Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tropical Storm Richard: October 21, Update A

And we're not done yet! Anyone who bet that Paula was going to be the last named storm can just put that money in my "Tropical Storm Holiday Fund"... er... I mean my "Tropical Storm Fund" (huh... I don't know how the word 'holiday' crept in there).  
A Tropical Depression that's been loitering (with intent! ;-)) in the Caribbean for a number of days has been officially upgraded to the next (17th) named storm of the season - TS Richard. For those who know their alphabet, can count, or have been paying attention... there was no Q named storm. I'm sure there must be a plethora of cool Q-beginning names from around the Caribbean and even some Native American names. Maybe it's time to walk on the wild side and include some of those, hmm? :-)
He's officially barely a TS with winds of only 40mph (TS range: 39-73mph). He is also very disorganized so it is difficult to see a center of circulation. I'll go with the official one for now at 16.2N, 80.4W. Central pressure is 1006mb and he's moving SE at 6mph. To me he looks a bit stronger than the official numbers indicate, but I'm sure they will upgrade him to something like 60mph winds later.
This system was essentially stationary for a while yesterday (crawling around at 2mph) over that delicious warm Caribbean water, which has allowed him to grow a bit. Convection is pretty good but there is a lot of wind shear so the convection is mostly to the east of the official center. Jamaica has been getting more than a few raindrops over the past few days. The vorticity (circulation) is also good in the lowest half of the troposphere (scientific term for lowest level of our atmosphere which extends up to about 8-16km depending on where on the planet we are looking, in case you started reading this mid-way through the season). If it wasn't for the wind shear, he would definitely be a stronger TS. He's right on the edge of an area of weaker wind shear so, depending on the path he takes, he may intensify quite a bit within the next 24 hours.
Hmm... although the forecast track takes him westward over the next day, I'm not so sure. Looking at the large-scale pressure fields, it looks like there's a good chance he'll move eastward/northeastward. But I don't have a lot of information on these fields, so there may be something small that I can't see. Maybe my glasses will be cleaner tomorrow! ;-) The longer term forecast track takes him west and then curving northwest to make landfall as a hurricane on the Yucatan Peninsula early Monday morning. We'll see how this track pans out. If it's the correct track, I can see him becoming a hurricane because, as we've seen before during this season, that part of the Caribbean has the deepest warmest water.
Dear Mother Nature, thanks for your timing. I've been rather busy these past few days so it's been really helpful to only have to pop in and see what the blob was doing and then get back to other things. :-)
Until tomorrow (unless I get tired of doing moving-related things later and he's done something interesting :-)),
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These remarks are just what I think/see regarding tropical storms - not the opinion of any organization I represent. If you are making an evacuation decision, please heed your local emergency management and the National Hurricane Center's official forecast and the National Weather Service announcements. This is not an official forecast. If I was there and was going to "run away, run away" (Monty Python), I'll let you know.

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