Hurricanes Rafael and Paul move on


Hurricane Rafael as it passed the island. Bermuda Weather Service radar image October 16th 2012 8:53pm local time.

Hurricane Rafael last night passed about 115miles away from Bermuda with top sustained winds near 85mph and pressure at 970mb. Officially observed winds reached 36mph with gusts to 52mph at the airport – they never reached tropical storm force, at least in terms of 10-minute sustained winds. However, higher gusts were reported at elevation between 60 and 65mph. Rainfall totals were between 1 and 3 inches, with the airport observing 2.11″ of rain, and my PWS measuring 1.23″. Meanwhile, barometric pressure fell to about 996mb at the airport. A buoy in Bermuda measured a storm surge of about 0.67 feet as Rafael passed, however this was on top of an unusually high astronomical tide and so the storm tide reached a peak of 4.44 feet. There were reports of about 1,000 total power outages as a result of the storm, but no serious damage was reported. Rafael has passed the island and is heading out to sea where it will quickly transition into a post-tropical storm. A Small Craft Advisory is in effect for the elevated surf and strong winds in the wake of Rafael, but the tropical storm advisories have been discontinued.

Hurricane Paul quickly weakened only miles off the coast, but not before bringing strong winds and heavy rains. Sustained winds of 52mph with a gust to 71mph along with a minimum pressure of 992mb was reported in Puerto Cortes before Paul weakened. Instead of making a landfall, the storm skirted the coast making an abrupt turn to the left – likely a result of the sudden weakening. Paul is expected to weaken further to a remnant low today as cool waters, interaction with land, and increasingly unfavorable atmospheric conditions work against it. Tropical Storm Warnings have been discontinued. Rains and moisture from Paul continue over Mexico and the threat for flooding remains. Hopefully little damage was done because of the small size of Paul’s wind field and the relatively sparsely populated area that it affected.

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