Friday, August 29, 2008

Gustav - Friday/Saturday overnight update

Gustav has been upgraded again to hurricane status - which it should hold from now until it moves inland over the gulf coast next week. An eye is also starting to reappear, though currently the structure is very complex - concentric eyewalls with the strongest winds about 50 miles from the center in the outer eyewall. In short, Gustav is steadily growing in size, organization, and intensity. Judging by the satellite appearance, it appears that rapid intensification to a major hurricane could occur at any time. Don't be surprised to wake up tomorrow to a category 3 (or greater).

To reiterate, my forecast remains the same: Gustav should make landfall on Tuesday as a major category 3 hurricane somewhere in central Louisiana. The past two days of Gustav's progression and consistent model runs have helped to increase my confidence in this forecast, and I'm tempted to narrow the likely landfall area slightly to Lake Charles to Houma. The worst effects will be felt to the east of the landfall location.

For those in New Orleans - remember, the right front quadrant of storm is the most intense (think coastal Mississippi in Katrina), and the combination of the landfall location (about 50 mi to the west) and the angle of approach (from the SE) is nearing a worst-case scenario for the New Orleans area. Storm surge could be in excess of 15-20 feet. Meteorologically, this storm could (could!) be worse than Katrina for New Orleans. Now I'm a weather man, not a levee expert, so I only know as much as you do how well N.O. might be prepared to handle a potentially bigger surge than Katrina. But if I was still in New Orleans, I'd be making plans to leave, soon.

Gustav (L) and Hanna (R) on a night vis satellite image Friday night.

My forecast, like the NHC, hasn't changed for awhile. Which means, it's becoming more and more likely by the hour that central Louisiana will feel the brunt of this storm - probably as a major hurricane. One thing I'd like to point out that, as with Katrina, Gustav will very likely also be a LARGE storm in size. Which means that severe effects will be felt well away from the center. Upwards of 200-300 miles away or more. Mississippi, Alabama, and even the Florida panhandle should prepare as if a Category one hurricane will be making landfall. Surge, wind, and rain, will likely impact the entire Gulf Coast. Also - keep in mind it is Labor Day weekend. People as far away as the west coast of Florida and the Keys will be experiencing increased surf and rip currents on Monday at the beach. Don't be complacent just because you're not in the cone.

On this 3-year anniversary of Katrina, we should all take a moment to remember how lucky/thankful/fortunate we are to have our lives - and know how precious each day is. In a very real way. Life is why we're here, folks, to love, to be happy, to share this happiness with each other. Please be safe, make wise decisions this weekend. Remember, you can always get new stuff, a new house (or maybe you can't) but, you can't get a new life.

I'm writing from Kansas, and Meg is on the road right now heading north and east out of Louisiana with Pepper and her co-worker and good friend Valerie, from Unity. Meg and Valerie spent the latter part of the week securing housing and assisting with evacuation plans for over 100 homeless New Orleanians with mental or physical handicaps - most still homeless from Katrina. I'm so proud of the work they do.

8 comments:

ridge said...

I have to say I am finding your updates very informational. I really appreciate your efforts. You did answer one question for me, as we just moved to Long Beach, MS and that was..what to expect wind-wise here.

I also want to say THANK YOU to your wife and all that helped find places for others less fortunate. She, and others like her are the real HEROES in my humble opinion!!

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