Weather Nerd

Gustav strengthening; still no consensus on track

Bulletin: the 11am EDT NHC discussion on Tropical Storm Gustav says the storm, having cleared Jamaica, is already getting better organized, and “STRENGTHENING SEEMS IMMINENT AND COULD EVEN BE RAPID.” We may well see Gustav upgraded to a hurricane when the 2pm reconnaissance plane arrives.

Alas, no time for a full update just now, but I recommend Eric Berger’s latest post for a general summary on the track forecast. He notes that the computer models are still divergent. He also writes, “at this point, I would very modestly lean toward the Louisiana solution rather than the Texas solution.” But it could go either way. Or it could still go further east, as Alan Sullivan suggests, though anything east of Mississippi would defy pretty much all the current model forecasts.

Sullivan, incidentally, has several good new posts about Gustav, including this important nugget:

General rule for Gustav in the Gulf: the quicker it moves, the more severe it will be at landfall. If it slows, shear will weaken it more, and dry air will entrain off the land. Watch the speed and course: slowing and wavering will be good signs. But if it settles on a straight path after Cuba and moves steadily, someone will get pretty hard hit at the end of it.

Quicker movement also portends a greater likelihood of landfall in central Louisiana or points east, methinks, while slower movement brings western Louisiana and Texas more into play.

Bottom line, the entire Gulf Coast needs to watch this thing over the holiday weekend, and be prepared to take the necessary actions — including evacuation, if you’re in a location where that’s a potential necessity — if and when your local officials recommend them.

More later.