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Friday, August 17, 2007

Hurricane Dean is heading for Jamaica and growing strong

Strength UPDATE: This afternoon, Dean was at a Cat 2 with winds at 105 mph. By the tie I left the plant we were seeing winds of 125 for a solid Cat 3. Now, 2 hours later Dean is up to Category 4 strength with 135 MPH and barometric pressure of 946 mb.
DEAN IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST OR 280 DEGREES AT 18 KNOTS. THE
STEERING PATTERN CONTINUES TO BE CONTROLLED BY THE HIGH PRESSURE
SYSTEM TO THE NORTH OF THE HURRICANE AND THE MID TO UPPER-LEVEL LOW
OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN ATLANTIC AND FLORIDA. THIS LOW IS FORECAST
TO WEAKEN AND MOVE WESTWARD AND BE REPLACED BY A RIDGE. THIS
PATTERN WOULD MAINTAIN DEAN OVER THE CARIBBEAN ON A GENERAL
WESTWARD TRACK ACROSS NORTHERN YUCATAN AND THE WESTERN GULF OF
MEXICO. THE GFDL SHOWS A MORE NORTHWESTERLY TRACK ACROSS EXTREME
WESTERN CUBA AND THE CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO. WHILE THIS SOLUTION IS
OUTSIDE THE OVERALL MODEL GUIDANCE ENVELOPE...IT CAN NOT BE RULE
OUT COMPLETELY SINCE THIS MODEL HAS AN EXCELLENT FORECAST TRACK
HISTORY. THE OFFICIAL TRACK FORECAST IS AN UPDATE OF THE PREVIOUS
ONE AND FOLLOWS THE MODEL CONSENSUS.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT DEAN IS EXPECTED TO BE A DANGEROUS HURRICANE
THROUGH THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS...AND ALL INTERESTS IN THE CARIBBEAN
SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF
DEAN.

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Hurricane Dean has been steadily growing since it formed off the African coast early this week. Now at a Category 3, Dean is now a major hurricane. All forecasts show a direct hit on the Island of Jamaica and then crossing the Yucatan into the Gulf.

As we've watched this storm develop, the forecast track and the cone of uncertainty has slowly moved to the north. Earlier in the week, the likely path took Dean across the widest part of the Yucatan and across the Bay of Campeche into northern Mexico. Now the path has the storm just grazing the NE corner of the peninsula and the final landfall stretches from northern Mexico to across much of the Texas coast.

I'll be updating this as the storm gets closer but it looks to me like this is Rita 2 - the sequel.



I have a bad feeling about this storm. The gulf waters are hot (85 - 90F) so Dean should strengthen once it enters the gulf. Sea surface temperature is one factor that influences storm intensity. Wind shear is another key factor which if favorable could help Dean to strengthen.

Directionally, the path of the storm is changing in a rather interesting way. The high pressure that brought us the 100 degree weather in Houston early this week has move east. The clockwise convection around the high will create winds out of the south on in the TX/LA area. Add to that the counter clockwise rotation of the remnants of Erin which will also create winds out of the south. These two pressure systems combined provide a powerful conveyor to suck this storm into the upper Texas coast.

When I first wrote this post this morning, three of the models were predicting tracks that brought Dean close to Houston. Now, while most of the predictions are still pointing towards northern Mexico, the three northern most predictions are shifting further east with one heading toward Houston and the other 2 heading into Louisiana.

A lot can happen between now and next weekend. Predictions by professionals this far out are very inaccurate. I'm just a hobbyist so maybe I'm wrong. I hope so but I'm making my plans now.


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