Eye of the Storm

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Update 261800Z

At 2 PM EDT, the center of Hurricane Katrina was at 24.9 North 82.6 West, 60 miles west of Key west Florida and moving to the west-southwest at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds remain 100 mph and minimum central pressure is down to 969 millibars (28.61").

Hurricane Katrina Intermediate Advisory Number 13A

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Every global model plus the GFDL shifted its track to the west its forecast to the west in its 12Z run. Forecasts are now in a fairly tight cluster between eastern Louisana and Mississippi.

While it is generally unwise to hop onto one run of the models as the gospel, it is meaningful when every model makes the same type of shift.

This definitely shifts the area of concern much further west than I had been figuring. Shreds my forecast track thinking as well as that of the NHC (although, of course they were more conservative than me and had eastern Louisana at the edge of the zone of uncertainty in their 11 AM forecast).

I had a clue that my thinking was bad right after the 11AM update, when I had the novel idea of looking at storm history (sarcasm here, as this is something fundamental that I should have been doing all along).

Storms that go through south Florida on the type of path that Katrina has taken just don't make sharp turns into the Panhandle. The ones that go through the Keys to hit the Panhandle were on a northwesterly type course to begin with.

Hurricane #6 of 1935, which featured an erratic track to begin with, is the only example in storm history of a sharp turn from the sort of path Katrina has taken.

More reasonable are the tracks of Andrew and Betsy of 1965.

It is hard to argue against history. While there are no guarantees of an exact match in ultimate landfall, it is clear that storms headed west through the Keys just don't turn that sharply. Because of that alone it is reasonable to adjust landfall forecasts to the west. Even moreso given the shift in the models.

As I had been saying earlier, the more west Katrina goes, the stronger she will become. Category four strength at landfall is very likely if the consensus track forecast of the models is correct.

Hopefully the television stations of the Gulf Coast will put their viewers on notice so that they do not go into the weekend not realizing what Monday will bring.

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