Friday, September 10, 2004


Many are now aware that Ivan is likely to be the third hurricane to strike Florida within a 30 day period, and news swept quickly it had reached Cat 5 status Thursday, then backed off a bit, but may reclaim that infamous prize this weekend.

Grenada was just about blown to bits, with 90% of buildings damaged or destroyed.

Jamaica is preparing for a full-blown direct hit from this insanely intense storm.

The Caymans and Cuba are next... then the eastern Gulf and probably Florida.

In light of how this hurricane season has changed our perspective about storms, I have modified the blogsite to reflect more useful links and information. If you have a suggestion for a link that should be added to the left column, post a comment to let me know. And take some time to read about the incredible "on the ground" storm and post-storm accounts from Grenada on the StormCaribe site below.


The closer we get to the endgame of this hurricane, the more likely it appears that some or all of Florida will experience direct effects of not a direct hit. There are about four factors influencing the final outcome of this storm's path:

1. Strength of the subtropical high pressure ridge to the RIGHT of the storm. Some computer models have a tendency to expect that a high pressure system like the one that will deliver nice sunny weather to the Northeast on Friday.... break down after 5 days or so. Thus, the projected path anticipates this and turns Ivan slightly eastward after crossing Cuba on Sunday. If the high weakens, that allows a force on the LEFT of the storm to exhibit influence...

2. Strength and duration of a low pressure trough in the Gulf. This player would tend to shunt the storm north-northeast as it exits Cuba. If the high does weaken as projected, this give the storm somewhat of an opening, unfortunately over Florida, through which to move.

3. Placement and movement of "dry slots" in the northern Gulf. As pointed out by the author of the Salty Bilge blogsite, dry air can be the first nail in the coffin of a hurricane. We saw this with Frances, although not as much with Charley. It is an interesting scenario to consider that despite very warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf, inflow to the storm from the north would be from land, which has traditionally much drier air. This could serve to weaken the storm as it moves north, provided the northward motion is slow.

4. Overall movement of other weather systems in the region. There are some scenarios setting up that indicate a slowing of forward motion as it nears Cuba. The NHC has projected this and has in turn forecasted solid Category 5 status after Jamaica and toward western Cuba. The concern is that the storm starts to do a Frances, due to the encroaching influence of that high over the Northeast, which in effect begins to trap the storm. So imagine the worst of a horrific nightmare...the trough to the west moves the storm along the FL coast from south to north, but the high in the northeast inhibits northward motion, while the subtropical high prevents eastward motion. The result is a Category 3 or 4 storm raking the western coast of Florida on a snail's pace crawl northward.


Jamaica will see Category 5 winds of 155 mph+ which will utterly destroy most of whatever it touches on the island. It will take years to recover.

The hurricane center expects this to remain a Category 5 to the coast of Cuba as it crosses 85-90 F water in the vicinity of the Grand Cayman Islands.

By Sunday, Ivan is likely to emerge near the Florida keys as a Category 3, and possibly stronger. This means minimum wind speeds of 111 mph, with re-strengthening back to Cat 4 before approaching the peninsula.

It will be difficult for this storm to miss Florida given the track and atmospheric influences in play. We all express our heartfelt empathy for the people of that state who have already had enough hardship to bear this summer. And computer models plainly show western Florida in the bullseye.

This time, a more northerly track closer to the East Coast spells trouble for the Mid-Atlantic later next week.

1 comment:

Rory Dittmer said...

These types of changes are sudden to be seen in the Atlantic ocean and I have seems them before. This time the readings are touching the roofs which is a thing to be worried about.