Gustav Weaker, but should Strengthen
At 10:00am CDT –
– A hurricane warning remains posted for parts of southeast Cuba.
– The center of Tropical Storm Gustav was located 125 miles southeast
of Guantanamo, Cuba. Gustav is moving to the west-northwest at 5mph
and some increase in forward speed is expected. Maximum sustained
winds are near 60mph and Gustav is still expected to become a
hurricane by Thursday. Minimum surface pressure is 997mb.
– Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center.
– Interest in eastern Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama are urged to
monitor the progress of Gustav.
Gustav spent a lot of time over Haiti, which when combined with the
mountainous terrain did a lot to weaken the system. Recent hurricane
hunter pass did not reveal a very strong system, but NHC has noted
increased organization on RADAR. Infrared imagery is decent, but not
impressive. The majority of convection appears to be removed from
the center to the east. None of this is really shocking and does not
change the intensity philosophy beyond 24 hours. As Gustav continues
to move away from Haiti, it should start to organize and strengthen.
This will take a good 24 hours due to the impacts from crossing Haiti.
NHC noted there is some moderate northerly shear and this will also
impact the intensity forecast. The shear appears to weaken as Gustav
gets closer to Cuba and this should allow the system to strengthen.
These parameters should come together by late Thursday. As such,
Gustav is forecast to be a hurricane as it passes south of Cuba.
Beyond 24 hours, there is little to keep Gustav from intensifying and
NHC has it as a Cat 3 by Saturday afternoon. There does appear to be
an upper level low in the path of Gustav around late Saturday into
Sunday. This may cause some shear, but the impacts are quite
difficult to derive this far out. With very warm water ahead of
Gustav there seems little reason to believe that it won't reach Cat 3
and maintain it through Sunday.
The forecast track for the next 24 hours is a little uncertain as
Gustav hasn't been moving as expected. There is a west-northwest
movement now and this appears to be in response to the mid-level ridge
that has developed over Florida. I'd feel a little better about the
track forecast once Gustav speeds up, but the current 290/300 heading
is good enough for now. Assuming the current motion holds, Gustav
will continue to move just a little north of west through the next 36
hours and by early Friday head more northwest. This is NHC's official
track and is quite close to the 06z HWRF. The 06z GFDL model is a
little west of the HWRF but both of them target the southeast
Louisiana Coast around Monday. Please note that the forecast track
120 hours out is usually wrong and is provided for tracking purposes.
Do not focus on the 120 hour track being just south of New Orleans,
despite the agreement of the GFDL and HWRF.
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