widespread destruction.

Latest reports indicate that the pressure has dropped to around 930 mb. This is very low but not yet close to record breaking Wilma that dropped to around 890 mb.

Conditions on Nicaragua's coast are already deteriorating and the real weather violence will occur overnight. Iota will start weaking very quickly after landfall but will still bring significant rain fall to top up all the flooding caused by Eta.

Honduras may escape the brunt of Iota but should expect significant rain and storm surge along the coast which will be battered by at least tropical storm force winds.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:14 pm
by Paul Tallet
WOW !!

Major Hurricane Iota just gets stronger and stronger with a latest central minimum pressure of only 917 mb. This is significant. Wind speeds in excess of 160 mph have been recorded and there are yet a couple more hours and more strengthening before this beautiful, yet deadly, storm makes landfall in Nicaragua. This is historic.

Nicaragua is already sore from the visit of Eta and the media is issuing positive reports of readiness in Nicaragua and Honduras that will already be alert, know what to expect and how to be safe. I understand that shelters are being set up and plans are being rushed to completion in advance of this historical and catastrophic event.

Only 2 other Cat 5 hurricanes have been recorded late (November) in any season and Iota is an absolute beauty in terms of it's shape, distinct eye and phenomenal power ... a hurricane of this strength is rare and a Cat 5 landfall is even rarer.

While enthusiasts like myself just gape at the sat loops in total awe of this we must not forget how impactful these elite storms can be to humanity, wildlife and the landscape that they pass over.

I will turn my PC off. My pleasure has to end there. There is no sign of a weakening eyewall replacement cycle, nothing I or anyone else can do other than hope there are no serious casualties from this event.


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2020 9:54 pm
by Paul Tallet

The 2020 hurricane season ended (officially) on 30th November.

Given the activity of the season I have left it a week before sending this post. There could still be some activity but this is highly unlikely.

The 2020 Hurricane season has seen the most named storms since 2015. The Gulf coast and central America has seen the most landfalls and, ironically, all but one named storm developed in the Caribbean with threats in the tropical Atlantic not coming to fruition.

Unless something crazy happens I am looking forward to a break.

Tobago's doors are still (rightly) closed to international tourism. This is the first year in 12 that I will not be able to visit Tobago and I hope to make up for that the next time if I have the opportunity. Tobago's tourism businesses have taken a big hit from the pandemic.

As soon as the doors open I will resume the weekly Liquid Sunshine forecasts but please be mindful of the pangs of depression I am suffering as I spend the 1st Christmas in many years in the cold and dull UK ... missing that warmth, humidity, spice and life ... I don't feel that I can bear to look on this forum much although I appreciate that many others will feel the same.

Tobago has been my 11/1 ... 11 months of hard work and 1 month of regeneration and I will struggle in 2021 ... it means that much to me and I am not even starting to come to terms with this loss even though my (cancelled) flights are 1 week away.

The preparation, telling my carer that my man toys are more important than her clothes, arguments, plotting the trip, car parking, overnight check-ins, drinking rose wine with my breakfast before the flight, another G&T, all those routines which, when taken for granted, are probably the best bits as you embark on the perilous journey to your destination.

But I am not the only one ... many have suffered more from the pandemic than me and I am privileged to have visited Tobago more than once in a life time ... I suppose you could say it's like telling an alcoholic that the beer has run out ... there just isn't any !

It's still not fair !!


Lets hope for the best in 2021 ... it can't get worse, can it?


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2020 5:29 am
by SueShard
Hi Paul, thank you for your posts which I always look forward to reading.
I am a regular visitor to Tobago and so feel your pain! There is light at the end of the tunnel now and I’m sure we’ll be able to visit again in the not too distant future.
Take care and best wishes for Christmas, next year will be better!


Re: 2020 Hurricane Season

Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2020 4:58 pm
by Hugh S
Dear Paul,

I feel your pain - we experienced our first cancelled trip in May. I, too, have grown used to at least a month of regeneration and I can't see any progress yet so I'm coming to terms the best I can. Just before it gets really depressing I always see the light and start counting my many blessings. "I am privileged to have visited Tobago more than once in a life time" is one of the first. Having a bit of Tobago with me most of the time (my beautiful spouse) is number one. :wink:

Being able to stay connected to friends, family and like minded visitors through this forum is priceless and I thank you personally for being a large part of the accurate news and weather. Steve and all the behind-the-scenes contributors give us the feel and flavor of "our" island respite even from a "cold and dull" home base. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Take care, Hugh 8)