Wednesday evening, Claudette was strongly sheared by the TUTT to her west... it also restricted outflow and exposed the low-level circulation. However, as the TUTT moved over the Yucatan Peninsula, it filled and weakened slightly, allowing the tropical storm to "breathe" much better. In rapid response to this, Claudette's MSLP dropped 11mb in 9 hours and maximum sustained winds increased 10kts in that same time. She is also over the western Caribbean Sea, which has a large heat content (very warm SST to a substantial depth). As of 18Z, TS Claudette was located at 18.3N 83.6W and tracking WNW at 12kts. Intensity is 60kts and 993mb, with rather large fluctuations found by aircraft, so the wind and pressure values are somewhat ephemeral it seems. A large-scale flight is planned for later today to probe the Gulf of Mexico and gather a lot of data about the dynamic and thermodynamic environment so the computer models can be initialized very accurately. (that's no guarantee the output will be "correct", but it's better than starting with garbage!) Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the Cayman Islands, northern Belize, and the northern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. She is expected to hit the Yucatan as a strong CAT1 hurricane late Thursday night, then weaken slightly as she crosses the Yucatan on Friday, then enter the Gulf, where conditions should be favorable for re-development. Right now, it appears that the northern Mexican coast to central TX coast is the favored location for second landfall on Tuesday. Gulf coast residents should be watching Claudette very closely.
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