08 July 2005

Dennis halfway across Cuba...

At about 18Z today, Category 4 Dennis made landfall on Cuba, near 
Cienfuegos.  At 22Z, the center was about halfway across the island, 
and still at 115kts, so the low terrain is having little effect on 
weakening the storm.  Wind gusts to 130kts (150mph) have been reported 
on Cuba, and preliminary reports also indicate a nearly total power and 
communication failure on the island.  I suspect that upon exiting Cuba 
later tonight, the winds will have dropped by about 15-20kts, but that 
should be regained once over the bathtub-like Gulf of Mexico.

At 21Z today, the center of Hurricane Dennis was at 22.6N 81.1W and 
tracking NW at 15kts.  The maximum sustained winds are still 115kts and 
the MSLP is up a little to 949mb.  This is the strongest hurricane ever 
to form in the Atlantic so early in the season.

You'll be able to track the progress and location of the storm via radar 
at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/radar/latest/DS.p20-r/si.kbyx.shtml.  It will 
get VERY close to Key West early tomorrow, perhaps even hitting it with 
the eastern eyewall.  A Hurricane Watch is now in effect for the 
northern Gulf coast, from MS over through AL, and all of the FL 
panhandle.  The most likely solution for direct landfall is still near 
Pensacola, FL as a very powerful CAT 3 or 4 hurricane on Sunday 
Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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