Major Hurricane Gustav is closing in on Category 5 status very quickly, raking Cuba and giving Key West quite a blustery time in the process. As of the 5 PM advisory, Gustav’s packing 150 MPH sustained winds, making it an intense Category 4, and is moving to the northwest at 15 MPH. This puts the storm somewhere along the Gulf Coast roughly Monday night. Model guidance agrees well on Gustav’s track at this point; it’s now a matter of wobbles — five miles east or west could change the prognosis for New Orleans, Houston, Biloxi, and other cities along the coast pretty substantially. As it stands, New Orleans may see sustained hurricane force winds on the eastern side of the storm, which is where the worst storm surge will occur. However, a lot can change between now and Monday.
Update: Here’s a map of the official NHC forecast track along with the spaghetti models to demonstrate variability in the landfall locations. Models look roughly at the Texas/Louisiana border all the way to right next to New Orleans, which is a disastrous scenario if that’s the one that comes to pass.
How I’m Following Gustav
Social media has mobilized throughout the day for getting the word out about Gustav. Twitter is figuring heavily into the mix, as one might expect: I’m following Mark Mayhew, who’s on the ground in New Orleans, as well as The Interdictor Project, one of the several aggregators of information about Gustav being made available this afternoon. (Interdictor may sound familiar to those who followed the Interdictor LiveJournal during Katrina; it was one of the best blogs that was actually on the ground through the duration of the storm.) I’ve also begun following Vanessa (aka iThinkMedia), who’s on the ground in Alexandra, LA, and James Wheeler, who lists his location as the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You can get the big picture using this Twitter search. A centralized Gustav Ning site has been set up for disseminating information and also for coordinate efforts to help folks who may be displaced by the storm. Finally, for you FriendFeeders out there, Wayne Sutton is compiling a list of resources for following Gustav.
Gustav is captivating me not just because of the obvious meteorological aspect, but also how folks are mobilizing so quickly using social media tools to disseminate information. This will be quite a study in social media’s maturity, and it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out.