SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
I just heard that Dennis has crossed the Category 2 boundary, with winds of 105 mph. View the the menacing-looking satellite loop. This is a significant development for several reasons:
1. The hurricane appears to be strengthening faster than TPC projections. We will see in the morning discussion an increase in max wind estimates, currently at 105 knots (roughly 115-120 mph). I think it is becoming evident that Dennis has Category 4 potential given this 15 mph jump in speed.
2. A turn to the NW has occurred, and this may indicate the storm will jog around Jamaica to the north, not to the south as originally believed. This could be due to frictional effects of the northeast quadrant interacting with Haiti. As a result, the counter-clockwise wind flow coming around from the southwest and southeast quadrants is stronger. This in turn puts directional imbalance in the movement, with the northern portion slightly weaker and the southern portion stronger. The storm responds by turning more NW. Further evidence of this is a TPC comment from yesterday indicating the western portion of outflow was unusually consistent. Western fringes of westward moving storms can be more ragged and uneven.
3. The most important observation is that slight changes in the track now have major implications 3 and 4 days from now. If Dennis jogs around Jamaica to the north, then could frictional effects temporarily weaken the southern quadrants and allow a more westward track? This small change in movement now could mean the difference between an apocalyptic landfall in New Orleans, or an equally devastating impact on the weary Florida panhandle and surrounding states.