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August 31, 2008

Gustav stumbles, still dangerous; Hanna slows

NOAAHurricane Gustav remains a minimal Cat. 3 storm this afternoon after wind shear prevented an orderly ramping up of its power as it moved over warm currents in the Gulf. He is looking a little asymetrical in the satellite photos. Nevertheless, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say the storm is packing top sustained winds of 115 mph, and could restrengthen as it moves on toward landfall in Louisiana tomorrow.

Gustav's winds had slowed to within a couple of miles-per-hour of becoming a Cat. 2. But hurricane hunter aircraft probing the storm's core this afternoon found signs of a slow increase. It's not clear how much it might intensify from here. The waters from where Gustav is now to the NOAAcoast are cooler (left), with less energy to lend the storm. And the wind shear continues to throttle the heat engines that power the cyclone.

That said, a Cat. 3 hurricane - even a "minimal" Cat. 3 - is still a fearsome thing, and nobody wants to stick around to test it.

The chief issue now is where, exactly, Gustav will go ashore. The forecasters and their computers are all over the place on this. The consensus seems to be that the surrounding atmospherics are shoving the storm track slightly to the west. The hurricane warnings have been moved west to High Island, Tex.  On the other hand, the warnings that extend eastward to the Florida/Alabama line have not changed.

There is even more disagreement about where a weakened Gustav will go after landfall. Some models have it stalling out over Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas and dropping a flood on those folks. Other projections send the storm to the southwest. Still others turn it with the westerlies and carry it north and east - toward us!

Anyway, here is the latest advisory for Gustav. Here is the forecast storm track. And here is how he looks from space.

Looks like the party people have fled New Orleans. Here's a web cam view of Bourbon Street. And here's I-10. Ghost town. Here are more NOLA webcams.

As for Tropical Storm Hanna, Gustav's little sister seems to be slowing and moving without much conviction in the Atlantic east of the Bahamas. The poor dear is being pummeled by shearing winds from the north, and the outflow from Gustav. So she is having trouble maintaining her strength.

That said, four or five days out, forecasters say, the conditions should improve, and Hanna is expected to strengthen. One forecast track, at least, sends Hanna into the Georgia/South Carolina coast - as a hurricane - by the end of the week. Here's a thought: What if Gustav's rains, and Hanna's rains, converge on the mid-Atlantic by next weekend. That would be some kinda rain. Check your sump pumps.

It's really way too early to put much stock in that. But here's the map, just for the record.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 4:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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