Gustav has weakened to a Tropical Storm due to its interaction with the highlands of Haiti. He made landfall over the southern peninsula yesterday as expected. Here are his vitals:
His center is located at 18.8N, 73.7W. His maximum sustained winds are 60mph, quite the decrease from yesterday’s 90+mph. He is moving NW @ 5mph. His minimum central pressure is about 998mb.
So Tropical Storm Gustav has slowed down since yesterday, giving the appearance of stalling somewhat. On satellite, it is apparent that convection is limited to the southern half of the storm. As Gustav moves away from Haiti, the mountains will influence the storm less and less. With warm waters and low vertical wind shear, Gustav should quickly regain strength as he moves northwest.
Model forecasts indicate that Gustav will move along Cuba’s southern coast and Jamaica’s northern coast. He could regain hurricane strength in the 24-36 hour time frame. After that, Gustav’s motion should turn a little more northerly. In the 48-60 hour time frame, Gustav could undergo rapid intensification, as the models indicate the possibility of a Category 3 storm. It should be noted that the envelope of model solutions has shifted to the east since yesterday, as more of them have the ridge over the eastern U.S. weakening to a greater degree. It’s that ridge that is keeping Gustav moving more easterly now.
Even if Gustav moves over the western portion of Cuba as opposed to between Cuba and the Yucutan, he shouldn’t weaken too much before re-emerging over the Gulf of Mexico. The longer he stays over water, of course, the more Gustav can cycle through eye-wall replacements. In the extended forecast period (4-5 days), Gustav is increasingly threatening the Gulf Coast of the U.S. The official track forecast has Gustav approaching Louisiana west of the mouth of the Mississippi River between Monday and Tuesday of next week. Regardless of where the center makes landfall, the timing is pretty bad with the holiday weekend approaching. People tend to pay less attention to news during three day weekends, so I certainly hope they’re paying attention to it now and getting ready for this storm.
Elsewhere over the Atlantic, the disturbance located northeast of the Lesser Antilles (Invest-95) could still develop in the next day or so. The disturbance near the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa could also develop, but is currently designated as less likely to do so than yesterday.