Tropical Storm Nicole (2010)

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Tropical Storm Nicole
Tropical storm (SSHWS/NWS)
CAmerica 2 04.2010271.terra.250m.jpg
Satellite image of Nicole as a tropical storm
Formed September 28, 2010
Dissipated September 30, 2010
(Extratropical on September 29)[1]
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 45 mph (75 km/h)
Lowest pressure 995 mbar (hPa); 29.38 inHg
Fatalities 13 confirmed
Damage $238.6 million (2010 USD)
Areas affected Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Isle of Youth, Cuba, Florida, Bahamas, East Coast of the United States
Part of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Storm Nicole was a short-lived and asymmetric tropical cyclone that caused extensive damage in Jamaica during the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the sixteenth tropical cyclone and the fourteenth named storm of the season, as well as the last of a record eight tropical storms to form in September 2010.[2] Originating from a monsoonal low, Nicole attained tropical depression status over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on September 28. It maintained an unusual structure as it tracked northeastward, with a poorly defined circulation and few thunderstorms near its center. Nicole crossed Cuba as a weak tropical storm, and subsequently dissipated near the Straits of Florida. There, it eventually became absorbed by a separate extratropical system.

Due to Nicole's atypical structure, the strongest thundershowers were well removed from the center; most of the weather activity occurred over the western Caribbean. In Jamaica, the storm produced widespread power outages, which affected more than 300,000 residences. Extreme precipitation of up to 37.42 inches (940 mm) caused disastrous flooding, damaging 474 houses and destroying 54. In all, Nicole wrought an estimated $238.6 million (2010 USD) in damage, and there were thirteen confirmed fatalities on the island. Elsewhere, minor flooding occurred in Florida, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands. The remnants of the storm contributed to a large disturbance along the East Coast of the United States, causing additional damage and deaths.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

In late September 2010, a wide band of disturbed weather and low pressure associated with remnant tropical moisture from Tropical Storm Matthew tracked over the northwestern Caribbean.[3] With a broad upper ridge anchored along the Yucatán coast, diffluence aloft in the vicinity of the disturbance provided focus for the development of scattered convection.[4] The National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted an environment supportive of tropical development, and by September 27 a broad surface low developed amid the convection.[5] Over the following day, regional surface pressures began to drop as sustained winds around the low increased to near tropical storm force.[6] Throughout the development process, moderate westerly shear over the region caused the disturbance to exhibit a rather asymmetric structure;[1] it developed an elongated low-pressure center by September 28, well to the northwest of its strongest windfield.[7] Despite the asymmetry, the NHC initiated advisories on Tropical Depression Sixteen around 1500 UTC that day, after surface and satellite observations revealed a sufficiently defined circulation center and organized deep convection. However, post-season reassessments indicated a tropical storm had in fact formed three hours earlier. For most of its duration, the system continued a generally northeastward motion west of an anticyclone and ahead of a large mid- to upper-level trough.[1][8]

The center of Nicole located over Cuba, with the greatest rain volumes over Jamaica as seen on water vapor imagery

Only hours after the storm's formation, a Hurricane Hunters flight into the system observed a composition similar to the one initially discerned, with the deepest convection dislocated from the ill-defined center. In comparison, the core consisted of light winds and sporadic convection—a structure rather characteristic of a monsoon depression.[9][10] Radar data from the next day, however, showed the convection deepening in the northern semicircle of the storm;[11] bands of thunderstorms soon developed over the southeastern periphery and closer to the center, and surface, buoy, and ship observations indicated sustained tropical-storm-force winds. Based on these observations and the improved structure, the depression was operationally upgraded to Tropical Storm Nicole at 1500 UTC September 29 over central Cuba,[12] about 27 hours later than the estimated time of the tropical storm's formation revealed by reanalysis.[1]

Although the system had been upgraded to tropical storm status, the winds around its core remained relatively weak.[12] By 2100 UTC, Nicole's circulation became increasingly elongated and untrackable, prompting the NHC to discontinue advisories when the storm was located about 165 mi (270 km) west of Nassau, Bahamas.[13] The remnant low began interacting with the neighboring trough as noted on water vapor imagery, resulting in significant amounts of precipitation along the southeastern United States coastlines.[14] Accelerating toward the northeast, it acquired frontal characteristics and became extratropical by 0600 UTC September 30, twelve hours before merging with a developing system over eastern North Carolina.[1]

