Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wilma Watch

TD.24 was visited by the hurricane hunters this afternoon where they found a central pressure of 1001mb and falling. Thunderstorm convection has been sporadic today and the actual center of circulation is still hard to find. The current forecast track has this system becoming a major hurricane NW of the western tip of Cuba in 120 hours.

The press in Florida began coverage of this system today in anticipation of a storm threat at the end of the week. The big questions are where will this storm impact and how strong will it be. The variables we always look at are sea surface temperatures (SST), wind shear, and dry air. Currently TD.24 has very warm water all the way to Cuba, but water temperatures decrease quite a bit once the storm makes it into the Gulf of Mexico. Wind shear is currently very favorable for strengthening and looks to continue that way as the system makes its way into the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, the system may start to encounter some upper level shear. However, wind shear changes with the weather pattern and could be different in 120 hours. Finally, we do see quite a bit of dry air in the Gulf of Mexico at this point. This could pose a problem for the system in the future as well. Therefore, we are looking at conditions that are pretty favorable for development as the system heads to the Yucatan Gap. TD.24 could become a major hurricane during this timeframe. After that it looks as though it will have a hard time remaining a very strong hurricane due to dry air and cooler waters. The western coast and panhandle of Florida needs to stay tuned as they could be dealing with a hurricane late next week. We will continue to watch the models as this storm develops. The next 48 hours will be interesting. Check back.


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