Tropical Storm Carlotta (2018)

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Tropical Storm Carlotta
Tropical storm (SSHWS/NWS)
Carlotta 2018-06-16 2001Z.jpg
Tropical Storm Carlotta strengthening off the southwestern coast of Mexico on June 16
FormedJune 14, 2018
DissipatedJune 19, 2018
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:65 mph (100 km/h)
Lowest pressure997 mbar (hPa); 29.44 inHg
Fatalities2 direct, 1 indirect
Areas affectedCentral and Southern Mexico
Part of the 2018 Pacific hurricane season

Tropical Storm Carlotta was a tropical cyclone that caused flooding within several states in southwestern and central Mexico. Carlotta formed as the result of a breakdown in the Intertropical Convergence Zone. On June 12, a broad area of low pressure formed several hundred miles south of Mexico and strengthened into a tropical storm by June 15. On the next day, the storm unexpectedly stalled within a favorable environment, which led to more intensification than originally anticipated. Early on June 17, Carlotta reached peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 997 mbar (29.44 inHg) while located only 30 mi (50 km) south-southeast of Acapulco. The system then began to interact with land and experience wind shear, which resulted in the system weakening to tropical depression status later in the day. The storm weakened to a remnant low early on June 19 and dissipated several hours later.

Tropical cyclone Is a rotating storm system

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Intertropical Convergence Zone Meteorological phenomenon

The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known by sailors as the doldrums or the calms because of its monotonous, windless weather, is the area where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge. It encircles Earth near the thermal equator, though its specific position varies seasonally. When it lies near the geographic Equator, it is called the near-equatorial trough. Where the ITCZ is drawn into and merges with a monsoonal circulation, it is sometimes referred to as a monsoon trough, a usage more common in Australia and parts of Asia.

Contents

Carlotta prompted the issuance of multiple watches and warnings for the southern coast of Mexico. The storm caused three deaths: two in Aguascalientes and one in Oaxaca, and flooding and landslides throughout the states of Aguascalientes, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, as well as the Yucatán Peninsula. Damage from the system was reported to be minor.

Aguascalientes State of Mexico

Aguascalientes, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Aguascalientes, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 11 municipalities and its capital city is Aguascalientes.

Oaxaca State of Mexico

Oaxaca, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Oaxaca, is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City, make up the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided into 570 municipalities, of which 418 are governed by the system of usos y costumbres with recognized local forms of self-governance. Its capital city is Oaxaca de Juárez.

Guerrero State of Mexico

Guerrero, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Guerrero, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 81 municipalities and its capital city is Chilpancingo and its largest city is Acapulco.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Carlotta 2018 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

Tropical Storm Carlotta formed as the result of a breakdown in the Intertropical Convergence Zone to the south of Mexico. A tropical wave that crossed over Central America around June 11 may have contributed to the storm's formation as well. [1] On June 12, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that a broad area of low pressure had formed several hundred miles south of southeastern Mexico. [2] The NHC continued to monitor the disturbance over the next couple days as it drifted northward. [3] Initially, strong upper-level winds prevented development, [2] but the system unexpectedly organized on June 14. [4] Following structural improvements, the NHC upgraded the system into a tropical depression at 18:00 UTC while about 140 mi (220 km) south of Acapulco. [1] Around that time, the NHC forecast that a mid-level ridge over Mexico would weaken on the next day, leaving the depression in an area of light steering currents. [5] Despite being located in an environment with low to moderate wind shear and sea surface temperatures exceeding 86 °F (30 °C), [6] the depression experienced minimal change in intensity over the next 18 hours. After the system's center reformed farther north, the NHC reduced its intensity forecast as the storm would have less time over water. [7] However, Carlotta never made landfall during its existence as a tropical cyclone. Around 18:00 UTC on June 15, the system strengthened into a tropical storm, after which it was assigned the name Carlotta. The system's intensity then leveled off for about twelve hours. [1]

Tropical wave type of atmospheric trough

Tropical waves, easterly waves, or tropical easterly waves, also known as African easterly waves in the Atlantic region, are a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics, causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms. West-moving waves can also form from the tail end of frontal zones in the subtropics and tropics, and may be referred to as easterly waves, but these waves are not properly called tropical waves; they are a form of inverted trough sharing many characteristics with fully tropical waves. All tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and northeastern Pacific basins. A tropical wave study is aided by Hovmöller diagrams, a graph of meteorological data.

