Ike now a Cat. 3 hurricane; Josephine weakens
The National Hurricane Center this afternoon upgraded Tropical Storm Ike to hurricane status. Farther west, Hanna was regrouping and turning for the Carolinas. And to the east in the Atlantic, meanwhile, Tropical Storm Josephine was losing strength.
UPDATE: 8:45 P.M. Ike has been upgraded again this evening. It is now a Category 3 storm with top sustained winds of 115 mph. Earlier post resumes below.
Ike is now the fifth hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic season. It was 670 miles east northeast of the northern Leeward Islands, moving toward the west-northwest at 18 mph with top sustained winds of about 80 mph. Forecasters said:
"THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TONIGHT
AND EARLY THURSDAY...FOLLOWED BY A TURN TO THE WEST ON THURSDAY
NIGHT AND FRIDAY...TAKING IKE OVER THE OPEN WATERS OF THE
WEST-CENTRAL ATLANTIC DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. IT IS TOO
EARLY TO DETERMINE WHAT IF ANY LAND AREAS MIGHT EVENTUALLY BE
AFFECTED BY IKE."
Farther east, Josephine was wheezing a bit, and may not survive. Here's the forecasters' assessment:
"STRONG VERTICAL SHEAR AND DRY AIR HAVE REALLY WORKED A NUMBER ON
JOSEPHINE DURING THE LAST SEVERAL HOURS. AFTER LOOKING RATHER
IMPRESSIVE EARLY THIS MORNING...THE SATELLITE PRESENTATION HAS
SINCE RAPIDLY DEGRADED. CLOUD TOPS HAVE WARMED AND THERE IS NOW A
NOTICEABLE LACK OF ORGANIZATION." Read more here.
In the meantime, Hanna, our most immediate threat, seemed to be getting better organized, and the air pressure at her center was falling - a sign of intensification. You can read more here. Hanna is moving north at 12 mph, and was expected to accelerate. Top sustained winds remain at about 60 mph, but she is still expected to become a hurricane (73 mph) as soon as tomorrow.
Here's the latest discussion of Hanna from the folks at WeatherBug:
"The uncertainty with the track forecast remains high. In order for Hanna to continue to move northwest, the ocean storm that has been parked near Nova Scotia for more than a week needs to retreat northward very rapidly, allowing ridging to develop where Hanna is headed. The longer the delay, the more likely a westward track towards Melbourne or Jacksonville, Fla., becomes. The NOGAPS (NGPS) model is the one closest to this particular scenario. All of the other model forecasts take Hanna further north or east, mainly into the Carolinas on Saturday morning.
"The intensity forecast is a bit more certain. Deep warm water is available just east of the Bahamas up toward the Carolina coast, which will be favorable for strengthening to a hurricane. Due to the influence of the ocean storm, this increase in intensity likely will hold off until Friday. It is unlikely that Hanna will intensify beyond Category 1 strength. However, if the ocean storm can move off to the northeast quickly, Hanna does have an outside shot at reaching Category 2 strength before making landfall."