01 September 2008

Gustav makes landfall, Hanna and TD9 heading for US coast?...

Another powerful Labor Day hurricane for the record books.  A little sooner than expected, Hurricane Gustav made landfall near Cocodrie LA at about 15Z today, at an intensity of 95kts and 955mb.  You can watch the landfall via the New Orleans radar at http://einstein.atmos.colostate.edu/~mcnoldy/tropics/gustav08/Gustav_01Sep08_LIX.gif

A buoy located roughly 60 miles south of Pascagoula MS reported 34' significant wave heights** (individual waves could have been much higher).  The water there is about 900 feet deep, and the SST was 30.7C yesterday before the storm got there, now it's 27.9C.
Other notable automated observations come from Grand Isle:
and New Canal:

It's too early to know the extent of the damage in southern LA, as the storm is still there.  Levees in New Orleans have already been overtopped, but as of this writing, are still intact.  The next day or so will be the real test as time and pressure wear on... fortunately, the majority of the city is evacuated.  It will now continue to track inland over LA and eastern TX, likely spawning tornadoes and causing major flooding.  Four tornadoes have been reported so far in MS and FL, and flood warnings cover much of LA, MS, FL panhandle, eastern TX, and southern AR.  Without a doubt though, the name Gustav will be retired after this season, with probably ~100 deaths attributed to the storm, and tens of billions of dollars in damage across 4 countries.

TS Hanna is presently crawling (4kts) over the eastern Bahamas, creating flooding problems there.  Latest intensity is 50kts and 994mb.  It will pick up forward speed in a couple days, and then likely intensify to a hurricane as it heads for the southeast US coast on Friday.  Right now, the official forecast places landfall at the GA/SC border, but keep in mind that track errors 4 days out can be significant.  Recent satellite imagery is impressive: a centralized shield of very clod cloud tops (as cold as -85C), perhaps indicating that the jump to hurricane status is nearing.

At 15Z, the disturbance that was near 16N 35W yesterday was upgraded to TD9, and is now at about 18N 40W and tracking W at 14kts.  Intensity is 30kts and 1005mb, and gradual intensification is expected as it heads west.  This could certainly be TS Ike by this evening, and a hurricane by mid-late-week.  In the long term, this could be of great interest to Florida.

And as if the list wasn't long enough already, there's a new very potent easterly wave that has just exited Africa.  It's located at about 12N 20W, and has a 1007mb Low embedded within the wave.  Assuming TD9 takes the name Ike, the next name on the list is Josephine.

Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

**Significant wave height is calculated as the average of the highest one-third of all of the wave heights during the 20-minute sampling period.

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