Thursday, September 9, 2004

OH GOD NOOOO.

That must be the cry of people in Florida, Cuba, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica when they woke up this morning and saw Category 5 Ivan the Terrible with winds at 160 mph.

And then they saw the NHC projected path through Tuesday. And then they realized how much water this storm has yet to traverse before reaching land.

Computer models continue to diverge after 72 hours, but that is little comfort to the little islands who will get almost blown off the map by this maelstrom. This will reach Jamaica as a Cat 5 or strong Category 4 by Friday, and with 90% of the homes in Grenada damaged or destroyed from Ivan's first hit, they are no doubt preparing for their own personal Armaggedon.

Concern is that with this storm so strong now, it has the potential to reach the Gulf as a Category 3, and then has some time to strengthen before reaching... Oh God No, Florida. However the computer models showed eastward leaning error bias in the Frances path, so perhaps the same is true and the storm will actually track farther west, leaving Florida alone.

So with a resigned fear for the near-inevitable, residents from (if there are any left) southern Florida to New Orleans, including Naples, Fort Myers, Tampa-St. Petersburg and on up to Appalachicola should be prepared to start hurricane readiness activities again.... very soon.

I still think the computers are projecting the Atlantic High pressure ridge weakens earlier than anticipated, so areas from Appalachiacola to New Orleans remain under risk for landfall. But Accuweather has finally broached the subject: This storm may equal or surpass Camille in terms of wind strength (190 mph) and central low pressure (905 mb).

Long range indications are that after Ivan, there is a brief quiet period of a week, then computer models shift the target zone to the Mid-Atlantic and New England for the latter part of this September to Remember.

Next update Thursday night as we see if Ivan is still Cat 5.

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