Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tomas - Stay Away!

Haiti: Tomas' Next Target?

The calendar may have flipped to November, but we still have the tropics to worry about this week.

For now, Tomas is a tropical storm in the central Caribbean after affecting the Windward Islands as a hurricane this past weekend.

You may rightly ask what changed over the past several days. Late last week, official forecasts anticipated Tomas to be a hurricane as it traversed the Caribbean Sea.

The answer....wind shear. For a tropical cyclone to intensify, you need thunderstorms to be colocated with an area of low pressure near the surface.

However, as you can see in the satellite image below, the low-level circulation was displaced Monday about 100 miles west of the most vigorous thunderstorms. Thus, the weakening we witnessed Sunday into Monday.

So, we've dodged a bullet, right? Not exactly. Let's first lay out the vulnerability of one of the world's poorest nations, still recovering from a disaster earlier this year.

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