Gustav pounds NOLA; Hanna strengthens

Morning folks. It’s an unhappy Labor Day for the Louisiana Gulf Coast, as hurricane-force winds from Hurricane Gustav are coming ashore. New Orleans is, as of this writing, just entering the worst of it, as depicted by the radar image below.

New Orleans begins to get the worst

It appears there’s still Internet access down there. Mark Mayhew, in particular, is tweeting up a storm; I suspect we’ll hear more from folks on the ground, they’re just trying to get a little sleep. Here’s hoping those who stayed — not many, according to officials — are able to safely ride out the storm.

Hanna gains some strength, may be reorganizing

Tropical Storm Hanna’s regained a little strength and is up to 50 MPH this morning, and according to the NHC forecast discussion, it could actually be stronger depending on the center position, which has been hard to pinpoint thanks to lots and lots of shear still over the system. It’s drifting westward at 2 MPH toward the Bahamas, which have tropical storm warnings raised.

So where’s this going to go? It’s still touch and go. Here’s the official forecast:

Tropical Storm Hanna - Projected Path

The forecast still takes the storm in at the mouth of the Savannah River; however, the cone of uncertainty is still several hundred miles wide. According to the 5am NHC forecast discussion, Hanna’s size has a lot of bearing on where it goes. Here are the model plots bearing out a number of scenarios:

Tropical Storm Hanna - 6am 9/01 Forecast Models

One area of agreement, finally, is that the storm will indeed take up a northwesterly track toward the southeastern U.S. coast. From there, it all breaks loose; the solutions run the gamut from coming ashore in Florida and riding up the coast to recurving out to sea harmlessly. GFDL, one of the tropically-oriented models, is in favor of a landfall just south of Savannah; HWRF, another tropically-oriented model, takes it into Georgetown.

The variability is just a reminder for all southeast coast residents to keep an eye on things as the week goes on. It’s still too early to tell where this thing is going to hit and who’s going to feel what.