With each passing day, the tropical situation becomes more intense. Just as one major hurricane starts the process of unwinding, others form and still others lie in wait. This year it seems all the ingredients needed for a very active hurricane season have fallen into place for the first time in three years.
Word from my sources down on the Mississippi coast is that although not as bad as Katrina, by a long shot, Gustov’s storm surge surpassed expectations and has brought unexpected flooding to the same places devastated by Katrina. It has been reported that as many as 100 homes have been flooded in Pearlington, which was ground zero for Katrina. Reports of the storm surge taking out numerous “Katrina cottages” have filtered in from Long Beach and other sections of Hancock County.
I am sure there will end up being major damage to various locations in Louisiana. There is simply no way a storm of the magnitude of Gustov could hit without causing major storm surge flooding and quite a bit of wind damage. As crews are able to get out with the light of day and survey the scene, I am sure pockets of extreme destruction will be found, especially in areas near the coast.
There have been numerous possible explanations given as to why Gustov did not re-strengthen after passing over Cuba. I am sure the real reason is among them, or a combination of many factors. Forecasting hurricanes is so much better than it used to be, but there are still countless unanswered questions as to the mechanics of storms when exposed to different elements such as wind shear, dry air, cold water and other tropical storms in the vicinity.
As bad as Gustov ends up being, it could have been 100 times worse if the storm had regained category 4 status and/or wobbled just 50 miles to the east. Whether the New Orleans levees will hold up through the remainder of this season plus two more until their planned completion is anyone’s guess. They held this time, but barely. A slightly stronger storm 50 miles to the east would have totally changed the storm surge dynamics and the wind field.
Hanna is a study in perseverance. The vast majority of storms confronted by the adverse conditions attacking it would have dissolved long ago. Instead, for reasons not entirely clear to the scientists, the storm is not only “hanging in there” but continues to strengthen. Tossing aside what it does or does not do the next day or so; the prevailing conscientious is that Hanna will emerge from the Bahamas on Wednesday and explode somewhat like Gustov just did.
The vast majority of models take Hanna north to somewhere between Georgia and North Carolina with Charleston and Myrtle Beach in the crosshairs. Just how strong Hanna becomes is subject to quite a bit of discussion right now, but there is a very real chance it could become at least as strong as Gustov if not far stronger. By Friday or Saturday somebody is going to be dealing with a major hurricane in either South or North Carolina.
Ike continues to intensify rather quickly and is heading due west into the southern Bahamas and just north of Puerto Rico. The long term guidance for Ike is not clear at the moment. Much will depend on what Hanna does and when she does it. Ike could literally follow in Hanna’s wake or could keep heading west into the Gulf of Mexico. Either way, Ike is showing signs of being a major hurricane.
Hurricane Josephine will form today out of depression number ten. Behind Josephine, a new area of disturbed weather just formed which will likely be Kyle. It is incredible to see so many major storms alive at once in the Atlantic basin. It is also cause for extreme caution and vigilance on the part of everyone living near the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. The relentless parade of hurricanes will test everyone’s patience and place incredible stress on all levels of emergency management.
Of increasing concern is the ability of FEMA to be two or even three places at once. Much has been made of FEMA’s presence in Louisiana and now it is almost certain they will be needed in either South or North Carolina by the weekend. Depending on where Ike decides to visit, that would be three huge areas impacted at the same time. Let us hope things go better than three years ago when those affected by hurricanes Rita and Wilma saw very little help due to Katrina.
I will keep scouring the sources in my attempt to put together these updates as long as the need is there. Having a long standing interest in meteorology as well as hands on experience with Katrina relief and recovery; I feel qualified enough to speak with at least some degree of confidence on both the meteorological as well as “on the ground” aspects of these storms. Thank you reading.