16 October 2008

Omar becomes a major hurricane, TD16 dissipates.

At 03Z today (11pm EDT Wednesday), Omar was upgraded to a major hurricane, the 4th of the season.  Aircraft reconnaissance measured 700 mb flight-level winds of 117 knots and SFMR winds of 108 knots while penetrating the southeast eyewall just prior to the 3Z advisory.  Omar continued to intensify early this morning, briefly reaching Category 4 status according to the 9Z discussion before weakening a bit later this morning.  As of the 12Z update, Omar is listed as an 100-knot (Category 3) tropical cyclone with an estimated minimum sea level pressure of 967 mb.  You can follow Omar's trek through the northern Leeward Islands from Puerto Rico's long-range radar: http://einstein.atmos.colostate.edu/~mcnoldy/tropics/omar08/Omar_15-16Oct08_long.gif.  It is too early to know the extent of damage in the Caribbean, but the system likely caused substantial damage to several island groups including the Netherlands Antilles and French West Indies.
Omar is currently moving rapidly northeastward, being steered by a pronounced digging mid-latitude trough.  The latest motion estimate has it heading NE at 22 kts, up substantially from the estimated 6 kts of motion at the 9Z advisory yesterday.  Omar is predicted to gradually weaken as it moves northeastward over cooler waters, and it likely will begin to undergo extra-tropical transition by the end of the weekend.  Omar is the first major hurricane to form in the month of October since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
TD16, although in a favorable synoptic environment, was never able to organize and develop.  This was largely due to its proximity to land.  The system has tracked west-southwestward since yesterday and made landfall in northern Honduras yesterday afternoon.  Flooding is the primary concern with the remnants of TD16.  Some of the global models hint at re-development of TD16 as a tropical storm in the eastern Pacific as it continues to drift westward.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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