for a more recent update on Gustav, CLICK HERE
As expected, Hurricane Gustav has developed rapidly and will continue to do so. That satellite imagery is beautiful with a symmetrical storm, good outflow and a well defined eye. Its winds jumped to 100 mph at 2AM and now they are at 125 mph. The forecast takes it to 140 mph for at least part of Gustav’s life. The pressure was around 971 mb and now has fallen to 954mb. The satellite imagery looks beautiful which means it is quite powerful. In fact, I’d speculate that it is the most powerful
force on the face of the earth at this time with a heat energy output on the order of a 10 megaton atomic bomb every 20 minutes. Cuba should not be too much of an impediment, though since Gustav may clip more of western Cuba, it may knock it to the canvas for a standing eight count and then Gustav will come out swinging again.
The only real change is in the spaghetti modeling data. The spaghetti intensity modeling graph has made a big shift. Not surprising since it now has new imput that has the storm initialized in its data as a much stronger storm. So, now some 17 models take it between cat 4 and cat 5 at some point in time. That is something I have been saying almost from the time that Gustav was born. This does not mean it will make landfall at that intensity. It’s pretty rare for a storm to hit that strong. That’s because its tough for a storm to have all of the elements come together that are necessary for a Cat 5 status and then keep those elements in tact. Then if the environmental conditions
are conducive over a period of time for a Cat 5 hurricane, then there are eye-wall replacement cycles that go on in which an eye collapses and a new one forms. During this process, the storm tends to lose intensity before regaining form. We’ve had several big storms approach land as it was going through a replacement cycle and they hit at a lesser intensity. However, don’t be fooled. Katrina was a Cat 5 that went through a replacement cycle. It was officially a cat 3 when it made landfall. But, the storm surge was consistent with a landfalling category 5 hurricane. It also appears from my observations over the years that during a replacement cycle the wind energy field, while diminishing its maxima, seems to expand. So, instead of having a max wind of 150 mph with 100 mph winds 60 miles out, there is a max wind of 120 mph with 100 mph winds 100 miles out. In other words, it doesn’t really lose kinetic energy, its just expanded over a larger area. That is just an observation of mine…no research no study….just the world according to Bob.
Anyway, the track is still clustered from one side of Vermillion Bay in Louisiana to the other, with about 12
models in that area. But, several remain insistent on a track farther west with a few of those now adding a new wrinkle…a turn Southwest along the Texas coast several hundred miles offshore. Improbable, it seems to me, but interesting. Of more concern may be that now there are two models that put New Orleans in its path. A storm of this maginitude striking New Orleans at this angle of attack would probably be more catastrophic to New Orleans than Katrina. While we certainly do not wish bad things on anyone, let us hope that New Orleans is not near the right side of the eye. Remember, New Orleans was not hit by a hurricane in 2005…it was Mississippi. Please look to the following for a slide show that will remind you how New Orleans flooded in a time line fashion. (How Katrina really flooded New Orleans…not what the media necessarily led you to believe)
Anyway, this storm is not going away. With the upper level environment now as it is, there is really nothing in the foreseeable future that will stand in its way. Here is the 11AM National Hurricane Center Gustav Discusion:
HURRICANE GUSTAV DISCUSSION NUMBER 23 NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072008 1100 AM EDT SAT AUG 30 2008 AFTER RAPIDLY INTENSIFYING OVERNIGHT…THE STRENGTHENING RATE APPEARS TO HAVE SLOWED A LITTLE…ALTHOUGH THE CENTRAL PRESSURE REPORTED BY RECON HAS CONTINUED TO FALL THIS MORNING…WITH THE MOST RECENT VALUE DOWN TO 954 MB. THE BRIEF TIME GUSTAV WILL SPEND OVER WESTERN CUBA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO SHOULD NOT WEAKEN THE HURRICANE MUCH…AND ALL INTENSITY GUIDANCE INDICATES CONDITIONS ARE CONDUCIVE OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO FOR ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING…ESPECIALLY OVER THE SOUTHERN GULF WHERE OCEANIC HEAT CONTENT IS GREATEST. THE NEW OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST PEAKS A LITTLE HIGHER AT 120 KT…VERY CLOSE TO A CONSENSUS OF THE AVAILABLE MODELS. DESPITE THE IMPLIED WEAKENING BETWEEN 48 AND 72 HOURS DUE TO FORECAST LANDFALL…NO DRAMATIC WEAKENING IS FORECAST WHILE GUSTAV REMAINS OVER THE GULF…AND IT COULD REACH THE NORTHERN GULF COAST AS A MAJOR HURRICANE. GUSTAV JOGGED NORTHWARD DURING THE PAST FEW HOURS…AND IT IS NOT YET CLEAR IF IT HAS RESUMED A NORTHWESTWARD HEADING…BUT THE LONG-TERM MOTION ESTIMATE IS NORTHWESTWARD OR 320/12. THE STEERING CURRENTS PUSHING GUSTAV NORTHWESTWARD ARE GENERALLY WELL-DEFINED AND SHOULD REMAIN THAT WAY FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS…AS THE HURRICANE MOVES AROUND THE WESTERN PERIPHERY OF A MID-LEVEL RIDGE OVER THE WESTERN ATLANTIC. BEYOND 48 HOURS…MOST OF THE GUIDANCE INDICATES A SLOWING OF THE FORWARD MOTION AS A STRONG BUT DISTANT RIDGE BUILDS OVER THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES AND STEERING CURRENTS WEAKEN OVER THE GULF COAST STATES. NONE OF THE MODELS HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGED THEIR TRACK SOLUTION COMPARED TO THE PREVIOUS CYCLE…SO THE CONSENSUS HAS REMAINED IN PLACE. THE SPREAD AT 3-5 DAYS IS STILL SUBSTANTIAL…HOWEVER…WITH SOME MODELS INCLUDING THE UKMET AND HWRF CALLING FOR GUSTAV TO TURN WESTWARD JUST BEFORE REACHING THE NORTHERN GULF COAST. THE NEW OFFICIAL FORECAST TRACK REMAINS CONSISTENT WITH THE REMAINING GUIDANCE IN TAKING GUSTAV INLAND IN LESS THAN 72 HOURS…AND IS JUST EDGED EVER SO SLIGHTLY TO THE RIGHT…IN PART TO ACCOUNT FOR THE RECENT RIGHT OF TRACK MOTION. REGARDLESS OF THE DETAILS IN THE TRACK…GUSTAV WILL LIKELY SLOW DOWN SIGNIFICANTLY IN THE LONGER-TERM…WHICH COULD CAUSE A CONSIDERABLE FLOODING THREAT OVER LOUISIANA AND TEXAS. FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS INITIAL 30/1500Z 21.2N 82.1W 110 KT 12HR VT 31/0000Z 22.5N 83.5W 105 KT…OVER WESTERN CUBA 24HR VT 31/1200Z 24.3N 85.4W 115 KT 36HR VT 01/0000Z 26.0N 87.3W 120 KT 48HR VT 01/1200Z 27.8N 89.2W 110 KT 72HR VT 02/1200Z 30.5N 92.5W 65 KT…INLAND 96HR VT 03/1200Z 31.5N 94.0W 35 KT…INLAND 120HR VT 04/1200Z 32.0N 95.5W 30 KT…INLAND $$ FORECASTER KNABB