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November 6, 2008

Swirling storms over N. America, Caribbean


A look at the air space over North America and the Caribbean this morning reveals three swirling storms - one over the central U.S., a second just off the Delmarva coast, and a third building in the western Caribbean and threatening to become Hurricane Paloma sometime tomorrow.

From orbit, they look like the finger holes on a bowling ball.

Taking them one at a time, the big low spinning over the upper Plains states is bringing blizzard conditions to the Dakotas and thunderstorms to the Mississippi Valley. Up to a foot of snow is forecast today and tomorrow in the Dakotas. Travel on portions of Interstates 90 and 94 has been stopped or slowed. Wind gusts of nearly 80 mph have been recorded. Here's the wintry forecast for Rapid City, S.D.

NOAAThe second low is the one that's been drifting slowly up the Eastern Seaboard for a couple of days, pushing clouds, drizzle and showers inland over much of eastern and central Maryland. The forecast says this storm should begin to slip north and east late today and tonight, bringing us slowly clearing skies. Friday looks sunny and warm, with a high near 70 at BWI Marshall. But that will be a short break. Another cold front, with more clouds and scattered showers, is due on Saturday. The big Plains storm looks like it will veer north and leave us alone.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Paloma continues to strengthen in the western Caribbean. She's the third cyclonic storm on the map this morning, and the "thumb hole" on the bowling ball.

Here is the latest advisory on Paloma. Here is the storm's forecast track. And here is the view from space.

At last check, the center of Paloma was still about 75 miles northeast of the Nicaragua-Honduras NOAAborder. It was moving toward the north-northwest at about 7 mph, with top sustained winds of 45 mph. The forecast track shows it turning gradually toward the north, then the northeast.

A hurricane watch has been posted for the Cayman Islands. Jamaica and Cuba have been advised to watch the storm closely. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for parts of the Nicaraguan and Honduran coastline.

The chief threat appears to be heavy rain, with 4 to 8 inches likely, and isolated totals of a foot possible in the Central American nations.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: Paloma is nearing hurricane strength this afternoon, with top sustained winds near 65 mph. It is expected to become a hurricane late tonight or tomorrow. The hurricane watch for the Cayman Islands has been upgraded to a hurricane warning. The tropical storm watch for the Central American coast has been canceled.

Actually, there are four cyclonic storms twirling out there - the fourth one in the North Atlantic. Here's an amazing satellite loop, showing the scene in a wavelength that captures water vapor.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Storm reports


Very interesting. I just looked at the visible satellite image from

and there is a fourth one in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. It will be dark soon, and obscure that one from the visible view.


I fly corporate jets around the US and once a year to Europe. Your blog is always interesting. Oct.28 we flew from Baltimore to Boston, big storm moving thru, we were given altimeter settings as low as 29.21"Hg, other pilots were even commenting on it. Thanks for helping us amateur observers see the bigger picture.

FR: My limited knowledge of flying tells me that's the barometric reading pilots are given when they prepare to take off, to calibrate their altimeter. If that's so, then that reading is, indeed, pretty darn low for Baltimore - at sea level - and suggests a powerful storm nearby. Our low reading here at The Sun on that date was 29.67" around 1 p.m.

Frank, that low altimeter reading was given while we were flying towards Boston, over CT. The storm's center was just moving north from Boston at that time. It may also be of interest that winds at Boston had subsided quite a bit while winds back at Baltimore that evening were very strong--showing how the air at the outer parts of a storm moves inward while the air at the center is moving more up than sideways.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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