Tropical Storm Edouard’s maximum sustained winds are still* at 45 mph, but the storm is already getting better organized, and strengthening appears very likely tonight.
The NHC’s 5:00 PM EDT discussion states:
DATA THUS FAR FROM THE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT SHOW THAT THE WIND FIELD OF EDOUARD IS EXPANDING…WITH TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS NOW IN THREE OF FOUR QUADRANTS…BUT THE SYSTEM’S MAXIMUM WINDS HAVEN’T CHANGED MUCH. . . .
STRUCTURALLY…THE SYSTEM CONTINUES TO GRADUALLY IMPROVE IN ORGANIZATION…WITH WELL-DEFINED OUTER BANDING AND A FEW SMALL AREAS OF NEW CONVECTION GOING OFF CLOSE TO THE CENTER. WATER VAPOR IMAGERY INDICATES SOME EXPANSION OF THE OUTFLOW IN THE NORTHWEST QUADRANT AS THE UPPER FLOW BEGINS TO BECOME MORE FAVORABLE FOR STRENGTHENING.
The computer models are split on how much Edouard will strengthen, but the official intensity forecast is “unchanged,” and still calls for Edouard to be “VERY NEAR THE TROPICAL STORM/HURRICANE THRESHOLD.” Apropos of which, the NHC reminds us that “THERE IS VERY LITTLE PRACTICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A VERY STRONG TROPICAL STORM AND A LOW-END HURRICANE.”
Meanwhile, the track forecast has been shifted slightly to the right (or north), and may be shifted even further right later tonight, if the recent rightward shift in computer model guidance doesn’t reverse itself. (The official track is currently “JUST A LITTLE SOUTH OF THE MODEL CONSENSUS.”) If the rightward trend continues, Edouard’s right-front quadrant may come ashore just north/east of Galveston Bay, sparing that area the worst of the storm.
*I say “still at 45 mph,” although the last time I mentioned the wind speed, it was listed at 50 mph. Technically, Edouard’s winds were downgraded from 50 mph to 45 mph at 11:00 AM EDT. However, that weakening actually took place overnight, not late this morning. The NHC simply didn’t acknowledge the weakening until almost midday, because they initially expected it to be short-lived. In reality, Edouard has been hovering around the 45-mph mark all day long.