26 August 2005

Katrina slams southern FL and intensifying...

At about 23Z yesterday, Katrina made landfall as a CAT1 hurricane on 
North Miami Beach, FL.  The storm was highly asymmetric, and nearly all 
of the rainfall occurred on the south side, quite extreme in some 
places.  Wind gusts to nearly 85kts were observed at several places, and 
radar-estimated rainfall totals in southern FL are 10-20" along the 
south side of the track.  So far, this hurricane has killed 4 people, 
and left 5 missing at sea.

The hurricane barely noticed that it was over land, since the land is 
flat and mostly swampy.  Then, a peculiar turn to the southwest allowed 
the storm to spend just 7 hours over the peninsula before exiting into 
the Gulf.  It responded well to the transition and is now strengthening 
very quickly.  The pressure at first landfall was 985mb, and shortly 
after landfall was 971mb (usually is the other way around!).  Conditions 
over the Gulf are ideal for rapid intensification -- the SSTs will 
remain above 30C and the northerly shear that has been affecting it is 
expected to relax.

At 15Z today, the center of Hurricane Katrina was located at 25.1N 82.2W 
and crawling W at 6kts.  Intensity measured by aircraft is 85kts and 
971mb, making it a CAT2 storm.  The forecast is for continued 
strengthening, reaching at least CAT3 by the end of the weekend, and 
then hitting the FL panhandle (perhaps between Pensacola and Panama 
City) on Monday morning.  Ahh, the Sunshine State...

Elsewhere, the same circulation and area of disturbed weather I've 
mentioned lately in the deep tropics east of the Lesser Antilles 
struggles to get organized (it exited Africa on Aug 19).  It still has 
persistent deep convection, but it is still well separated from the 
low-level center.  It's located at about 20N 46W.
Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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