Long-range Cuban radar shows Tropical Storm Gustav has developed an eye, which is now making landfall on the eastern tip of Jamaica. [UPDATE: Here’s a Jamaican radar, courtesy of WX-Man, who also links to live streaming radio from Jamaica.]
Dr. Jeff Masters has a full, lengthy, detailed update on Gustav, Hanna, and a series of African waves that could become Ike, Josephine, and Kyle. He predicts that “the tropical Atlantic is about to put on a rare burst of very high activity in the coming weeks.” I question the “rare” part; the “coming weeks” are the peak of the season, after all. But anyway, the point is, we may be in for a busy few weeks.
As for Gustav, Dr. Masters writes, “The latest 7:33 am EDT center report from the Hurricane Hunters found a significant drop in pressure, to 985 mb. This will likely mean that Gustav’s winds will increase to hurricane force later this afternoon.” But I’m guessing land interaction with Jamaica could forstall that.
Another key point on Gustav, forecast-wise: “A NOAA Hurricane Hunter research aircraft is scheduled to drop a network of 60 specialized buoys (Air eXpendable BathyThermographs, or AXBTs) in the Gulf of Mexico today to provide precise measurements of ocean temperatures in order to aid intensification forecasts for Gustav. This data will feed directly into the GFDL and HWRF computer models.” This is part of the reason why, as Eric Berger keeps saying, detailed analysis of the computer model forecasts should “wait until tomorrow morning, when the computers have new data from the Hurricane Hunters. Then we can begin to have some tentative confidence in them.”
Speaking of Berger, he just did an excellent live chat, and then published a new post asking, “How much can we trust the five-day forecast?” He looks at data from Katrina, Wilma and Rita, as well as more general data. Good stuff.