Gustav continues to plow to NOLA; Hanna struggles

Before I hit the sack, I wanted to bring folks up to speed about my latest thoughts on Gustav and Hanna. First, Gustav.

Eyewall Replacement Cycle?

Gustav emerged off the coast of Cuba at roughly 11:30 or so and promptly started trying to get its act back together. It looks like it’s in the middle of an eyewall replacement cycle, which basically means it’s reorganizing a bit at the core and should be ready to start strengthening again. Cuba knocked it down to a 140 MPH system, which is still nothing to sneeze at. I suspect we’ll wake up to Gustav as a Category 5 tomorrow morning.

Official Track and Computer Models, 11PM

The official track takes the center of the storm roughly 50 miles or so west of New Orleans, which is likely to cause tremendous problems not only for the city itself, but for a fairly wide swath of real estate, as the current scenario could push surge up the Mississippi. It’s a matter of wobbles — again, as I’ve said before, five miles to the east or west could be a world of difference. The computer models continue to show a cone of uncertainty stretching roughly from the LA-MS border to the LA-TX border. The track has continued to go eastward as Gustav wobbled right several times during the day. The landfall point is still very uncertain, and we probably won’t really know where it will end up until the hours immediately leading up to the point of landfall.

The good news is that New Orleans is being evacuated. Here’s hoping they can get everybody out this time — I have a bad feeling that because of the position of the center, this could be worse for NOLA. We’ll see what the next day bears out.

Hanna’s future becoming a smidgen clearer…maybe

Hanna’s still struggling in the face of wind shear and some interference from Gustav. It’s hanging in there at 50 MPH, as it has for much of the day. The wind shear is expected to back off just enough to let it strengthen a bit more, but the NHC discussion forecasts the shear to return Tuesday, which should inhibit development.

Model runs on Hanna run the gamut from a landfall at the Florida/Georgia border (NGP) to a brushing of the Outer Banks and eventual recurvature to sea (GFS). I’m seeing some consensus between the GFDL and HWRF models, specifically designed for forecasting tropical cyclones, in a scenario bringing the center onshore in South Carolina; likely somewhere like Bulls Bay, Georgetown, or Myrtle Beach. However, two models does not a forecast make. Keep in mind it’s still very early — a week away — and that there is still plenty of divergence in the other atmospheric models. The GFDL is being weird about Hanna, too, somehow developing it into a Category 3 despite forecasted moderate wind shear.

As always, it behooves anybody from Florida to North Carolina to keep a close eye to Hanna as it meanders around in the Atlantic. I suspect Hanna is going to become quite a thorn in our side as the week progresses.