Preparations[edit]

Caribbean[edit]

In anticipation of a tropical storm, warnings were issued on September 28 for the Cayman Islands, the northwestern and central Bahamas, and the Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, and Ciego de Ávila.[15] However, the warnings were all discontinued the following day after the storm was reported to have dissipated.[16]

In Jamaica, schools and some businesses closed on September 29 and 30 as emergency officials braced for heavy rains. A flash flood warning remained in effect for flood-prone areas for four days; it was ultimately discontinued on October 3.[17] After forecasters warned of severe weather, public schools closed in the Cayman Islands, and government workers from low-lying areas were promptly dismissed. Thunderstorms in Grand Cayman forced Cayman Airways to cancel all express flights to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman on October 29; weather-resistant jet service was provided to stranded passengers.[18] Additionally, a marine warning was required for all three islands due to rough sea conditions.[19][20]

The remnants of Nicole approaching South Carolina on September 30

United States[edit]

Tropical storm warnings were issued for the Florida Keys, the Florida Bay, and southward from the Jupiter Inlet to Cape Sable. A tropical storm watch was in place north from the Jupiter Inlet to the Sebastian Inlet and north of East Cape Sable to Chokoloskee.[15] The warnings and watch were discontinued the next day, after direct impact was no longer expected.[21] At the time, a flood watch was to remain in effect for Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Collier, and Monroe counties for 23 hours.[22] An airport weather warning was issued for Orlando International Airport and Executive Airport on September 29; arriving flights were put on hold and pilots were told to divert to another airport if possible. Eight Southwest Airlines flights were diverted to airports in Tampa and Jacksonville; one JetBlue flight was also diverted to West Palm Beach. Though airport officials later reported normalized conditions, an additional 26 flights were subsequently canceled at Miami International Airport.[23][24]

In Brunswick and New Hanover counties, North Carolina, officials readied shelters on September 29 to accommodate stranded residents unable to access their homes. Multiple schools in New Hanover and Pender County remained closed the next morning due to worsening storm conditions from the post-tropical disturbance succeeding Nicole.[25] At the threat of prolonged rainfall, a flood watch was issued for Kent County, Maryland from September 30 to October 1. Also in the area, the National Weather Service declared both a coastal flood advisory and wind advisory on September 30.[26]

Impact[edit]

Jamaica[edit]

Nicole over the northwestern Caribbean on September 29

For several days, Nicole and its precursor disturbance brought great amounts of rainfall to much of Jamaica; a maximum total of 37.42 inches (940 mm) was recorded in Belleisle, Westmoreland Parish from September 26 to 30.[1] Subsequent flooding, landslides, and strong winds affected dozens of communities,[27] and more than 300,000 residences lost power at the height of the storm.[28] Extensive damage was reported to properties and infrastructure, and the agricultural section suffered additional losses. Surface runoffs and spills from industrial facilities and sewage treatment plants caused localized land pollution, with scattered occurrences of coastal erosion and waste accumulation. Additionally, several areas sustained light damage to vegetation as evidenced by uprooted trees. The disaster affected an estimated 507,831 people;[29] it resulted in a total of 13 deaths, injured more than 27 people, and displaced 114 others.[30]

In Saint Andrew Parish, a house next to a street gutter succumbed to the effects of the storm; five bodies were recovered near the site, while the final missing inhabitant was later presumed dead.[31][32] Elsewhere in Saint Andrew, three construction workers were killed by a collapsed wall.[33] A girl was crushed to death under the weight of a collapsed board house in Saint Catherine Parish.[34] Three people drowned when swept away by rushing waters in different parts of the island.[35][36] In the wake of the storm, a body was recovered from rubble along a road in Saint Catherine.[37] Floods also trapped several residents in their homes,[38] and hundreds of people were accommodated in public shelters. Nationwide, obstructed roads and severed bridges lead to the isolation of communities in seven different parishes.[39]

