Hurricane Gustav is actually having a surprisingly difficult time strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico. Gustav has just passed an area of very warm water, so its fuel is becoming slightly more limited. It also is showing less symmetric convection, which is an indication of shear holding back the intensity of the system. The lopsidedness of the storm is comforting as it means Gustav is not as strong as he could be at this time.
Gustav is still a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and a central pressure of 960 mb. His track is also following right along with the computer model and NHC forecasts. The official forecast from NHC looks pretty reliable, calling for landfall as a Cat 3 in southeast Louisiana.
Interestingly, it looks like Gustav will soon clear out an eye again. Convection has wrapped mostly around the center and further intensification seems probable at this point. Microwave satellite imagery is doing a fine job of showing this partial eyewall and asymmetric convection.
The model guidance is showing a surprising amount of spread regarding landfall tracks and intensity estimates remain a joke at this time. Forecasting storm intensity very much resembles "throwing darts." However, thus far the GFDL has done a very good job forecasting the storm and remains my model of choice. Confidence in the intensity 'remains low.'
To see all the models and charts for Hurricane Gustav, check out the Gustav charts page.
Because of Hurricane Gustav, Senator McCain announced Sunday that activities at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN have been suspended except for "necessary business." McCain called on party members to "take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats."
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Hanna is still slowly moving toward the Bahamas. Fortunately for us, she is not expected to be a real threat for another few days. Her satellite signature remains asymmetric, ragged, and relatively disorganized.
Hanna currently is packing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, but for the next couple of days we are going to focus on Gustav. However, if you have interests along the Southeast coast late this week, please keep a close eye on Hanna. We could be dealing with another landfalling U.S. hurricane by Friday.
To see all the models and charts for Tropical Storm Hanna, check out the Hanna charts page.