Central America central geographic region of the Americas

Central America is located on the southern tip of North America, or is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas, bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The combined population of Central America has been estimated to be 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.

Miami City in Florida, United States

Miami, officially the City of Miami, is the cultural, economic and financial center of South Florida. Miami is the seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida. The city covers an area of about 56.6 square miles (147 km2), between the Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay on the east; with a 2017 estimated population of 463,347, Miami is the sixth most densely populated major city in the United States. The Miami metropolitan area is home to 6.1 million people and the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the nation. Miami's metro area is the second-most populous metropolis in the southeastern United States and fourth-largest urban area in the U.S. Miami has the third tallest skyline in the United States with over 300 high-rises, 80 of which stand taller than 400 feet.

Early on June 16, Carlotta's forward motion began to fluctuate, changing from northeast to southeast in six hours. [8] The storm began to intensify again around 06:00 UTC as it stalled off the coast of Mexico. [1] [9] Soon after, the cyclone began moving in a northerly direction. [10] Over the next twelve hours, Carlotta experienced little change in organization before peaking at 00:00 UTC on June 17 with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 997 mbar (29.44 inHg) while located only 30 mi (50 km) south-southeast of Acapulco. [1] Around that time, the NHC noted that the system's structure had improved significantly, with a contracting eye and more symmetric eyewall. [11] Carlotta then began to weaken because of increasing interactions with land and northerly wind shear. Meanwhile, the system had begun tracking towards the northwest. [12] Around 18:00 UTC on the same day, Carlotta weakened into a tropical depression after lacking organized deep convection for several hours. [1] [13] Over the next day, the depression continued to weaken before degenerating into a remnant low on June 19 at 00:00 UTC. [1] Shortly after, Carotta's upper-level circulation decoupled entirely and drifted towards the southwest, while the low- and mid-level remnants remained. [14] The system's remnants dissipated around 06:00 UTC while located offshore of the coast between Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo, Mexico. [1]

The maximum sustained wind associated with a tropical cyclone is a common indicator of the intensity of the storm. Within a mature tropical cyclone, it is found within the eyewall at a distance defined as the radius of maximum wind, or RMW. Unlike gusts, the value of these winds are determined via their sampling and averaging the sampled results over a period of time. Wind measuring has been standardized globally to reflect the winds at 10 metres (33 ft) above the Earth's surface, and the maximum sustained wind represents the highest average wind over either a one-minute (US) or ten-minute time span, anywhere within the tropical cyclone. Surface winds are highly variable due to friction between the atmosphere and the Earth's surface, as well as near hills and mountains over land.

Atmospheric pressure, sometimes also called barometric pressure, is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. The standard atmosphere is a unit of pressure defined as 1013.25 mbar (101325 Pa), equivalent to 760 mm Hg (torr), 29.9212 inches Hg, or 14.696 psi. The atm unit is roughly equivalent to the mean sea-level atmospheric pressure on Earth, that is, the Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level is approximately 1 atm.

Eye (cyclone) region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. The cyclone's lowest barometric pressure occurs in the eye and can be as much as 15 percent lower than the pressure outside the storm.

Preparations and impact

Tropical Depression Carlotta weakening off the southern coast of Mexico on June 18. Carlotta 2018-06-18 1725Z.jpg
Tropical Depression Carlotta weakening off the southern coast of Mexico on June 18.

