Gustav, Hanna, 97L, Fay, Katrina, & What's to come

By: wxgeek723 , 11:02 PM GMT on August 29, 2008

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A little later than I had planned, but my entries weren't posting. It looks like the tropics are the main weather story today so let's get right to it.

Hurricane Gustav
Well, Gustav became a hurricane after the NHC issued its 18Z Intermediate advisory, so it was forced to issue a Tropical Cyclone Update which confirmed my suspicions, that Gustav had reached hurricane intensity. As of the NHC's 5PM EDT/21Z advisory, Gustav was located at 19.2N 79.7W. It is moving NW at 12 mph (10 kts). The maximum sustained winds are estimated at 75 mph (65 kts, 120 km/h). This makes it a minimal category 1 on the SSHS. The pressure has decreased to 980 MB, which is the pressure of a strong category 1, so I would not be surprised to see a very strong category 1 at the 8PM advisory. Gustav's wind field has significantly increased, as TS winds expanded 45 miles from the center at the 2AM EDT/06Z Intermediate Advisory to 140 miles in the 5AM EDT/09Z advisory. Hurricane winds extend 30 miles from the center. Gustav's organization has also significantly improved, with an eye occasionally visible on satellite images. I would not be surprised to go to sleep with a strong category 1 and wake up to a moderate category 2 or even weak category 3. Also, Cuba needs to prepare for the hurricane. All Gulf Coast residents is Gustav's 'cone of uncertainty' need to keep a close eye on Gustav and prepare for possible evacuations.


A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Cayman Islands, and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar Del Rio, La Habana, and Ciudad de La Habana.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Jamaica and the Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, and Granma.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge, FL to Dry Tortugas, FL.

Figure 1. Hurricane Gustav is seen at 5PM EDT/21Z.

Tropical Storm Hanna
Hanna is looking somewhat more impressive as I write this. The storm's maximum sustained winds are estimated at 50 mph (45 kts, 85 km/h). The pressure remains 1000 MB. Hanna remains a moderate tropical storm, and I agree with the NHC forecast of intensifying into a weak category 1 this weekened. Shear should increase after that, and Hanna should weaken. It may possibly threaten the Bahamas next week. Models all forecast a turn southwestward, than go crazy with Hanna's track after that. We'll see what happens as Hanna moves WNW at 10 mph. The storm is located at 21.8N 63.8W.

Figure 2. Infrared image of Hanna at 21Z.

Tropical Disturbance 97L
The Navy has issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert (TCFA) on Invest 97L. It notes that convection is not yet co-located with the center of circulation, which is closed by the way. However, warm water and low shear are the recipe for tropical cyclone formation. I would not be shocked if this is the beginnings of a long-lived powerful Cape Verde hurricane. The next name on the list is Ike. The models all forecast movement NW, going out to sea.

Figure 3. Infrared of 97L. Note that the cloud tops are not exceptionally cold, and the convection is still somewhat disorganized.

Should Fay be retired?
Well as I write this the skies remain grey in my area as showers, some associated with Fay's remnants, continue to make a depressing day for outdoor activity. A few showers is all that's left of Fay, but it made quite a name for itself. Tropical Storm Allison is the only storm to have its name retired. Should Fay be the second? It did make 4 landfalls in Florida, and 7 total. It also caused noteworthy flooding in Hispaniola and Cuba. However, it is Florida that suffered the worst flooding from its 4 landfalls there. Complicating steering patterns forced Fay to snake around the entire state of Florida for a whole week. It ranks as one of Florida's wettest tropical cyclones on record. It also caused significant flooding in the Southeast US, where the rain was needed. Fay also produced a record count of tornadoes for a tropical storm (hurricanes produce much more). It is up to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in May 2009. Do you think Fay should be retired? You're more than welcome to give a little explanation why. I'll reiterate the question in my next few blogs and determine the results in about a week.

Figure 4. Fay's long and painful track across the Greater Antilles and Florida.

Not a Happy Anniversary
It was a large and powerful storm. At its peak, its winds were about 175 mph, and its pressure 902 MB. It currently ranks as the sixth most intense Atlantic tropical cyclone on record. The storm surge it generated was truly unheardof. Following it, the north central Gulf Coast was obliterated, decimated, devastated, in ruins. Whichever you prefer. It is on the road to recovery, but that road is very long, and Gustav may make it longer. Its name sounded like a beautiful German actress rather than a 400 mile would weapon of destruction. That storm was Katrina. Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana coast on this date 3 years ago. There's also a part that's even more sad than all of this, and it's certain.

It will happen again.

We don't know when, how, or where, but one thing we can say with certainty is another hurricane catastrophe will strike the US. It may happen in Galveston, or Mobile. Tallahassee or Miami. Raliegh or New York City. We know it's going to happen, that's why everybody on the coast from Brownsville to Bangor need to be prepared. The last time my home state (NJ) got a landfall from a hurricane was 105 years ago, during the 1903 Vagabond Hurricane. New Jersey will be struck again someday. Hopefully it isn't Gustav, or any storm to come this year. It may be next year, or the next. It might not be until 2020, but it will happen. I hate to sound so depressing but it's a message residents along the Atlantic coast need to realize: it can happen to you.

My next update will probably be around late Saturday morning unless something very significant happens in the tropics. And, if the pictures didn't show up, don't mind it. I'm still trying to learn how to insert images.

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1. HurricaneGeek
2:16 AM GMT on August 30, 2008
Great blog!
Nicely done. We can hope that 97L just goes out to sea. I live in West Palm, FL
Member Since: May 10, 2007 Posts: 110 Comments: 7039

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About wxgeek723

I'm 18 years old and aspire to become a meteorologist.

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