10:45 AM Update Hurricane Watches are now up for Southeastern parts of Louisiana, including the New Orleans Metropolitan area and lake Ponchartrain.
Folks in the area need to begin to prepare now for a category 4+ strike.
More to come soon...
8AM Update Katrina has become a major hurricane overnight, and now has 115MPH winds, it has now begun to move westward and eventually it will curve toward the northwest. There is still a great deal of uncertainty. Katrina, right now, has been very difficult to forecast accurately, and in general probably the most interesting-track wise-storm in a good while.
The current forecast track that the National Hurricane Center released, bends it back northward eventually moving in around coastal Louisiana/Mississippi. This presents a dilemma for the folks in New Orleans. The potential exists for a category 4 or 5, however models and track forecasts have been somewhat innacurate with this system so far. Add to the fact that there is nothing to shear the system currently, and probably won't be until Katrina nears landfall. And you have a very difficult call to make.
Folks in the cone will want to watch and pay attention to local media and officials in the area. I'm looking to see if the forecast track stays stable for an advisory or two. You cannot afford to play around with a system forecasted to be that strong in late August in the Gulf if you live along the coast. Pay attention immediately to watches and or warnings issued.
If past trends from other storms are any comparison, models may shift left and then back to the east some until they settle.
Original Update At 27/0400Z, Category II Hurricane Katrina with sustained winds of 90 knots was located in the Gulf of Mexico near 24.5N 83.9W. Movement continues to the west southwest and during the past couple of hours the forward speed has increased to about 10 knots.
The GOES satellite is now in its night-time orbital eclipse, so no new images for the next couple of hours. The continued west southwest motion and increased forward speed imply that the high pressure ridge extending westward from the high pressure center off the Mid-Atlantic coast remains quite strong - perhaps actually getting some fortification from Katrina's outflow. All of this adds uncertainty to her future track and final destination - with a chilling thought or two on a busted track forecast for Hurricane Mitch a few years ago - another famous 'southwest surprise'.
Most of the models, including the latest GFS run, bring Katrina into the northern Gulf coast on Monday as the Atlantic high pressure moves eastward and relaxes its grip on Katrina - well...maybe. The ridge is certainly stronger than previously anticipated, but sooner or later it will yield. Just how soon this happens is the real forecast dilemma and additional adjustments to the track forecast should be expected. Katrina should continue to strengthen and reach major hurricane status over the weekend.
In a recent Met Blog I stated that Katrina would probably still have at least one more surprise - and I still believe that. If you live along the Gulf coast, monitor this hurricane closely this weekend and be prepared to respond to updates to the NHC track forecasts.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Invest 97L seems on the verge of becoming a Tropical Depression (located near 20.5N and 48W) - it may well be one already. Models forecast this system to intensify over the weekend and move generally northward remaining at sea. Another weak tropical wave (Invest 90L) is located in the east Atlantic. 90L is poorly organized but has some potential for additional development in about two or three days. ED
Event Related Links General Links Report Katrina conditions in your area/read other's reports at this link (registration not required).
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