11 September 2004

Ivan now past Jamaica, heading for Cayman Islands...

Around midnight local time last night, very powerful Ivan approached the Jamaican coast, and miraculously turned to the west, keeping the eyewall JUST offshore.  After passing the island, it resumed its WNW course.  So although I'm sure the destruction due to flooding and some high winds on Jamaica will be hefty (7 deaths already reported there), they really got incredibly lucky.  On the flip side, this also allowed Ivan to continuously intensify, since the inner core remained over extremely warm water.  My preliminary count has the death toll at already about 40 people, from Grenada, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Jamaica.

At 21Z today, it was upgraded its strongest intensity yet based on aircraft recon.  It's at 145kts and 914mb... one of the stronger hurricanes to ever exist in the Atlantic, and still strengthening perhaps.  It is forecast to hit western Cuba as a CAT5 early Monday morning.  First though, it looks like it will pass directly over Grand Cayman early Sunday morning, also as a CAT5.  Present location is about 140 miles ESE of Grand Cayman, and heading WNW at 8kts.

Although the current forecast track takes it into the central FL panhandle early Wednesday, I personally believe it's simply too early to pinpoint a location... there are some uncertain variables that make this too questionable so far out.  Anyone on the panhandle, western peninsula, and the Keys should be preparing for this.  Also of great importance is the trough that's steering it northward will also weaken it a bit before it hits the US due to increasing vertical wind shear.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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