Ike APPEARS to be heading for a prolonged altercation with the island of Cuba. This is not good news for those people living on that island, but it is for people along the Gulf Coast. We saw with Gustov how interaction with a land mass dropped an intense growing storm down. Of course Gustov never did regain anywhere near the strength it had before crossing Cuba. If Ike really does spend a prolonged period of time traversing the entire length of the island, it will most definitely drop to a category 1 storm.
IF the model runs continue as they have been going, the ultimate threat from Ike may end up being more in the Galveston/Houston area than New Orleans. The present five day forecast has moved Ike farther west and on a path which would keep it well south of the area recently hit by Gustov. Of course we all know that by 11 this morning or 5 this afternoon when new updates come out, the track could be entirely different.
If a person actually read the discussion which comes out four times per day from the NHC, there is no denying the fact that when it comes to forecasting what a hurricane will do four to five days out, there many times is not a large degree of confidence in their own forecast. If the variables involved are few, the forecast can be made with some degree of certainty; but if the variables are many, such as with Ike, then the long range forecast is good for general guidance and not for specific instructions.
Look at this graphic from the Weather Underground (easier to read than that from the NHC), the margin of error by the time we reach next Saturday stretches from Galveston, Texas all the way to Tallahassee, Florida or a full 20 degrees of longitude. That is a huge amount of area to fall in the potential cone. The cone for day four is still pretty small, but day five grows and day six explodes. Thus, the lesson here is that there is absolutely no way to know at present where Ike will end up making landfall. It could be anywhere between Galveston and Panama City, Florida.
As frustrating as it is to not know what is coming five or six days from now, it should not be looked upon any differently than the rest of life. No one knows what the price of gasoline will be next weekend. It could drop to $3 or if Ike disrupts production again, it could go up to $4. No one knows who will be playing in the World Series next month, although it appears certain teams may be there. At this stage of the political campaign, no one knows for sure who the next President will be.
The best anyone can do is give an educated guess as to the future. Unless one believes in crystal balls or other means of receiving definite information about tomorrow; we must be content with what we have available to us as far as guidance. Unlike many situations which are manmade and entirely influenced by man’s actions; the weather, and especially hurricanes, are influenced by troughs and ridges and winds and things man has nothing to do with.
Because man does not control where hurricanes go, he cannot accurately determine tracks and intensity with 100% certainty. People have to understand that weather forecasting is an inexact science and there WILL be errors made. Weather forecasters cannot be held to a standard of perfection because it is impossible to be correct all the time. In some respects, it is amazing forecasts are correct as often as they end up being.
When I look at the map above, there are two things that stand out. The first is that IF Ike does spend all this time on Cuba, it will be lucky to be a category 1 storm upon re-entering the Gulf. Gustov never did intensify as many thought it would. There is no way of knowing if and how much Ike would intensify when back over open water.
The second thing is the ominous position this guidance places Ike in on day four. Not that it means anything, but it is almost identical to where Katrina was. Of course part of the reason Katrina ended up causing so much damage and killing so many people was that it went slightly east of the projected path. That was the fear with Gustov and that would appear to be the fear with Ike. As long as the cone includes an area, it means certain computer models show the potential for landfall there.
Please stay vigilant and listen to local outlets over the next few days. Honestly, until Ike is over Cuba and it’s duration over land is determined for sure, there is no way to say what comes next. Of course the media outlets are already scaring people with the prospect of the current Ike hitting New Orleans. This is crazy talk. Ike will be knocked down greatly by Cuba. Only after he is done with what Cuba has to offer can there be any real talk about the latest “storm of the century”.