The eyewall of the storm avoided Jamaica, and is passing just to the north of the island, and also just south of Cuba. It could hit the southeast Cuba coast later tonight. The intensity as of 21Z today was increased to 100kts and 957mb, making Dennis the first major hurricane of the year ("major" being defined as CAT3+). Hurricane Warnings are now in effect for almost all of Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Florida Keys. The forecast is for further strengthening in the northern Caribbean (perhaps reaching CAT4 intensity), then some weakening as it passes over Cuba, then strenghtening again once back over the Gulf of Mexico. US landfall is still expected late Sunday into early Monday as a CAT 2-3 hurricane, somewhere in the stretch between New Orleans to Apalachicola. Coastal locations in that stretch should be preparing now for a major hurricane landfall within 84 hours. Although seeming unlikely right now, IF the track deviates just slightly to the east of the forecast, all of the western FL peninsula will be threatened with a direct landfall. For some interesting trivia... a major hurricane making US landfall in July is not unprecedented. It happened three times since record-keeping began: in 1909, 1916, and 1936. Perhaps 2005 will be added to the short list by the end of the weekend.Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.
07 July 2005
Dennis now a Category 3 hurricane...
Posted by at 5:49 PM