Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gustav Gets Its Gusto

The eye of Hurricane Gustav made landfall on the southwest peninsula of Haiti about 10 miles west of Jacmel shortly after 1:00 pm EDT.
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Gustav is moving toward the Northwest near 10 mph ... A turn toward the West-Northwest with a decrease in forward speed forecast is expected later today... and a general West-Northwestward motion is expected Wednesday. On this track this hurricane should move across the Southwestern Peninsula of Haiti later today and near or just south of Eastern Cuba on Wednesday.
For Jacmel's past history with hurricanes, check out Hurricane City.

Gustav's central core right now is comparatively small. "Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 25 miles... from the center... and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles," the National Hurricane Center says. Moreover, Haiti and the mountains of Cuba can tear it apart.

Official hurricane forecasts and past history are important, of course. At least equally impressive to us, however, are the tell-tale signs one sees in the eyes of experienced locals as one moves around town. At the gas stations, in the grocery stores, inside coffee shops and at the gym, coastal Pensacola area residents already have grown very wary of this storm.

Not that this a scientific survey or anything, but about three out of every four residents we encountered today volunteered that they expect Gustav to come close to Northwest Florida if it doesn't hit us directly. Half of them are saying they expect it to be a bad one.

For what it's worth (not much after Fay) here is the latest 5-day forecast cone:

8-26 pm
NHC 5 pm update:
The track guidance models are in pretty good agreement on a gradual turn toward the west-northwest over the next day or so... and overall the model consensus has changed little from the previous advisory package. Therefore the track forecast for this advisory is essentially an extension of the previous one.

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