2:10AM Update Hurricane Gustav has been upgraded to a Category Two Hurricane. RECON has found wind speeds of 99 to 100 mph in the NE Quadrant of Gustav. Gustav is now ahead of the 00Z SHIPS Intensity forecast by some 36 to 48 hours.
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3:20PM Update Recon has reported Hurricane Force winds, and once again Gustav is a Hurricane (and faster than I thought would happen)
Recon reported a closed eyewall and a pressure of 980mb, with a setup that is ripe for rapid intensification in the short term. Cuba and the Caymans will have to deal with this shortly, and once in the Gulf Gustav will have a chance to hover as a major (Some shear may keep it from getting too extreme or strong, but it likely will have a chance to develop some storm surge) as it moves into the Gulf later this weekend.
Original Update We are continuing to watch two Tropical Storms.
First, Tropical Storm Gustav, which is starting to leave Jamaica, and approach the Cayman Islands. Hurricane Warnings are up for the Cayman Islands. People there should rush preparations to completion. Beyond that, Gustav has a chance to clip the western coast of Cuba, or enter the Yucatan Channel and has a window for rapid intensification somewhere between Jamaica and the west coast of Cuba.
Once into the Gulf of Mexico, it has a chance to strengthen some, but there may be some shear to keep Gustav from getting too strong. Regardless, it is likely Gustav will be a major hurricane in the central Gulf of Mexico. The Northern Gulf coast, from Northeast Texas eastward to the western part of the Florida Panhandle will have to watch. (And until Gustav shows definite movement and enters the Gulf proper, that's probably the best advice). The most likely timeframe for a US impact is Tuesday or Wednesday. Please read advisories from the National Hurricane Center over the next few days and listen to local media and officials.
But that's not all, there is tropical storm Hanna northeast of the Virgin Islands, moving northwest now, but is expected to run into a forming ridge north of the system which will likely slow movement and eventually push it back southwest, bringing the Bahamas, Florida, and the Southeast in play late next week. Hanna's forecast situation is much more complex than even Gustav's, so it will have to be monitored as well. Too soon to know here as well.
96L that was in the Bay of Campeche ran out of time and never formed. A wave in the central Caribbean has a low chance of formation, but may later, and a wave near the coast of Africa has a chance to form later.
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