***Felix a Catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane***
At 8:00pm CDT –
– The center of Category 5 Hurricane Felix was located 390 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. Movement is towards the west-northwest at 18mph and this motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. Maximum sustained winds are near 165mph and fluctuations in intensity are likely, especially during eyewall replacement cycles. However, Felix should remain a dangerous Category 5 hurricane. Minimum surface pressure is 934mb.
– Hurricane force winds extend outward to 25 miles and tropical storm force winds to 115 miles; Felix is a small/compact storm.
– Landfall is still expected in central Belize by Wednesday noon.
Amazing reports from NHC this evening and such is the impetus for this discussion. The vortex message from 2347z indicated a continued closed eye with a dropsonde measuring an eye pressure of 934mb. The hurricane hunters reported lightning in all quadrants along with groupel. The turbulence in the eyewall was so severe that the flight was aborted. The 700mb level has lowered another 100 meters in the past 4.5 hours and is at 2601 meters. The surface pressure has gone from 993mb at 8pm yesterday to 934mb 24 hours later, amazing.
There is little reason for Felix to weaken at this point as the storm is well structured and the waters ahead of it are warm. There will be fluctuations in intensity as Felix undergoes eyewall replacement cycles. This is normal for a hurricane of this strength and very tough to forecast. The net strength should remain in the Category 5 range. With Felix being such a small system, some rapid intensity changes may occur, not ignoring the obvious past 12 hours of course.
Track wise, there is no change over the next 60 hours. Felix should make first landfall in central Belize sometime Wednesday morning before noon.
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