Hurricane Katrina Update 272100Z
AT 4 PM CDT...2100Z...THE HURRICANE WATCH IS EXTENDED WESTWARD TO INTRACOASTAL CITY LOUISIANA AND EASTWARD TO THE FLORIDA-ALABAMABORDER.
A HURRICANE WATCH IS NOW IN EFFECT ALONG THE NORTHERN GULFCOAST FROM INTRACOASTAL CITY TO THE ALABAMA-FLORIDA BORDER. A HURRICANE WARNING WILL LIKELY BE REQUIRED FOR PORTIONS OF THE NORTHERN GULF COAST LATER TONIGHT OR SUNDAY. INTERESTS IN THIS AREA SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF KATRINA.
At 4 PM CDT, the center of dangerous Hurricane Katrina was at 24.6 North 85.6 West, 380 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving to the west at 7 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 115 mph and minimum central pressure is 945 millibars (27.91").
Hurricane Katrina Advisory Number 18
Katrina remains in an eyewall replacement cycle, with one eye 9 nautical miles in diameter and the other about 50 nautical miles wide. The pressure has started to fall agin after maxxing out at 950 millibars. Katrina remains south of a ridge that is located over the northern gulf coast. Over the next 24 hours that ridge is expected to weaken, and cause Katrina to turn to the north. Some models have shifted their tracks, but have not done so in a uniform manner (and remain in general agreement on the forecast), so the offical forecast track is only slightly changed to feature a slight nudge to the west. Katrina is expected to strengthen once her eyewall replacement cycle is complete. Official forecast calls for 145 mph winds at landfall while model guidance is more agressive, calling for 150 mph winds. It is possible that Katrina could become a category five, it is also possible that there will be an eyewall replacement cycle intervening that would cut her intensity short of what is forecast.
Hurricane Katrina Discussion Number 18
Official forecast track
Last night I drove to Orlando so that I could perform my one weekend per month of duty for the Naval Reserves. As such, I haven't had the opportunity to see much of the storm today.
However, I do have some two storm related stories to offer that are Navy related.
Yesterday, the 600 sailors and officers of the frigates Stephen W. Groves and John L. Hall left Pascagoula Mississippi to evade Hurricane Katrina. Moving ships on short notice is a non-trivial event that is not done for fun. It is only done when a serious threat exists.
Two members of my unit were in New Orleans on the first of their two weeks of Active Training. Careful readers will note the use of past tense in the previous sentence. They are back in Florida after being told yesterday to get out of town on the first flight they could get tickets for.
The Navy is taking this seriously. So should all other residents of the northern Gulf coast.
If you were writing a book on hurricanes and wanted to get examples of the factors needed to create a category five hurricane, you would not have to search hard. For all exist right now. Low shear? Doesn't get lower than this (parts of Katrina are in areas of sub-5 knot shear). High amounts of heat potential? Red freaking hot, right in the middle of Katrina's path. A well-organized, already powerful hurricane? Here you go.
Can I guarantee a category five? No. Is Katrina going to try her damndest to make it? Yes. The only things limiting her are space, time and the sole weakness of a powerful hurricane: An unpredictable eyewall replacement cycle that temporarily reduces its strength.
If you are living on the coast or an otherwise low-lying area inside the danger cone portrayed in the National Hurricane Center forecast and you do not have plans to leave, then you are putting your life in grave danger.
The forecasters of the National Hurricane Center have pursued their difficult education, worked the long hours, and use every last bit of brain power to make their forecasts to save lives and mitigate property loss. To disregard them is to dishonor their work.
There is still time to secure life and property, but it is quickly running out. For the residents of the northern gulf coast, now is the time to take decisive action to do both.