Gustav and Hanna, the terrible twins

By: Levi32 , 7:54 PM GMT on August 29, 2008

Tropical Storm Gustav 11am EST:

Gustav has finally cleared Jamaica after weakening a bit yesterday. He is now moving WNW but in the process of turning towards the NW around the southern periphery of the high to his north this morning. The models are now in good agreement on a track over western Cuba in 36 hours, and I agree. Thereafter the picture becomes murky, as the models still diverge a great deal in the northern GOM. Most of Gustav's end game will depend on a high moving over the Great Lakes in 4-5 days. If this high ridges southwestward far enough, it could stall or turn Gustav towards the west just off the coast and greatly affect his final landfall location. If this high does not extend far enough south, Gustav will blast NNW without stopping. Currently I am still leaning towards the left, as I think the high will indeed come into play towards the end. A landfall in western Louisiana or near the Texas border seems likely to me here, but it is still way too far out to speculate, as Gustav still poses a threat to a large portion of the gulf coast. Everybody from Texas to the Florida Panhandle should be preparing for a hurricane to be in their vicinity early next week.

Gustav is about to give us lesson 1-01 in how to strengthen. He is going to be moving over the extremely warm waters of the NW Caribbean for the next 24-36 hours, and with absolutely beautiful outflow due to an anticyclone situated above him, I expect significant if not explosive deepening from Gustav today and tomorrow. This may not begin right away, as it is my sense from looking at satellite imagery that Gustav has some work to do on his core after his interactions with Jamaica. It is very possible that Gustav will become a major hurricane before crossing western Cuba, but the Cayman Islands will only get a 1 or a 2. Cuba will only be a speed-bump for Gustav, and he will likely remain a major 3 or 4 hurricane in the GOM. The intensity forecast for Gustav's eventual landfall is also very problematic and still too far out to speculate on. An upper trough currently over the GOM is forecast to retrograde westward as Gustav noses into the area, but it is unclear at this time how far the trough will move. If the trough doesn't move much it could mean moderate SW shear over Gustav before landfall, which may serve to weaken him a bit. Gustav will also be constantly enlarging right up until landfall, and will be quite a monster size-wize. The bottom line here is there is going to be a large major hurricane threat to the northern gulf coast in 3-4 days, and everybody should be prepared.

We shall see what happens!

^Click for loop^


Tropical Storm Hanna 11am EST:

After struggling majorly yesterday, and "taking her clothes off" as Bob put it, Hanna has made an effort and getting re-dressed this morning, and she may be putting on her Sunday best. The COC was briefly exposed earlier this morning, but new convection keeps forming directly over and east of the center, in the face of the ULL to her west, which has finally begun to move as the models forecasted. This ULL is responsible for the westerly shear impinging upon Hanna, and should slowly weaken and move off to the west, allowing Hanna to finally get her act together. Once the ULL is out of the way I think we could see Hanna intensify quite nicely to a Cat 2 or 3 hurricane in 3-4 days. Beyond this point the intensity will largely depend on a trough dropping off the east coast that may inflict strong westerly shear again over Hanna, in possible combination with Gustav's outflow channel.

The other interesting thing is the southerly flow on the back side of this trough and Gustav's outflow are going to end up squashing Hanna southward, stopping her NW progress in 4 days. The models are greatly diverged here as well, and it is really way too far out to think about where Hanna may make landfall. Right now I think the Bahamas will get a battering from a slow-moving Hanna, but it is still unclear how strong she may be at that time. Beyond that Hanna may hit Cuba from the north (wow) or turn NW towards the SE coast, or even move across Florida or through the straights and into the GOM for a 2nd hit. This could be a potentially wild situation with 2 serious hurricanes aiming for the US in the same week. It would be the quickest 1-2 punch in recorded history, but it's too soon to say right now. The Bahamas at least right now should be prepared for a hurricane in their ballpark in 4-5 days.

We shall see what happens!

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About Levi32

Masters student in tropical meteorology at FSU. Raised in Alaskan blizzards, but drawn toward tropical cyclones by their superior PGF.

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