[Update 11P MDT]:
Geez. Hurricane Omar is officially a Category 3 hurricane (a major hurricane, the fourth of the 2008 season). His maximum sustained winds are now 120mph. I noted earlier that the lowering central pressure could lead to additional intensification and that’s exactly what’s happened. Omar is located at 17.4N, 64.5W and is moving NE @ 20mph. His central pressure is about 967mb, lower than it was just a few hours ago. Some slight intensification could still occur in the next 12-24 hours.
Hurricane Omar is moving between the Virgin Islands and Anguila/St. Kitts. Hurricane force winds are confined to a relatively small area around the center. Tropical Storm force winds extend a good distance out from the center. Hurricane Omar could remain at Category 3 strength for the next 24-36 hours as he transits the western-central Atlantic. Weaknening to Category 2, then Category 1 strength should occur as he moves between 25N and 35N. By Saturday night, Omar should turn more toward the east and he should continue to slowly weaken as he makes his way across the north-central Atlantic.
[Update 6P MDT]:
Hurricane Omar is officially a Category 2 hurricane. His maximum sustained winds now clock in at 105mph. His pressure continues to drop. Continued strengthening could occur.
[Update 4P MDT]:
Hurricane Omar has continued to strengthen throughout the day and is now a strong Category 1 storm. He is close to intensifying to Category 2 status. That is now expected to happen prior to his impacts on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Here are his vitals this afternoon:
Center located at 15.9N, 66.1W; maximum sustained winds of 90mph; moving NE @ 15mph; minimum pressure of 973mb. That falling pressure is indicative of likely future intensification. We’ll see how long it lasts. I’ve been able to locate additional historical hurricanes that share Omar’s forecasted path. It was weird that I couldn’t do so yesterday. In fact, one such hurricane moved due north from Omar’s approximate current position and made landfall just to the east of Maine. Omar’s path should take him northeastward for the next few days before turning more toward the east, staying well north of the Azores.
Omar strengthened to hurricane status overnight, as expected. Here are his vitals:
Center located at 15.2N, 67.2W; maximum sustained winds of 85mph; moving NE @ 9mph; minimum pressure of 982mb. Omar continues to look good on satellite imagery. As of this morning, I still don’t see evidence of an eyewall. But convection is strong and banding features are setting up today.
Hurricane Omar’s forecasted track continues to take him over the Virgin Islands and east of Puerto Rico. The smaller islands now have Hurricane Warnings posted, while Puerto Rico still has a Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch. The islands should be impacted by the stronger portion of Omar starting later tonight through tomorrow morning as he moves out of the Caribbean and into the Atlantic. Shortly after that, Omar is expected to strengthen to a Category 2 storm. He could maintain that intensity for 24-36 hours as he moves northest through the Atlantic. By Saturday morning, the official forecast calls for Omar to weaken back to Category 1 status. By Monday (5 days out), Omar should be in the north Atlantic (~45N). He should have weakened to a Tropical Storm by that time.
So after moving over the Virgin Islands and lashing Puerto Rico for a few days, no further direct impacts on human populations are expected during Omar’s life.
Elsewhere, Tropical Depression Sixteen remains off the northern Honduran coast. In fact, T.D. 16 is incredibly close to the Central American landmass. It is forecasted to keep moving more or less west during the next couple of days. Officially, it has a small chance of intensifying to Tropical Storm strength, but I think this is less likely than it was yesterday. Regardless of its official classification, the storm is producing plenty of rain in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize. It will continue to do so over the next 3 days as it slides to the west. By the time T.D. 16 moves over Guatemala, it should only be a remnant low on its way toward the Pacific Ocean.