Tropical Storm Fay has weakened to a Tropical Depression and hasn’t moved to the northwest much over the past couple of days. She continues to pull warm, moist Gulf air over the southeast which is generating continual rain bands over Alabama and Georgia.
The focus now shifts to what was Invest-94, now Tropical Depression Seven, which garnered that status at 11A EDT. TD7 has become better organized over the past 24 hours, with the beginnings of outflow evident in satellite imagery and a more balanced look in all quadrants. The more impressive convection is currently constrained to the northern half of the depression.
Model forecasts have TD7 moving northwesterly through the Caribbean, crossing over the southern peninsula of Haiti in 36 hours, then over the eastern coast of Cuba in 48-60 hours. Thereafter, a gradual turn to the WNW could occur, keeping the storm moving along the northern coast of Cuba through the five-day period.
Within the next 12 hours or so, TD7 is expected to gain Tropical Storm strength. The name of the next storm is Gustav.
[Update 12:25P MDT]:
Topical Storm Gustav has officially formed in the Atlantic. He has maximum sustained winds of 60mph and is moving NW @ 14mph. Additionally, Gustav is now expected to reach hurricane strength in the next 24 hours. The south and west coasts of Haiti now have a Hurricane Warning issued. The west and north coasts of Haiti have a Hurricane Watch. Landfall over the western portion of Haiti is expected near the middle of the day tomorrow.
[Update 7:00P MDT]:
Tropical Storm’s Gustav’s track forecast has been updated. Instead of hugging the northern Cuban coast, Gustav is now officially expected to make landfall on Cuba’s southeastern coast and then move northwest across the island. The exact locations in the fourth and fifth days should not be viewed as absolutely certain, of course. Interestingly, the individual model solutions maintain a bizarre curve away from Cuba in the 2+ day range. And it’s not just one outlier, most of the solutions I’m seeing display this.
[Update 10:00P MDT]:
Tropical Storm Gustav’s official track forecast continues to edge to the south, as the individual model runs maintain their prediction of curvature of his future motion. At this point in time, the official forecast calls for Gustav to still hit the western tip of Haiti’s southern peninsula as a hurricane, then strike the western tip of southern Cuba before reemerging over the Caribbean very shortly after his second landfall. Overall, this could be good news for U.S. citizens. The initial forecast had Gustav coming close to Florida’s southern coast, not what residents of that state need after dealing with the ridiculous amounts of rainfall from Tropical Storm Fay.
The hurricane warning remains in effect for Haiti, a hurricane watch is in effect for the northern portion of that country. A tropical storm watch is now in effect for Jamaica. As Gustav strengthens, tropical storm force winds will likely be found quite a distance from his center.
If Gustav makes it across Cuba in one piece, it looks right now as though he’ll enter the Gulf of Mexico in about five days’ time. Anything can happen after that: the entire Gulf coast will have to monitor this storm as it can strike anywhere at any strength.