Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tropical Update - Much Uncertainty Still Exists...

As I mentioned yesterday, the models are having a horrible time trying to resolve the future track of both the system developing in the Gulf of Mexico (which is likely to become either "Lee" or "Maria", as well as Hurricane Katia.  (Yes, I know Katia was recently "downgraded" to a Tropical Storm, but she'll be back to Hurricane status within 12-24 hours, so I'm trying not to confuse matters too much - which I probably just did, but oh well...).

Anyway, lets look at the future "Lee" or "Maria" in the Gulf of Mexico first.  The latest run of the GFS model (which took place at 1pm CDT today) is forecasting the system to make landfall (after wobbling around the Northwest Gulf of Mexico for a few days) along the Louisiana coast at 7am CDT on Labor Day/Monday, as shown on the image below:

Meanwhile, the latest run of the ECMWF (European) model (which took place at 7am CDT this morning) is forecasting landfall very close to the same location, but 24 hours later, at 7am CDT on Tuesday:

"Consensus" (if there is such a thing) between these two models is currently trending toward a Louisiana landfall.  The Texas coast is also forecast to receive rain by both models over the weekend and prior to landfall, the exact extent of which will obviously depend on the ultimate size, strength and path of the system.  Message here is simply:  "Stay tuned for updates..."  As I've been saying for 3 days now, if you have plans along the Gulf Coast this Labor Day Weekend, please keep an eye on the weather.

Meanwhile, we also have Katia to deal with.  All of the major computer models have shifted Westward and Southward with her track today.  Below are the latest GFC and ECMWF model forecasts (respectively), valid at 1pm CDT on Wednesday (GFS) and 7am CDT on Wednesday (ECMWF):

As you can see, both models are forecasting a formidable Hurricane Katia edging ever closer to the Eastern U.S.  What happens beyond this timeframe is still up for debate, with a few of the models bringing the system further Westward, and the majority forecasting an abrupt turn back out to sea.   

The key feature that will likely affect the movement of Katia after Wednesday is the exact position of an upper-level trough of low pressure over the Northeast U.S. toward the end of next week.  If it comes in slower than expected, Katia is likely to continue moving West/Northwestward.  If the trough comes in faster, she'll be turned out to sea.  Again... "Stay tuned for updates!"

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