Gustav And Hanna Sunday Midday

Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna continue to churn in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo courtesy NOAA

Gustav weakened crossing Cuba late Saturday and has been unable to regain strength despite passing over very warm waters in the Gulf. Higher altitude winds may be partly to blame. At 11:00am EDT Sunday, Gustav’s winds were reported to be 120 mph, making the storm a category 3 hurricane. The storm is moving to the northwest, away from the warmest waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

An ensemble of computer models seems to indicate that Gustav’s winds could remain stable or may strengthen slightly. The official Hurricane Center forecast builds winds to 130-135 mph as the storm nears the north Gulf coast. This would put the storm right on the dividing line between a category 3 and category 4 hurricane.

“Plot provided courtesy of Jonathan Vigh, Colorado State University. For more information about this graphic, click here.” 

Computer model track ensembles are pretty unanimous in taking Gustav to around the Louisiana coast on Monday. After that the models diverge on the storm’s track.

“Plot provided courtesy of Jonathan Vigh, Colorado State University. For more information about this graphic, click here.” 

The final outcome of Gustav’s track and intensity are far from certain but it is evident that the storm has the potential to be very destructive to areas along the north Gulf coast.

Below is an updated, color enhanced close up satellite picture of Gustav, courtesy of StormCenter Communications.

The above image was taken by the GOES-East satellite at 12:33 pm CDT (17:33 UTC) on August 31, 2008.  It shows Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf of Mexico bearing down on the southern coast of the United States.

Tropical Storm Hanna is working its’ way toward the Bahamas. At 11:00am EDT Hanna’s winds were reported at 50 mph. Computer model ensembles lean toward a track that would take the storm close to the U.S. Atlantic coast by the end of the week but there is considerable disagreement as to a precise location.

“Plot provided courtesy of Jonathan Vigh, Colorado State University. For more information about this graphic, click here.” 

Computer model ensembles for Hanna’s intensity indicate the storm could likely reach category 1 hurricane strength by the end of the week.

“Plot provided courtesy of Jonathan Vigh, Colorado State University. For more information about this graphic, click here.” 

Once again though, computer models can contain many errors regarding track and intensity and the precise outcome of this storm is far from certain. Assuming the storm does get close to the Mid Atlantic region, we could receive some much needed rainfall by the end of the week or next weekend. August will end in Baltimore with a 2.26 inch deficit in precipitation and lawns, gardens and crops are beginning to show the effects.

Below is a chart from the morning run of the  of the National Weather Service “GFS” computer model. The chart depicts surface pressure and precipitation for Friday morning.

The bulls-eye on the east coast represents the remnant of Hanna moving into the Baltimore/Washington area. The model indicates that Hanna would still be a well defined storm, possibly a tropical depression strength. The rainfall would be welcome. Remember, this is but one of a number of computer models and does not necessarily reflect what will ultimately happen.

For the latest on the progress of Gustav and Hanna check our Hurricane Tracker at http://www.wbaltv.com/hurricanes/index.html

John Collins

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