Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 08/30/2008

Category 4 Gustav Heads for Gulf

By Dan Stillman

U.S. landfall expected late Monday or early Tuesday

Forecast track for Hurricane Gustav as of 11 a.m. today from the National Hurricane Center.

Yesterday was the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall along the Louisiana-Mississippi coast. And it is with that memory in mind that preprations are taking place today along the Gulf Coast in advance of Hurricane Gustav's possible arrival, sometime late Monday or early Tuesday and somewhere between southeast Texas and eastern Mississippi. Gustav is expected to pass over western Cuba later today and tonight, and then move into the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday.

As expected, Gustav intensified rapidly overnight, and at midday, Gustav was a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds around 145 mph and higher gusts. A majority of the computer models are showing a landfall along the central Louisiana coast, with a couple models hinting at a movement further west, toward Texas, just before landfall. Uncertainty remains high as to what its intensity will be at landfall. Meanwhile, further out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Hanna bears watching.

Keep reading for more on Gustav and an interactive tracking map. For local Washington, D.C. weather, see our full forecast, and UnitedCast and NatCast if you're headed to tonight's games.

Satellite shot of Hurricane Gustav from 11:45 a.m. today. Courtesy NOAA.


Evacuations are underway in New Orleans, which is less than 100 miles east of the most likely landfall location and well inside the cone of uncertainty. The Houston Chronicle's SciGuy explains why a landfall just west of New Orleans could do more damage than Katrina, which came ashore just east of the Big Easy. Meanwhile, oil companies are shutting down and evacuating platforms in the Gulf. The Red Cross has an online newsroom detailing its preparations and resources available to the public.


There's never a good time for a hurricane. But Gustav's timing is particularly tricky. Labor Day Weekend travelers are changing their schedules. The Republican National Convention could be rescheduled, though convention planners may now be leaning away from such a move. And Gustav has disrupted the start of college football season, forcing the kickoff of today's LSU-Appalachian State game in Baton Rouge, La., to be moved from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. CT. Oh, and Gustav is probably making media newsrooms crazy, already overloaded by news from the Democratic Convention, the upcoming Republican Convention, and John McCain's VP announcement yesterday.

Not that any of these inconveniences compare with Gustav's life-threatening potential.


The U.S. Geological Survey said yesterday that starting today its scientists would be installing "rapidly-deployable mobile gages and storm-surge sensors" to support forecasting and emergency response. Real-time flooding and storm surge data, from these devices and instruments already in place, is available to anyone on the interactive Hurricane Gustav Hydrologic Impacts Map.

For the latest news on Gustav, we like The Times-Picayune New Orleans Hurricane Center, the Houston Chronicle's SciGuy, and the USA Today Weather Guys.

Track Gustav, Hanna and several other areas of disturbed weather in the tropics, using the interactive map below.

Powered by hurricane-tracking software from Pan, zoom, and click on points along the storm's projected track for intensity forecasts.

By Dan Stillman  | August 30, 2008; 1:50 PM ET
Categories:  Tropical Weather  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Shower Chance Saturday, Sunny Sunday
Next: NatCast: Sunday Sunshine


I've noticed that a couple of the most recent models show Gustav hooking left and missing the US coast altogether. Is that really becoming a valid possibility?

Posted by: Etta | August 30, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

This was in a 1:20 PM EDT update on the NHC:


Posted by: weatherdudeVA | August 30, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Etta, Right now the track depends on how strong the high pressure center that will be over our area this week gets, as well as how far to the South and West it is centered. If it's strong enough, it may deflect it westward (south-weastward?) away from the most heavily populated areas. However, once it reaches the gulf, a US landfall is almost a certainty in one form or another, just becuase it will effectively have nowhere else to go. If it gets deflected however, it may be significantly weaker by the time it makes landfall.

Posted by: Brian, Capital Weather Gang | August 30, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

GOP rationale for delaying the convention: The Republicans don't want to be seen "partying" in the Twin Cities while New Orleans takes ANOTHER huge hurricane hit per Gustav.

[However, we Obama supporters RELISH the prospect. McCain has already damaged himself a bit by picking the most right-wing, pro-life, pro-offshore drilling woman he can find, AK Gov. Sarah Palin, to be his running mate. I bet he will get VERY FEW Hillary Clinton supporters to "commit" to McCain with such a ludicrous move. Sort of reminds me of the elder Bush's Dan Quayle pick.

