Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Tropical disturbance growing - likely to become Fay

A tropical low pressure system that has steadily tracked across the Atlantic continues to intensify. Hurricane hunter aircraft has not been able to locate a closed center of circulation at lower altitudes so the system has not yet been classified as a tropical depression. Even so, winds of 35 - 39 MPH and heavy downpours are battering Puerto Rico and Hispaniola this morning.


The storm system is moving to the west northwest at approximately 15 MPH or so. Three factors will have a great influence on just how strong this system gets and how much it develops. On the "positive" side (for the storm - not for us), is that the system is entering into some very warm water in the Caribbean Sea. Sea surface temperatures in the upper 80's will drive intensification. Additionally, the wind shear in this area is very low so there will be no forces from the wind tearing apart the storm as it is trying to increase in strength. Countering this development is the presence of the islands it is currently passing over. The land masses, especially the mountain regions on these islands will prevent significant strengthening for the next 24 hours or so.

Over the weekend, though, this system will be entering the warm Caribbean waters and could become Tropical Storm Fay. It is even possible (I won't say likely yet) that Fay could become a hurricane by next week.

Current storm track predictions show good agreement until the storm gets to Florida. It appears that the more likely path will be for the system to curve to the north and come ashore somewhere along the southeastern coast.

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