Just to prove that nature still has the upper hand, Claudette went against all forecasts yesterday and weakened dramatically in the afternoon. The MSLP rose 15mb in just a few hours and it appeared that shear would be victorious over the tropical storm. Early Friday morning, she passed very near Cozumel, Mexico and crossed over the extreme northeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Her appearance has changed from banded to more "blobby" (i.e., a classic CDO... with cloud top temps nearly -80C). This new structure should prove beneficial to her development, because the outflow has become more symmetric and all the latent heating and spinning up of vorticity is occuring where it needs to. Furthermore, the Gulf is amply warm and the environmental winds are such that vertical wind shear will be low. At 15Z today, TS Claudette was located at 21.6N 87.4W and heading NW at 12kts. Maximum sustained winds are 50kts and the MSLP is 1008mb, but gradual intensification is expected as she slowly traverses the Gulf over the next few days. Tropical Storm Warnings are still in effect for the northern Yucatan Peninsula. The forecast track has changed little since yesterday, with the northern Mexican coast up to the central TX coast being the most likely landfall target area on Tuesday. Hurricane Watches may be issued for these areas later in the weekend.
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