The predicted storm path is taking Gustav directly into the same area that was so heavily affected by Katrina and Rita. The track puts the highest probability of landfall between Houston and New Orleans. Gustav's current forward speed is only 7 MPH. A slow moving storm has more of a chance to strengthen by increasing the time that the storm stays in the warm waters compared to a faster moving storm.
Gustav is going to strengthen into a major hurricane, and it will reach the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. Before it reaches the Gulf, it is going to cause some pretty harsh weather through the Caribbean. During the next 72 hours, the center of the storm will be tracking close to Cuba, Jamaica, the Caymans and the northern
Yucatan. All these places will experience high winds and heavy rain though none
of them may be hit directly.
A stronger storm is a certainty. Wind shear, which commonly weakens tropical systems, is non-existent where the storm is gathering forces. In other words, there are no mid-latitude winds that would directly oppose the storm's circulation. Furthermore, Gustav will be tracking over the warm Caribbean which is a storehouse of energy. In the end, it is the heat extracted from the ocean that drives the powerful winds of a storm like this.
After Sunday, the track of the storm becomes increasingly uncertain, and landfall early next week could be anywhere between Brownsville, Texas, and Mobile, Ala.
Story by AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet.
In anticipation of Gustav's landing, Louisiana has already delcared a state of emergency activating 3,000 NAtional Guard Troops. Evacuation plans are already being made in the event that evacuations are necessary early next week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal declares pre-storm state of emergency (NOLA Times Picayune)
New Orleans officials began planning a possible mandatory evacuation (KHOU)
Galveston officials keeping eye on Gustav (KHOU)
Still haunted by Katrina, New Orleans not taking chances
Days away from the 2005 hurricane's anniversary, city may evacuate ahead of Gustav (Houston Chronicle)