Definitely not a “dove” for those in the Caymans and central Cuba

Hurricane Paloma (or “dove” in Spanish, how ironic is that?) has punished the Cayman Islands overnight, passing over Cayman Brac (where the calm of the eye was noted for a few hours)and almost directly over Little Cayman, and sideswiping Grand Cayman, after intensifying in a matter of two days to a destructive Category 4 storm. Paloma has put 2008 in the record books once again as the only noted hurricane season to have major (Cat 3+) storms in five separate months – July (Bertha), August (Gustav), September (Ike), October (Omar), and November (Paloma)! 2005 was the only other year with majors in 4 separate months (no major hurricane in November 2005). Paloma is also the second strongest November hurricane on record, behind only Lenny (1999).

I’ve included a few satellite images, and one infrared loop, of extremely dangerous Paloma below. The visible satellite, and zoomed VIS shot above, are the first space shots of the morning after the sun rise over the storm.

Here are the latest details: As of 9am CST, Paloma was located 130 nm/ENE of Grand Cayman with sustained wind maxing out at 140 mph. The storm is moving ENE/9 mph and on this track will cross the central Cuban coast overnight, still as a major hurricane, with a devastating storm surge of 17-23 feet. The mountainous Cuban landmass, as well as increasing shear, are expected to do a number on Paloma and it will emerge back into the Atlantic in a much tamer form, though at least tropical storm force conditions are likely for the central Bahamas. The extended forecast calls for the low-level center of the storm to stall out between the Bahamas and Cuba, while the upper-levels get sheared out and continue northeast.

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