Hurricane Katrina Update 260700Z
At 5 AM EDT, the center of Hurricane Katrina was at 25.3 North 81.5 West, 50 miles north-northeast of Key West Florida and moving to the west at 5 mph. Maximum sustained winds are estimated to be 75 mph and minimum central pressure is an estimated 987 millibars (29.15").
Hurricane Katrina Advisory Number 11
Because of the path it took over Florida, Katrina did not weaken much. The center crossed the coast at about 1:30 AM EDT and entered the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. While doppler radar only indicates winds of 70 mph, the estimates of the three agencies that analyze satellite imagery were a unaminous 75 mph.
Radar indicates that Katrina is moving nearly due west now (heading 260° at 4 knots). Model guidance shifted west and the official track forecast is shifted west-ward accordingly.
"All inidications are that Katrina will be a dangerous hurricane in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico in the next couple of days." Atmospheric conditions are only expected to become more favorable for Katrina. The official forecast (with winds at landfall of 105 mph) is close to the guidance provided by the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme (SHIPS). However, this is conservative given that the GFDL and GFDN models forecast a major hurricane.
Hurricane Katrina Discussion Number 11
Official track forecast
It appears that the flight that was scheduled to go into Katrina this morning was scratched at the time Katrina went ashore under the presumption that she would still be overland at this time. It is not clear when the next mission will be as the operations Plan of the Day does not show a recon flight until late tonight. Hopefully, there is room for improvisation in the plan.
My unofficial watch area continues to extend from Mobile, AL to St Marks, FL with the warning area running from Panama City Beach to Appalachicola. It may be necessary to shift my warning area westward later today (to include Destin/Fort Walton area) but I'll hold it as is for the time being. Inland areas east of Appalachicola are likely to receive more of the effects of Katrina than coastal areas while the reverse is true for areas west of PCB. Motion is a little bit slower than I had anticipated when I laid out my preparation time-table, meaning that time of landfall is more likely to occur Monday morning than on Sunday. To some extent that buys residents a little bit of watching and waiting time, but not much. It still would be prudent to go ahead and start making preliminary preparations today (such as having a full tank of gas in the car). Also it doesn't necessarily hurt to go supply shopping today only to find out that the storm will go in to the east or well to the west of your location. After all, there is still a long ways to go in this hurricane season; the supplies purchased could very well come in handy not much later.
I continue to anticipate a category three storm due to the apparant lack of factors that would inhibit intensification (other than space and time;if Irene gives herself more of both by continuing to push further south and west before turning north, then she could creep into category four status prior to landfall).