Keys ordered to evacuate for Ike; likely track shifts south

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:27 AM GMT on September 06, 2008

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Just a quick update on the expected track for Hurricane Ike--the latest 18Z (2 pm EDT) computer model runs have completed. The newest tracks of the GFDL, HWRF, and UKMET are all about 50 miles further south than before, bringing Ike over eastern Cuba, then along Cuba or just south of Cuba before popping out into the Gulf of Mexico. The other two models, the GFS and NOGAPS, did not change their forecasts appreciably, and forecast a track through the Keys without hitting Cuba. These new model runs imply a slight lessening of the risk of Ike hitting South Florida, Southwest Florida, and the central and western Bahamas. However, the risk to the Keys is still unacceptably high, and a mandatory evacuation order has been given. I urge all Keys residents to comply with the evacuation orders. Ike is capable of causing a 14-foot storm surge in the Keys, as Hurricane Donna did in 1960. This is a storm you must evacuate for.

Figure 1. Expected maximum storm tide (storm surge plus adjustment for hitting at high tide) from a Category 4 hurricane moving WNW at 15 mph through the Florida Keys, hitting at high tide. This plot is an ensemble of many different hurricane tracks (shown as black lines), not just one hurricane. The maximum surge from the ensemble is plotted here. The model used is NOAA's SLOSH model. Note that oceanside surge is a foot to two feet lower than bay-side surge. Bay-side surge comes well after the storm center has passed the Keys, from the westerly winds behind the storm. Too many people have been harmed because they thought it was safe to go near the water on the bay side just after a storm has passed. Image credit: Dr. Stephen Baig, NOAA.

My previous blog has my 5pm thoughts on things.

See you in the morning.

Jeff Masters

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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