Sun Sep 26 2004 05:33 AM
Re: Jeanne Landfalls Near Stuart, FL

I haven't been around much the past few days, getting actual work done (a nice change, I guess, from following these beasts), but the second of the two options I presented a few days ago -- the more westward track into the state -- has come to fruition. But, where does it go from here?

If we've learned anythnig from this season, it's that storms are going further west than predicted before turning. The ridge to its north is gradually weakening, but it still extends a good bit to the west without a whole lot pushing it back east right now.

Best prediction would be for it to exit the state into the Gulf again a bit further south than what Frances did -- and probably a tad bit stronger at that point. Somewhere between north of Tampa and Crystal River looks to be my bet, with a gradual turn again to the NW with time. Overnight early Monday morning -- probably between 2 & 8 am -- a second landfall somewhere near or just east of Apalachicola is likely as a minmal hurricane. From there, the storm should being to turn N & NE. Thus, this track is a bit stronger than the NHC's track, a bit faster to begin with, and about 75 miles further west.

Everyone in the Panhandle needs to watch this one closely Sunday, as we may see some extension of the hurricane advisories up the coast. I've heard from a few NWS forecasters around the SE that they expect the storm to hit the Gulf's just a matter of where and for how long.

Stairstep tracks like Frances took across the state will be pivotal, so this is one instance where minor wobbles are something that need to be closely followed.

Best of wishes to everyone in this thing's path..and here's hoping Gulf season is a downer.

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