Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

A single source reference on tropical weather predictions. With a traditional focus on the upper Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast we've maintained links to track all Atlantic Basin, Caribbean and eastern Pacific storm systems. We are now expanding our view to tropical storms throughout the world intending to be a comprehensive global storm tracking resource.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Galveston and Houston need to prepare for Gustav

Both Louisiana and Texas have declared states of emergency. Louisiana has activated 3,000 National Guard troops and placed an additional 2,000 on stand-by. Texas has 5,000 troops on stand-by. Current news reports discuss the preparations by New Orleans, the plans to evacuate New Orleans and whether the levees are repaired to the point of being able to handle another category 3 storm.

Houston and Galveston must also prepare and be ready to evacuate, probably by the beginning of next week. A look at the 5-Day storm track from the National Hurricane Center shows a jog to the west in the cone of uncertainty as Gustav approaches landfall on the northern Gulf Coast.

This western jog is due to the potential that a high pressure system may develop and move south within the continental US. Currently weather reports from The Weather Channel, CNN and Fox News are all discussing the possibility that if this high pressure is in the right place as Gustav approaches, it will act to slow down the forward speed of the hurricane thereby delaying the storm's arrival.

Additionally, as the storm slows, if the shearing winds aloft remain calm or reasonably low, then the ability for Gustav to intensify increases. This creates a scenario that could allow Gustav to grow to a Cat 4 or even 5 level storm before coming ashore.

Another issue that has been implied but not explicitly stated is that if the high pressure system does present itself as a blocking force to prevent or slow Gustav from coming ashore in Louisiana, the steering winds will be set up to drive Gustav to the west. High pressure systems have a clockwise wind current around them in the northern hemisphere. This circulation will steer Gustav further west and could drive this storm right into the Texas coast at or west of Galveston.

The assessment in italics is my personal assessment of the conditions I am seeing now. I do not have access to the sophisticated computer analysis that the experts have nor the level of education. The potential for a turn to the west is obvious to me and Texas better be prepared. Houston and Galveston need to be prepared to evacuate within the next few days. The plans have been laid to prevent another Rita gridlock, now is the time to put them into action.

Looking at the computer models, landfall is evenly split between New Orleans, LA and Freeport/Galveston, TX.
As Governor Jindal of Louisiana said the other day, "we need to pray for the best and prepare for the worst."

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