Tropical Atlantic quiet; Southern California fire event possible Friday
The remains of Hurricane Paloma continue to spin over the Caribbean waters just south of Cuba, but wind shear is a high 30 knots, and there is virtually no chance that Paloma will regenerate. Elsewhere in the tropical Atlantic, there are no threat areas to discuss, and none of our reliable models are predicting tropical storm formation over the next seven days. There is an extratropical low pressure system that is expected to separate from the jet stream in the middle Atlantic just south of the Azores Islands 5-7 days from now, and it is possible this low could gradually acquire some tropical characteristics and become a subtropical storm late next week as it wanders over the open Atlantic Ocean. Such a storm would only be a threat to shipping interests, and I am not expecting any more tropical storms this season that will threaten land areas. With wind shear expected to rise over the Caribbean later this week, and continue to remain at high levels until late November, it is likely that the Atlantic hurricane season of 2008 is finally over in the Caribbean.
Paloma clean-up continues
The recovery effort from Hurricane Paloma continues in the Cayman Islands and Cuba. Paloma roared through the Cayman Islands Friday night and Saturday morning as a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds, brushing Grand Cayman Island, but pounding the "Sister Islands" to the northeast--Little Cayman and Cayman Brac--with its northern eyewall. The hardest-hit Cayman island was Cayman Brac, population 2,000. About half of the island's population is homeless, and 95% of the structures on the island are damaged and 30% missing their roofs. The Cayman Compass reports that electricity is still out to most of the island, though Internet and cell phone service have been restored. Damage was also very heavy on Little Cayman Island, which suffered damage to approximately 90% of its buildings.
In Cuba, leader Raul Castro said yesterday that Cuba had suffered at least $10 billion in damage from Hurricanes Ike, Gustav, and Paloma. Paloma was the least damaging of the three, accounting for $1.4 billion of the damage total. This year was the first time on record that three major hurricanes have hit Cuba.
Figure 1. Hurricane Paloma near maximum intensity at 1:35 pm EST November 8, 2008. At the time, Paloma was a Category 4 hurricane with 140-145 mph winds. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.
Southern California fire event possible this week
A moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event is shaping up for Southern California Friday and Saturday, as high pressure builds in to the north and east. The clockwise flow of air around this high pressure system will drive strong east-to-west offshore winds from the mountains to the ocean over the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas. A Fire Weather Watch has already been posted for the mountain regions near Los Angeles, where wind gusts up to 60 mph are expected Friday and Saturday. Very windy, dry, and hot conditions are expected Friday and Saturday over Southern California, and the San Diego area will see near record temperatures 10 to 20 degrees above average.