Has anyone ever thought of a CWG "All Politics" forum such as the Eastern Wx site has???]

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Question for Brian and the Gang - my understanding is that the worst thing for NO would be a hit to the west, so that the spin of Gustav and the forward-speed enhanced winds of the front right quadrant push Ponchartrain full of water. But how far to the west? What's the worst-case scenario here - landfall ten miles west of the city? 50? 100?

Posted by: David | August 30, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

And, as a follow-up to Anonymous, no, Obama supporters do NOT "relish" New Orleans taking "ANOTHER huge hurricane hit." That's absurd, absolutely moronic.

Posted by: David | August 30, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

This was in the 2PM advisory on Gustav:


David: To defend Anonymous a bit, I think he/she was referring to (some) Obama supporters "relishing" the thought of the Republicans looking really bad right before the election, not a devastating hurricane making landfall. That's all I'll say on that...

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | August 30, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

David, yes, west is worst for New Orleans, but just how far is difficult to know at this point. As noted many times, there is little skill in forecasting the intensity of Gustav as it approaches landfall. Moreover, intensity only tells you what the maximum wind is ANYWHERE in the storm domain.

Even if we could forecast the intensity, and assuming the max winds are in the right forward quadrant - meaning a strong southerly component for New Orleans, the worst case scenario as to how far west the track greatly depends upon the speed (slower approach the worst = longer fetch to coast) and how far out from the storm center hurricane force winds extend - could be anywhere from 10 to perhaps as much as 100-200 miles. Skillful Forecasts of these parameters this far ahead should not be expected.

Perhaps the most important factor is related to whether the levees will hold - and even the engineers who rebuilt them after Katrina don't know that!

Posted by: Steve Tracton | August 30, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Central pressure continues to drop, about 939mb now.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | August 30, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Gustav is now a CAT 5 hurricane.

Posted by: Scott | August 30, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

At least this time there is a Republican Govenor in office in Louisiana who will know that HE has to lead! Looks like he is getting a passing grade at this early stage. Flash Back 3 years ago and you will remember that media hungry Nagin and Deer Caught in the Headlights Blanco were lost while President Bush was trying to leave it up to the local government to run things. Every forgets that Mississippi got things right and took more of a direct hit from Katrina and had it not been for the levees breaking in New Orleans; NO proper would have been spared.

Posted by: Greg | August 30, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

If you want to read an excellent book about the dynamics of a hurricane and how Nagin hid in a hotel during the hurricane, wandered around talking to the walls, and never did one thing for the people before the storm try to find "The Great Deluge". You can find it online for as little as $3.95.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Can we please leave our political agendas for another medium? You know full well that all you're going to do is create anger and arguments. Your political beliefs have their place, this is not it. There are more than enough weather topics to discuss, especially with the tropics heating up.

Posted by: Brian, Capital Weather Gang | August 30, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

The interactive map, blog information and comments are terrific. As a resident of the Eastern Shore of MD I can get info on the regional weather as well as big stories like Gustav. Is there a reason I can't see the hurricane models on the map as I did yesterday? I found it interesting to see some of the source data used by the meterologists to predict the path of the storm.

Posted by: Danny | August 30, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Someone beat me to the punch. Gustav absolutely has to be a Cat 5 and the Isle of Youth didn't even faze it. But what is interesting is the size of the eye. This is no pinhole eye like Wilma, this eye has to be 35, maybe 50 miles across and it is perfectly symmetrical. Check out the latest GOES floater IR, I will admit I've never seen an eye this large in a Cat 5 hurricane.

Posted by: Steve Wasko | August 30, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Steve W., do you have a link to that GOES image?


Posted by: David A. in Stafford | August 30, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Something else interesting is that Gustav has just taken another northward jog. He was moving northward for a little while earlier today and the NHC adjusted their projected path to the right a little. Any northward detours cannot be a good sign for New Orleans.

Posted by: Steve Wasko | August 30, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Is the storm going to pass over the loop eddy? I couldnt find a current location?