By October 20, 2010, damage assessments had been performed for a total of 2,169 houses; 474 sustained severe damage, while 54 were beyond repair. Monetary losses totaled J$274.3 million (US$3.2 million), of which an estimated J$75.6 million (US$890,000) was required to replace destroyed housing units.[29] Some buildings lost their roofs when a waterspout hit Westmoreland Parish's capital of Savanna-la-Mar during the passage of the storm, hospitalizing four residents.[40] Multiple bridges were affected, with several collapsing under the force of swollen rivers and creeks. In Kingston, underpasses suffered severe flooding when storm water drains were overwhelmed. Consequent surface inundations caused extensive damage to several roads.[41] In all, Nicole wrought approximately J$20 billion (US$235.4 million) in damage to road infrastructure across Jamaica.[42]

Rainfall from Tropical Storm Nicole in Florida

Elsewhere[edit]

Intermittent torrents affected roads across central and eastern Cuba without causing significant damage.[41] Local rainfall totals peaked at 9.22 inches (235 mm) in Cabo Cruz, with gale-force winds reported in the area.[1] Similarly, widespread flooding resulted in minor inconveniences throughout the Cayman Islands, but damage to the area was limited.[43] Despite initial threats of heavy thunderstorms and strong gusts, Florida was spared from direct impact. The storm only skirted the state with showers;[44] a maximum rainfall total of 12.71 inches (323 mm) was recorded at North Key Largo, though other locations received considerably less.[45] Street flooding occurred in Miami Beach and the northern Florida Keys, but only one residence sustained damage.[1]

Post-tropical system[edit]

The extratropical remnants of Nicole retained plenty of moisture, and ultimately combined with a large low-pressure system tracking up the US East Coast. The resultant disturbance produced torrential showers and thunderstorms over entire coastal regions and inland as far north as Canada.[46] In North Carolina, Wilmington received 22.54 inches (573 mm) of rain, the most it had received for a five-day period since 1871. Kinston recorded a total of 15 in (380 mm) during the time, while other eastern North Carolina communities experienced some degree of flooding.[47] Up to 150 roads were preemptively closed due to the flooding, though all of seven deaths in the state occurred in traffic accidents.[48] In New York, similar heavy rainfall totaling up to 8 inches (200 mm) and associated flash floods resulted in one fatality, as well as an estimated US$10,000 worth of damage.[49] Major flooding also occurred in Vermont, and up to 10.5 in (265 mm) of precipitation fell over a 24-hour span in Moscow, Pennsylvania.[48] Further north, the remnant low enhanced a pressure gradient over the southern New England region, generating strong winds. Power outages were reported in Litchfield due to the winds, and rainfall caused minor flooding in the area.[50] Despite the deaths and damage, the rains alleviated prolonged drought conditions in those regions.[51]

Aftermath[edit]

On October 5, a national disaster was declared for Jamaica due to the effects of Nicole. In response, the USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance provided US$50,000 for the local purchase and delivery of emergency relief supplies and fuel for emergency vehicles.[52] About J$4 million (US$46,800) was donated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to the Greenhouse Growers Association for the repair of greenhouses. In conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated total of J$12 million (US$140,400) was made available to initiate the planting of about 50,000 crop seedlings. In addition to financial assistance, the Veterinary Division dispatched animal technicians to provide prophylactic medication and vitamins to avert foot rot disease to small ruminants, including goats and sheep. The cost of the medication was estimated at J$2 million (US$23,400). The Banana Board's Catastrophe Fund, which at the time comprised J$50 million (US$585,000), was to deliver both monetary support and human resources to local banana and plantain farmers.[53]

Eleven days after the storm, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent allocated CHF150,644 (US$156,221) from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Jamaica Red Cross in delivering assistance to about 500 families—or 2,500 beneficiaries—in need of life supplies.[54] In late December 2010, the Jamaica–Canadian Association in Toronto, Canada raised a total of CDN$10,153.87 (US$10,221.33) in relief funds to assist flood victims.[55] The Hanover Parish Council requested J$30 million (US$351,000) to assist the Saint James Parish Council and other municipal authorities across the country in post-storm clean-up and beautification work.[56] A grant of J$279 million (US$3.26 million) was approved for the rehabilitation of a major roadway section in Westmoreland Parish.[57]

In spite of the timely relief efforts, Nicole's effects were still felt for months in its wake. The gross domestic product for Jamaica, which had been suffering from a substantially slow economic growth rate, further declined due to the extensive storm damage.[58] The agriculture sector sustained slight losses from reduced egg production due to the traumatizing effects on farm chickens,[59] and the storm's impact contributed to below-standard levels of holiday season consumption.[60]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]