Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav now a major hurricane

As of 10am this morning, the hurricane hunter aircraft flying through Gustav found sustained winds of 125mph just south of Cuba - supporting an upgrade to a strong category 3, or major hurricane. Gustav has undergone a period rapid intensification overnight and grow in size. The central pressue has dropped from 988mb to 954mb (a 34mb drop) in 24hrs, and has strengthened from a tropical storm to nearly category 4.

Gustav will cross Cuba today, which shouldn't impact its intensity much if any by this time tomorrow. Right now, Gustav is less than 72 hours from landfall. If you're still in south Louisiana this morning, make plans to leave today.

In the last few hours Gustav has also tracked a bit toward the eastern edge of the forecasted path. It's still too early to say whether this will affect the final US landfall location (my forecast is still for a landfall near or just west of Houma as a Category three sometime early Tuesday), but in the short term it's not good for people in Havana - the largest city in the Caribbean. They do a good job with evacuation and preparation (sending people to sturdy well build schools and hospitals near their homes instead of mass movements of population like in the united states), so I'm not as worried for them as I was for Haiti/Jamaica, but Gustav, throughout its life, has seemed to go out of its way to cause the most pain possible for people in its path. And a major hurricane landfall is never an easy thing.

Another forecast detail that is emerging this morning is that after making US landfall (now in less than 72 hours), Gustav is forecasted to slow its forward speed considerably - bringing an increased risk of flooding to central and interior Louisiana and surrounding areas. As one forecaster said yesterday, if you're in Louisiana right now, the best thing would be to leave the state. Go north, not along the coast, if you can.

This morning, St. Barnard and Plaquemines parishes are under a mandatory evacuation order. Megan said that as she crossed the twin-span this morning heading for Pensacola that she never went below 40mph. So, if you're still in Orleans parish, leaving sooner is better than later. It will only get worse from here. Be calm, but be single minded in your task of saving your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Major Hurricane Gustav

No comments: