Tracking Tomas

A late-season tropical system continues to churn in the Atlantic basin and its name is Tomas.

Tropical activity in the month of November is a bit unusual, but certainly not unheard of. Conditions generally become much more unfavorable by the end of the month and November 30 does indeed mark the official end of hurricane season in the Atlantic basin. Right now, we're tracking Tropical Storm Tomas, which is on track to have an impact on Haiti later this week.

As of Monday evening, Tomas is a minimal tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of only 45 miles per hour. Over the weekend, Tomas was much stronger with winds reaching up into hurricane status. At its current position in the Caribbean Sea, the upper level winds have become very unfavorable with lots of strong winds aloft. These strong upper level winds blow the tops off of the thunderstorms and tend to weaken the overall structure of the storm. With time, the upper level winds are forecast to weaken and as Tomas moves over warm water a slow strengthening trend is likely. By the time it reaches Haiti later this week, it could be a minimal hurricane again, with winds near 80 miles per hour.

The main threat to Haiti would not be the wind -- the flood threat poses a much greater risk. Haiti is very susceptible to mudslides, landslides, and flash flooding due to the lack of trees and vegetation with strong root systems. This could be very problematic for Haiti, a country that is still struggling in the wake of a powerful earthquake less than a year ago. Once Tomas passes by Haiti, the upper level winds should help to steer the storm out into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean away from the United States. Aside from Tomas, the tropics are relatively quiet, with no new tropical development on the horizon.


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