04 September 2018

Gordon to hit Gulf coast tonight, Hurricane Florence remains far from land

Tropical Storm Gordon has been picking up steam in the Gulf of Mexico since forming over the Florida Keys on Monday morning.  It is now packing 65mph sustained winds and is expected to become the season's fourth hurricane later today before it makes landfall. It is moving at 15mph toward the west-northwest -- on that trajectory, the center should cross the coastline just before midnight local time. There are a couple active radar loops to monitor Gordon at http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/tropics/radar/

Hurricane warnings, tropical storm warnings, and storm surge warnings plaster the north-central Gulf coast where 4-6 inches of rain is expected along its path and coastal areas in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Mobile area can expect up to a 3-5-foot storm surge (on top of the regular tides).

The previous hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. was Nate last October, and it hit exactly where Gordon will tonight.

And then there's recently-upgraded Hurricane Florence.  Recall that Florence formed on August 31, very quickly after leaving the African coast.  It became the season's third hurricane today.

Fortunately, over the past few days, a westward track that would bring it close to the U.S. by the middle of next week appears less likely. Both the ECMWF and the GFS ensembles now have very few members with tracks that maintain a U.S.-bound course. So it can't be ruled out, but it's unlikely. Bermuda should be paying close attention though.

As is typical for this time of year, Africa is alive with potent easterly waves. Global models indicate that the next two waves could become tropical cyclones this week, and the next couple of names on this year's list are Helene and Isaac.


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