Positive hopes for weaker Gulf hurricane

Thursday 25th August 2016

Fish storm GASTON has weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm in the face of upper-level wind shear being produced by an upper-level low pressure system to the west and may weaken still further. This is really a temporary glitch though, and GASTON will begin to strengthen in the next 12 hours as it tracks northwest and may even regain hurricane strength in a day or so. Peak winds of around 100 knots are expected in about four days before it weakens again. Despite this being a nasty bruiser, it will remain in mid subtropical Atlantic and only of interest to fish and sailors.

All eyes on tropical disturbance twenty six of course where the forecast track and strength seems to be changing hourly. In the last hour, a reconnaissance aircraft bagged the nominal centre 570 miles south east of of Miami. Despite the excitement, this is still only producing winds of around 35 knots and a less than useful hurricane severity rating of zero. The low pressure cell is moving west-nor'west at a leisurely 8 knots. Predicted development seems to be getting later now and this isn't expected to reach tropical storm force until Saturday as it passes the Bahamas.

This system seems to be struggling in some bands of dry air and may have even lost some puff as a result. This will still cross Florida as a tropical storm on Sunday but now instead of a cat 2 - 4 hurricane when it launches into the eastern Gulf, may only touch category 1. Nonetheless this is still a hurricane and an unwelcome event. Maximum expected hurricane severity rating is now down to 15 (8 size / 7 intensity) with maximum windfield radius of 140 miles and is expected to maintain this to landfall. The big question is of course, where? There is still a great deal of uncertainty as to where the northerly turn will begin in the eastern Gulf. The most likely final landfall point is between the Mississippi coast and the eastern Florida panhandle. The odds of reaching Texas are lengthening but it would be foolish to dismiss this altogether. Stand by for tropical storm force conditions across the northern Bahamas and the southern Florida peninsula and a weather watch is advised for all points west next week.