Posted by: Gene | August 30, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Link to NHC Satellite images. The GOES floater #1 is the first in a long list of images - very interesting:

Posted by: Steve Wasko | August 30, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Gene, here's an image that shows the loop current. Gustav will pass over at least part of it, and maybe over the section with the highest heat potential.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | August 30, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Gustav Eye passing over western Cuba:

This is relatively flat area of Cuba and Gustav won't be over land very long, so effects on Gustav should be minimal.

Posted by: Steve Tracton | August 30, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I think we have to accept that, with a blog based in the capital of the United States, comments are often going to take on a political overtone. That's fine; we get our weather information from the posts themselves, not the commentary from amateurs like me. What ISN'T fine is when people start to shift from a genial, conversational tone to hate posts, flame wars and general trolling. I'm certainly not going to give up on the site if I see a rotten comment here and there, but if we have to get in attack mode every five or six seconds, I might as well drop my "mcleaNed" persona.

For the sake of the posters who really do care about the weather, I think it's the responsibility of folks like Ian, Steve and Brian to delete posts that are only going to lead to name calling and personal attacks.

Posted by: mcleaNed | August 30, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

According to the Google Earth weather feature, Gustav's eye is about 20 miles wide. You could easily fit DC in there and have room to spare.

Posted by: mcleaNed | August 30, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Gustav has about 2 hours to cross western Cuba and so far the eye, nearly completely inland, shows no signs of collapsing or weakening. The eyewall looks as strong onshore as it did offshore.

Posted by: Steve Wasko | August 30, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I love satellite images taken right as the sun is setting...because of the angle of the sun (which creates shadows visible from the satellite), you can truly tell how high the clouds are. Can you desktop background?

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | August 30, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

If I recall correctly, I read on a Weather Underground blog (a recon report mentioned in the comment section?) that Gustav's eye is 27 miles in diameter.

Posted by: Murre | August 30, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Judging from the Key West long range radar loop, Gustav is about to emerge into the GOMEX, with little, if any loss in intensity from his journey over land. The latest radar still show the eye looking a little squashed from top to bottom but otherwise very intact. Cat 5 appears almost a certainty, it's just a matter of how long and how close to Louisiana before cooler water or upper level winds have an impact. Katrina redux and it could be worse. . .

Posted by: Steve Wasko | August 30, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

All highways leading out of New Orleans are now backlogged, Accuweather says. This is why it pays to evacuate early and not wait to make the decision (if one has the financial resources).

Posted by: mcleaNed | August 30, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Is Gustav shifting to a more northward track? Satellite loop makes it appear so.

Posted by: Huntington Mark | August 30, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

mcleaNed: They're starting contraflow at 6AM tomorrow morning according to WTOP...apparently 8 hours too late.

Huntington Mark: NHC still has Gustav on the same track as of 11PM advisory.

Gustav has weakened slightly to 140 MPH, and is expected to gain all strength back plus some by tomorrow.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | August 30, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks weatherdude.

Posted by: Huntington Mark | August 30, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I love today's comments section!! Thanks for all of the info folks!

Posted by: Laura in NWDC | August 30, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

They could build a new pair of highways heading out of the city, and it wouldn't be enough. Though contraflow should provide some relief, at the very least.

I've been blessed enough not to have to evacuate, but I imagine that motorcycles must be well suited for the task. You could weave through cars and not have to wait in lines for so long.

Posted by: mcleaNed | August 31, 2008 1:04 AM | Report abuse

mcleaNed: If you're weaving through traffic on a motorcycle, the hurricane is the LEAST you'd have to worry about. If you don't get pulled over by a cop first, the people evacuating will get ya...

Oh, and I was wrong about the contraflow thing. It's beginning at 4AM. They have AT LEAST until very early Monday morning to evacuate, so let's hope that as many people get out as possible. Latest NHC track has Gustav making landfall just before 8 PM CDT Monday evening.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | August 31, 2008 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Well, my point is that I would be the only vehicle moving. All the other traffic would be stalled, meaning my "weaving" would really just be me moving in between the lanes as all the other cars just sit there.

Posted by: mcleaNed | August 31, 2008 2:41 AM | Report abuse

I know Gustav is comming. But Hanna is shifting in her tracks as well. Models are predicting much more NW track and it seems they are beginning to trend an possible east coast hit maybe SC/NC/VA. Its too early to tell but I think she bears watching as well.

Posted by: Active Atlantic | August 31, 2008 4:38 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company