Cozumel and Cancun are getting absolutely smashed and will sustain some catastrophic damage. The official landfall point was listed as Cozumel earlier today. Right now I am at a loss for words to express what must be happening in Cancun. Since my last update the radar in Cancun was knocked out. I am amazed it lasted as long as it did. I can't seem to get at the Cuba radar either, so I am relying on satellite and recon data right now. Below is the latest shot that I have saved.
Earlier today Wilma was stronger on the eastern side. I am waiting for more recent data on the wind field.
As of the 2AM EDT advisory, the intensity was maintained to show winds of 135 mph and a pressure of 935 mb as reported by recon. A surface station on Cancun reported a wind gust to 133 mph before all contact was lost. The devastation there must be staggering. Wilma remains a very strong hurricane capable of doing tremendous damage. The center is barely crawling to the north-northwest at 3 mph. With this long of a duration, it's hard to imagine what will be left in Cancun. However, I think Wilma will re-enter the Gulf faster than NHC forecasts.
The visible satellite imagery is very impressive. For a special treat, check out this super hi-res visible shot of Wilma right as she began to make landfall. Below is a more current shot of her over Cozumel.
However, the amazing part is Wilma's new structure. Hurricane Wilma has shaken off the land interactions and formed an incredible double eyewall structure. While I do not expect the inner eyewall to collapse, it is definitely being dominated by the outer wall. Did I mention that the structure of this system is incredible? If you back up the radar image at the top, both eyewalls are evident. To make it really stand out, check out the microwave satellite pass below.
This double eyewall structure actually seems to be stable for now. I do not anticipated an immediate collapse of the inner eyewall. As it stand, the inner eyewall is still 30 nautical miles across. The real sad part behind this is that it will expose Mexico to four passes through an eyewall as each eyewall passes a location twice moving along. For those of you who are interested to see how this developed, and get a better understanding of what is looks like, check out this large microwave loop. It will give you a very good idea of how powerful, well defined, and dominating that outer eyewall really is. As the eyewalls contract, they could easilly allow for reintensification. However, I suspect that landfall will prevent that. Wilma has basically stalled out at this point and I expect to her steadily weaken.
I bet people really want to know where Wilma is going next. Originally I was thinking Tampa. The 12z model runs showed that all the models best forecast Wilma's track so far today were going directly at Tampa. However, the 18z run has shifted many of them back towards Naples. Now that the 00z models are in, they are evenly spread all over the place. In short, it is still too early to pick an exact landfall point.
As Wilma ventures into the Gulf, at least at first she will be over warm water capable of supporting a Category 5 hurricane. The Loop Current is very strong in the southern Gulf at this time. There is much more energy present in the south-central Gulf that is typical of this time of year. However, the warm water becomes limited as you approach the Florida coast and move north. Accordingly, I still suspect that Wilma will be a Category 2 hurricane at her next landfall in Florida.