Good news for Florida – Bad news for the Louisiana / Texas coast.
Tropical Storm Gustav has turned to the west and Florida is now out of the ‘cone of uncertainty.’ The bad news is Gustav is expected to strengthen back to hurricane force as early as today and after it passes the western tip of Cuba will encounter nothing but open warm water while it treks through the Gulf of Mexico.
Gustav stalled yesterday over Haiti dumping more than 12 inches of rain. There have been 23 reported deaths in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
August 28, 2008 – 8:00 am advisory (from AccuWeather)
A tropical storm warning remains out for the province of Granma, Cuba, while all other watches and warnings have been discontinued for Cuba.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the Caymans and Jamaica
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Jamaica as well.
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Tropical Storm Gustav was located about 80 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica, near 17.8 north, 75.6 west. Gustav is moving slowly to the west-southwest at 6 mph. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 70 mph with gusts up to 85 mph. The estimated central pressure is 988 mb, or 29.18 inches.
Gustav is bringing significant rainfall to eastern Jamaica this morning then spreading westward during the day on Thursday. Heavy rain could also affect parts of southeastern Cuba during the day on Thursday. Rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches are likely with local amounts of 20-plus inches, especially at the higher terrain. This will create life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides.
Strong and relatively dry northeast winds in the midlevels of the atmosphere in the path of Gustav have taken their toll on the tropical storm causing convection to shift to the south and southwest and keep the system unbalanced. During the past couple of hours, convection has become more centered near the center of Gustav. Also, the wind shear has begun to lessen somewhat. Both factors have allowed for Gustav to strengthen during the last couple of hours. Gustav could become a hurricane late this morning or this afternoon. A mid- to upper-level ridge of high pressure north of Gustav extending over Florida into the Gulf of Mexico will guide the storm westward later today and then to the northwest tomorrow and into Labor Day weekend. Gustav should ride westward along the southern coast of Jamaica and then make a direct hit onto Grand Cayman Island as a Category 1, or possibly a Category 2, hurricane Friday morning. Further strengthening of Gustav is anticipated as it moves either across western Cuba or through the Yucatan Channel and into the central Gulf of Mexico. Due to this uncertainty, all interests along the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville to the Florida Keys should monitor the progress.