Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav now a strengthening Category 4 in the Gulf

Hurricane Gustav reached category 4 intensity this afternoon - with maximum sustained winds of 150mph - only 5mph below category 5, just before making 2 landfalls in Cuba - the first on the Isle of Youth, and the second in Pinar del Rio province. By most accounts, parts of the Isle of Youth have been devastated. Gustav now sits just off the north coast of Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico, and remains a Category 4 hurricane. The passage over Cuba did not weaken Gustav much, and as of 2am, Gustav is only 10mb or so weaker than its peak intensity of earlier today. Gustav should reach category 5 strength by this afternoon.

The forecast for Gustav has changed (worsened) slightly. Due to the much stronger than expected strengthening before the Cuba landfalls, and a slightly faster than expected forward speed - Gustav is now forecasted to make landfall as a Category 4 storm on Monday - 6 to 12 hours ahead of previous forecasts. Landfall still looks to be somewhere between Morgan City and Houma - with the worst impact to the east - an area that includes metro New Orleans.

Latest computer models showing close agreement on landfall location

A direct hit over Houma would be the worst case scenario. Parts of the New Orleans metro - especially the West Bank - would experience conditions worse than Katrina (including 15-25ft storm surge), and many places west of New Orleans - including Baton Rouge - would (and likely, will) experience MUCH worse conditions than Katrina (including sustained winds up to 100mph in B.R.). Houma could be devastated. Right now, a scenario similar to this seems likely.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for much of southern and southeast Louisiana. In total, 15 Parishes, including Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Tammany parishes have all ordered mandatory evacuations. In Orleans parish, the buses will STOP evacuations at noon tomorrow (Sunday). BE ON THAT BUS if you are still in New Orleans.

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