***Felix a Category 4 Hurricane***
At 4:00pm –
– The center of Category 4 Major Hurricane Felix was located 440 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. Movement is towards the west-northwest at 20mph and this motion should continue the next 24 hours. Maximum sustained winds are 140mph and further strengthening is forecast. Minimum surface pressure is 956mb.
– Hurricane force winds extend outward to 25 miles and tropical storm force winds to 115 miles.
– Landfall is expected in Central Belize by noon Wednesday.
– Felix not a threat to the U.S. through Wednesday.
Felix doing as expected today, rapid intensification the past few hours. The 19z vortex message showed that the 700mb level had decreased 200 meters in 6.5 hours to 2703 meters. Further intensification is likely and Felix should become a Cat 5 by tomorrow. The IR satellite presentation is impressive with deep convection around the eye. The vortex message also shows that Felix has a 12 nm eye with notation of the "stadium effect." With warm waters ahead of Felix over the next 48 hours, Felix should maintain its strength. Only the SHPS model brings Felix to Cat 5 and by Monday night, all the other models are below below Cat 5. Current indications point to the models underestimating Felix's potential. NHC's latest discussion indicated that Felix's central pressure has been dropping at a rate of 3.4 mb/hour; one of the more rapid they've observed.
The track forecast continues to be the same as Dean's with a strong deep layer ridge to the north of Felix. Said ridge will keep Felix about 200 miles farther south than Dean. Current indicates by NHC are for landfall in central Belize on Wednesday morning. Felix is a rapid moving system at a rather consistent 18mph. Felix will then spend a lot of time crossing the Yucatan and should lose a lot of organization. However, as with Dean, Felix should remain a hurricane due to the rapid westward motion. Around this time NHC has a northwest motion with Felix. The strength of the ridge at this time period is unknown, pretty much around Friday. GFS and ECMWF have a shortwave trof moving near Oklahoma, which may be enough to weaken the ridge. If this happens, then the Texas Coast could be under a threat from Felix. However, given we're 5 days out and all the associated uncertainties with a tropical system, there is no reason to get crazy with the forecast track.
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