At 00Z today, Dennis was upgraded to 115kts, making it a CAT4 hurricane. Since then, it had leveled off at 115kts as it scrapes the southern Cuba coast. It nipped Cabo Cruz, Cuba last night as a CAT4. At 15Z this morning, it was upgraded further to 130kts and 938mb based on aircraft recon data. In the past 24 hours, the central pressure has fallen 30mb and the winds have increased by 40kts. The latest position is 21.4N 79.9W and motion is NW at 13kts. It is only 6kts from being the first Atlantic July CAT5 in recorded history. Hurricane Warnings are in place for most of Cuba and the Florida Keys, and the northern Gulf coast is still very much in danger of a major landfall late Sunday into early Monday. As the time draws near and the track forecast errors are slimmed down, the strip between New Orleans and Apalachicola still looks like the target, with even higher likelihood between Mobile and Pensacola. If you're in these areas, you should certainly be moving along with plans to evacuate and protect your house (a Hurricane Watch should be issued later today for you). Likewise in the Florida Keys... although you may not experience a direct hit, the eyewall or near-eyewall could reach that area Saturday morning and cause significant damage. The forecast takes Dennis over western Cuba as a CAT4, weakening a bit as it crosses the island, then reintensifying as it makes its way across the Gulf toward the US. This has the potential to hit the same area that Ivan hit last year, but perhaps even stronger. As an aside, the NTC (Net Tropical Cyclone activity) for 2005 is already 24.1%. According to Phil Klotzbach here at CSU, this is only behind the seasons of 1996 (28.9%) and 1966 (42.6%) for June-July activity. So although this season is freakishly active so early, it is not unprecedented.Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.
08 July 2005
Dennis strengthens to Category 4...
Posted by at 11:30 AM