Tomas strengthened to hurricane status and is currently lashing Hispaniola and eastern Cuba today and the GOES-13 satellite provided a visible image of its extensive cloud cover.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite known as GOES-13 captured a visible image of Hurricane Tomas on Nov. 5 at 1331 UTC (9:31 a.m. EDT) centered over the southwestern tip of Haiti. In the image the clouds to the north of Tomas are associated with a cold front off the eastern U.S. coast. GOES satellites are operated by NOAA. The NASA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. created today's GOES-13 image, and other images and animations using GOES satellite data.
During the morning hours of Nov. 5, Tomas' maximum sustained winds were around 85 mph and is a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla. noted that Tomas could strengthen further today, then begin to weaken on Saturday, Nov. 6.
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles especially northeast through southeast of the center. That makes the storm about 280 miles stretching from northeast to southeast.
At 8 a.m. EDT on Nov. 5, Tomas' center was about 80 miles south-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba and 160 miles west of Port Au Prince Haiti, near 18.8 North latitude and 74.7 West longitude. Minimum central pressure is near 987 millibars. Tomas is moving to the northeast near 10 mph, and is expected to speed up over the next couple of days.
At 9 a.m. EDT, the airport at Port Au Prince, Haiti was reporting rain with easterly winds near 14 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Satellite imagery at 9:47 a.m. EDT showed Tomas' cloud cover extended from the Dominican Republic in the east, westward to Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, Cuba. Turks and Caicos Islands were also under Tomas' cloud cover at that time.
Tomas' center was western Haiti this morning (Nov. 5), near extreme eastern Cuba today, and over the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands later today and tonight.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands, and the province of Guantanamo in Cuba. Tropical storm warnings are up for Jamaica and the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Holguin in Cuba. A Tropical storm watch is in effect for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from the Haiti border east to Barahona .
Rainfall is a serious threat from Tomas, particularly in the mountainous areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic where hillsides have been denuded of forests. These rains could cause life-threatening flashfloods or mudslides. Haiti and the Dominican Republic can expect 5 to 10 inches of rain, locally up to 15 inches. Jamaica may get 1 to 3 inches of rain. The Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas could see 3 to 6 inches.
Explore further: More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake