Batten down for GASTON and umbrellas at the ready in southern Florida

Friday 26th August 2016

Starting out in the central Atlantic, tropical storm GASTON is centred around 1,000 miles east-nor'east of the Leeward Islands and moving north west at 13 knots. Maxim wind speeds have dropped below 65 knots now. Wind shear is keeping a lid on GASTON for now, but this will pass and the environment will return to favourable in the next day or so. It is almost certain that between next Monday and Wednesday, Gaston will re-strengthen into a category 2 hurricane with 115 knot winds. A good day for this old sailor to be sat behind a desk. A final weakening trend will begin in about 6 days time. This is no threat to land.

All eyes are still on disturbance twenty six. As the morning images come in from the US agencies, the only clear overview I have is one considerable uncertainty and even a total about-face from some of the respected modellers. The reliable European commentators who had this headed for the western Gulf as a category 2-4, have now gone for a weaker system turning north quickly when it enters the eastern Gulf. The US agencies who had previously opted for the same route seem to have switched places with the Europeans and are looking at a north-westerly track with a broad consensus of a landfall around the Mississippi. The Canadian guy has a thing for eastern Texas, it would seem. You wouldn't ask these guys for racing tips.

At the moment, the disturbance is still quite disorganised due to upper-level shear, the loosely defined centre farting around indecisively, some 450 miles south-east of Miami, with a drift towards the west at 5 to 10 knots. Most observers' tracks seem to agree that the system will pass the Florida keys sometime on Sunday morning, reaching tropical storm strength at the same time. Thereafter, opinions diverge wildly. One leading European modeller even has this tracking south to north along the Florida peninsula without reaching storm force, but the rest are divided between an early turn towards a landfall on the Florida panhandle as a weak tropical storm or a dash north west towards the Mississippi area - perhaps as a tropical storm, since fewer analysts are now expecting a hurricane. Naturally, anyone with an ounce of common sense would have hurricane contingency plans well under way in the offshore oil leases. What we can say for certain is that this is a rainmaker and heavy rainfall will likely occur across the southern half of the Florida peninsula and accumulations of 6 to 8 inches with isolated totals in excess of 10 inches are possible for the west coast of Florida.

A tiny low pressure cell – disturbance twenty seven - has formed about a hundred miles south-east of Lake Charles and is westbound at about 9 knots. This has only a slim chance of development as it moves west towards the coast of Texas coast but will bring enhanced showers and thunderstorms ashore this weekend.

Batten down for GASTON, umbrellas at the ready in southern Florida and stand by.