Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurricane Katia Still Stirring Up the Atlantic...

As of the 7am EDT National Hurricane Center Advisory, the center of Hurricane Katia was located about 365 miles Northeast of the Northern-most Leeward Islands, and was moving toward the Northwest at 12 mph.

At the time of the advisory, the maximum sustained winds were estimated at 75 mph with a minimum central pressure of 29.15 inches of mercury.  The center passed very near NOAA Buoy number 41044 at about 8am EDT.  During that hour, the buoy recorded maximum sustained winds of 82 mph with a peak gust of 108 mph, and the pressure dropped to 28.67 inches of mercury (see graph below):

Peak wave height also surged to 32 feet at the buoy's location during the 8 o'clock hour:

Based on the above information, I would expect to see Katia's intensity upgraded on the next "official" NHC advisory coming up at 11am EDT (then again, you never can tell what those guys are going to do).  Regardless of the "official" word, the data doesn't lie, and is certainly showing that Katia is a formidable hurricane.  Satellite imagery is also beginning to reveal more of an eye associated with her (see the latest visible satellite image at the top of the post) as well as strong spiral banding now taking place in most quadrants of the storm.

The short term forecast for Katia is relatively "easy", as she is expected to track Northwestward through early Thursday morning:

What happens beyond Thursday remains to be seen at this point in time.  A lot depends on the formation and movement of a trough of low pressure across the Eastern United States toward the middle and end of this week (as well as its interaction with the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee).  The exact location and timing of these feature along with the location of Katia early Thursday morning will determine whether she tracks closer to the U.S. coast, or turns back out to sea.

As you can see, the model consensus right now is to turn Katia back out to sea to the East of the Carolina's.  Right now I can't really argue against that based on what appears to be panning out insofar as the remnants of Lee and the development of the East Coast trough.  If, however, the trough doesn't develop as currently forecast, the Westward extent of Katia could change along all or part of the East Coast.  We definitely need to keep a close eye on this system as it approaches the coast later this week.

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