It is times like right now that make me appreciate being independent media. Not having any corporate ties allows me freely to cause public panic and incite insurrections. Hey, I just call them as I see them. Yup, and right now I see that NHC seems to be in a state of denial and/or public perception preservation. Chris is throwing us all for a loop and NHC knows it. They are alluding to it in their forecast discussion. NHC is maintaining Chris at 1007 mb with winds of 60 mph. This is based on the most recent aircraft recon and is much lower than satellite estimates. Sometimes da' Nile is not just a river. At least NHC is admitting that the game has changed as there has been a drastic southward shift in 'the cone' and they are no longer calling for Chris to reach hurricane strength. My opinion is that the cone may not have shifted far enough south, and Chris could be becoming a hurricane right now. Puerto Rico should be on the lookout.
Convection is strong and centralized around the center of circulation and outflow looks healthy. There is some northerly shear affecting the storm, but not enough significantly to disrupt development. A quick look at the latest TRMM microwave pass shows curved active convection that looks a lot like a partial eyewall. However, this feature is hard to pinpoint on the radar.
Satellite intensity estimates now place Chris at 987 mb with winds of 65 kts. This would make Chris a hurricane, and represents a significant deviation from the last aircraft recon. Satellite estimates have continued to indicate strengthening despite the hurricane hunters being unable to find these stronger winds. I suspect that Chris may be undergoing a strengthening burst right now but NHC will not jump on board with this idea until the hurricane hunters are able to verify the trend. All along, satellite estimates have been estimating Chris's barometric pressure to be significantly stronger than aircraft reported.
Radar echoes from San Juan show strong convection near the center of circulation. Additionally, the radar indicates a motion toward the WSW and directly at Puerto Rico. Given this motion, I recommend that those in Puerto Rico be ready for a direct hurricane strike. Only a few models have forecast a track like this, but the rest are way off point. My mind keeps playing tricks on me and seeing an eyewall forming. Of course in the way of Yoda, "one pixel does not an eyewall make."
The intensity models generally forecast little to no strengthening of Chris. None bring Chris above a category one hurricane. Of course, none of the models have handled Chris very well, so my confidence in their forecasts remains low. It is worth nothing that the only model that went for a track like we are now seeing was the GFDL, and the GFDL is showing the strongest intensity forecast with Chris as a moderate category 1 hurricane over Hispanola. However, that track was due west and we are now seeing a WSW motion.