On June 14 at 21:00 UTC, the government of Mexico issued a tropical storm watch for Tecpan de Galeana to Punta Maldonado  [ es ]. [15] Six hours later, the watch was upgraded to a tropical storm warning. [16] On June 15 at 15:00 UTC, the tropical storm warning was extended to Lagunas de Chacahua. [17] Six hours later, the warning was discontinued for Tecpan de Galeana to west of Acapulco. [18] On June 17 at 03:00 UTC, the warning was extended westward from Acapulco to Tecpan de Galeana and cancelled to the east of Punta Maldonado. [19] At 09:00 UTC, the warning was discontinued east of Tecpan de Galeana and extended westward to Lazaro Cardenas. [20] The tropical storm warning was cancelled at 18:00 UTC, after the storm weakened into a tropical depression. [21]

Tropical Storm Carlotta caused flooding in southern Mexico, with the states of Aguascalientes, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, and the Yucatán Peninsula being affected. The storm caused two deaths in Aguascalientes and one in Oaxaca. In the Yucatán Peninsula, Carlotta, a tropical wave, and another low-pressure system dropped between 70–400 mm (3–20 in) of rain, causing severe flooding. [22] [23] In Tizimín, the Popolnáh police station was inundated and the DN-III-E Plan, a plan for the coordination of search and rescue operations and disaster aid, was activated to help with recovery efforts. [23]

Michoacán State of Mexico

Michoacán, formally Michoacán de Ocampo, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Michoacán de Ocampo, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The State is divided into 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia. The city was named after José María Morelos, one of the main heroes of the Mexican War of Independence.

Puebla State of Mexico

Puebla, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital is the city of Puebla.

Yucatán Peninsula peninsula in North America

The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel. The peninsula lies east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a northwestern geographic partition separating the region of Central America from the rest of North America. It is approximately 181,000 km2 (70,000 sq mi) in area, and is almost entirely composed of limestone.

In Oaxaca, severe flooding killed one individual. Fishermen recovered the body of a 29-year-old man about 10 mi (20 km) off the coast after he was dragged away by flood waters and drowned. [24] The proximity of the storm prompted the closure of the ports of Huatulco, Puerto Ángel, and Puerto Escondido and the suspension of fishing operations; [25] multiple landslides occurred in the state. [26] [27] In Guerrero, only minor damage occurred. In the Costa Chica region, the storm damaged several palapas on a beach and the fishing equipment of at least 80 families, preventing them from working. [28] In the municipalities of Tecpan de Galeana, Zihuatanejo, and Petatlán, 42 homes were inundated by flood waters. A total of 138 trees were downed in Acapulco and several other municipalities. In Acapulco, a hospital sustained damage to its windows and four injuries were reported. Additionally, 32 neighborhoods lost power, nine houses lost their roofs, and 11 roads collapsed. [29] [30] In Tehuacán, Puebla, homes and businesses flooded, multiple cars were stranded, and several trees fell. Nearby, a state highway and a bridge collapsed, cutting off several towns in the area. [31]

In Michoacán, multiple cities along the coast experienced severe flooding. In Melchor Ocampo, a peak rainfall total of 285.0 mm (11.2 in) occurred. Approximately 210.6 mm (8.291 in) of rain fell in La Villita while 194.9 mm (7.673 in) was recorded in Presa La Villita. [22] Rainfall caused the Acalpican River to overflow its banks. [32] In the Tiquicheo Municipality, 10 houses flooded after a river near the city overflowed its banks. [33] Multiple homes were inundated in the Zamora Municipality. In Pátzcuaro, multiple landslides occurred, damaging roads in the region. In Nuevo Urecho, the overflow of the Los Hervores River damaged water pumps, resulting in a water shortage throughout the municipality. [34] Throughout the storm, 35 temporary shelters were in operation in Michoacán. [35] [32]

In Aguascalientes, Carlotta caused infrastructural damage and two indirect deaths in Aguascalientes City. Rainfall from the system flooded streets, sweeping away dozens of cars and prompting the rescue of several people. Two women became entrapped in their vehicle because of rising flood waters and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. [36] [37] After 57 mm (2.2 in) of rain fell, [38] the city's drainage system collapsed; [37] 12 trees fell and 12 houses were flooded. [36] A waterspout touched down in the state. Mexican authorities alerted the public that the El Cedazo dam had the potential to overflow because of the heavy rainfall, [37] [38] although no overflow actually occurred. [39]

See also

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References

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