25 August 2005

Katrina bearing down on FL, nearly a hurricane...

The storm has gradually intensified and slowed down, now moving west at 
just 5kts, with further slowing expected prior to landfall.  That should 
put the eyewall ashore around 10pm EDT, probably at or near Fort 
Lauderdale, FL (it would be their first direct hit since 1964).  It's 
crossing over the Florida Current, a channel in the ocean floor with a 
constant re-supply of warm water (30.5C+).  Based on experience and some 
objective models, there still exists a decent chance of rapid 
intensification in the next few hours before the eyewall hits land.  A 
competing factor seems to be some dry air on the north and west sides 
of the storm.

A buoy just east of Cape Canaveral is now reporting 9ft waves, and 
growing rapidly (their normal non-storm wave height is about 1.5ft).  
The core is still far enough from land (40 miles or so) that the strong 
winds have not reached Fort Lauderdale as of this writing... they are 
currently reporting sustained winds of 15kts, gusting to 25kts.  At 16Z 
today, TS Katrina was located at 26.2N 79.4W and tracking W at 5kts.  
It is being monitored constantly by aircraft and by ground-based radar, 
and the latest intensity is 55kts and 990mb (fell 7mb in 2 hours).  A 
Hurricane Warning is in effect for all of the southeastern FL peninsula, 
and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Keys and the 
southwestern FL peninsula.  I suspect the central FL panhandle will have 
a hurricane watch issued later today or early tomorrow for them.

Another interesting question is, what happens after tonight's landfall?  
Although there is rather large divergence among model forecasts, the NHC 
shows the storm crossing westward over the peninsula, exiting into the 
Gulf, then recurving to the north and hitting the central FL panhandle 
early Monday morning as a hurricane.  Again, there is the chance it 
could be rather intense if it has the time.
Please visit my tropical Atlantic headquarters.

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