Gustav Grows Again; Hello Hanna
After taking a serious beating over mountainous Haiti, Gustav has recovered remarkably over the deep, warm waters of the northwest Caribbean. In 12 hours, it has strengthened from minimal tropical storm to near-hurricane intensity. While intensifying, Gustav shifted surprisingly south, and is headed for Jamaica, where hurricane warnings are in effect. Meanwhile, we now have tropical storm Hannah in the Atlantic.
The latest track guidance takes Gustav on a northwest track through the Caribbean and Yucatan Channel into the central Gulf of Mexico late Sunday. Landfall possibilities range from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle early next week. New Orleans remains near the center of model forecasts. But the region in the track bullseye now may well shift with landfall still four days away and the uncertainty in these forecasts. Having said that, the city of New Orleans is making the right move by starting to plan for a hurricane landfall now.
Gustav's strengthening trend should slow or even reverse as it interacts with Jamaica, but should resume in earnest once it's over the open Caribbean and possibly interacts with the super warm loop current in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The intensity forecast becomes more uncertain as Gustav approaches landfall early next week, but weakening is more likely than strengthening. However, modest weakening of a possible major hurricane may be little consolation to the whatever location Gustav happens to strike.
Tropical storm Hanna is forecast to track northwest towards the northern Bahamas over the next five days. This storm should become a hurricane, and possibly an intense one. It's too early to say whether it will impact the U.S. East Coast. As it draws closer, the National Hurricane Center indicates the steering flow could weaken causing Hanna to meander for a while, or it may be swept out to sea by a front moving off the East Coast...
Track Gustav, Hanna and several other areas of disturbed weather in the tropics, using the interactive map below.
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