BahaHurican's WunderBlog of 2015 Storms that Impact the Bahamas

TS Gamma Brings Memories of Hurricane Michelle 2001

By: BahaHurican, 1:15 AM GMT on November 20, 2005

Looking at today's TS Gamma track this afternoon gave me the chilli-willi deja vu feeling. (Check out the projections on
JeffMaster's Blog .


So much - the starting location, the drift across the Caribbean, the trip across Central America, the lingering just off the coast, not to mention the forecast track itself, across the central Bahamas and Cuba - all reminded me of that early November storm. Even the eventual prognosis - acceleration away from the tropics as an extra-tropical storm - resembles Michelle's eventual fate.

Fortunately for Cuba and the Bahamas, there are also some important differences. So far Gamma is not showing any sign of the rapid intensification seen back in 2001. In about 30 hours Michelle dropped 50 millibars of pressure, moving from category 1 to category 4 as she moved across the western Caribbean sea. For Gamma, such deepening is much less likely because of the conditions which are currently creating such strong wind sheer.

My strongest memories of Michelle are of the "in like a lion, out like a lamb" variety. At its worst, Michelle was a terrifying beauty; Jack Bevan of the NHC describes the storm as "a classically-organized hurricane with a well-defined eye", as can be seen in the following picture: TRC2001Michelle307_G8L .
After crossing the mountainous terrain of central Cuba and encountering southwesterly shear, Michelle practically fell apart:
TRC2001michelle309_G8L .

By the time Michelle's eye crossed south and over New Providence, the precipitation and wind were hugely separated, and the storm was practically extra-tropical in nature.

For me, watching this progression on the NHC's weather loops was like watching claws shred cloth or something fluffy like cotton. And having the storm passing overhead while this was happening added a surreal aspect to the entire event. Unfortunately my electricity was knocked out shortly after the eye passed, so I was unable to continue to observe the continued deterioration of the storm via satellite.

Similar to Wilma, at this point the eye of Michelle was quite large - almost 60 miles across, if memory serves correctly. While the rain was torrential prior to the passing of the eye, afterwards it hardly rained at all. The wind, however, was prodigious. I captured shots of a neighbour's garbage bin being washed down our street from north to south on the gushing torrents of water rained down prior to the eye's passage. Afterwards I took photos of the same bin sailing again northward in the opposing wind. In the end the street in front of our house was practically dry.

I hope that TS Gamma never develops enough to become the kind of threat that Michelle was in 2001. If it does, the central Bahamas may have to deal with the same distructive storm surge brought by Hurricane Wilma a few weeks ago


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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During the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, this blog will focus on tropical systems that impact The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands.

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