MICHAEL set to be a powerful hurricane at landfall
Tuesday 9th October 2018
Hurricane MICHAEL is now 375 miles south of Panama City headed north-nor'west at 12 knots. We didn't get the rapid transit of the Yucatan Channel that we had hoped for and this leisurely start allowed more intensification time and increased collection of water. MICHAEL only intensified slightly overnight as there was a wisp of upper level wind shear aloft but that's gone now, the glass is falling rapidly and a robust eye is forming. Squalls are forecast to reach the deepwater areas off the south-eastern Louisiana coast during this coming afternoon and tropical storm conditions will arrive across eastern parts of the oil lease areas tonight. As the worst excesses of MICHAEL are to east of centre, northern Cuba and eastern Florida will be prone to flooding as MICHAEL passes. The smart money is still on Panama City tomorrow afternoon for a landfall. I hope I'm wrong, but I'd expect a slight nudge to the west and a category 4 prior to landfall but the consensus is for a peak category 3. There is a glimmer of hope in that intense hurricanes striking the northern Gulf Coast usually weaken slightly before they hit the beach. Nonetheless, irrespective of where this lands, it will not be good news. One or two of the more conservative modellers are using uncharacteristic adjectives to describe impact ashore such as ‘off-the-scale' wind gusts, horrible storm surges with major coastal flooding and major structural damage from wind and tidal surge with areas receiving up to 10 inches of rain. MICHAEL has a current hurricane severity index rating of 18 out of 50 points (9 for size and 9 for intensity) with wind speeds of between 90 and 100 knots with a tropical storm force windfield radius of 150 miles. At peak, this is expected to reach an HSI rating of 24 (11 for size and 13 for intensity) with a tropical storm force windfield radius of 270 miles and wind speeds of between 100 and 110 knots. After landfall, MICHAEL will track across Georgia and the Carolinas maintaining tropical storm and perhaps even hurricane intensity with the risk of localised flooding before moving into the Atlantic. Once in the Atlantic, it should pass south of New England and Atlantic Canada.
Disturbance Forty Eight is now passing around 100 miles north of Curacao moving slightly north of west at 12 knots. Soon, this will drop speed a couple of revs as it meets the low pressure trough that gave rise to MICHAEL. This may then start organising into a tropical development of interest. The Canadian guy is all over a rerun of MICHAEL like a bad rash of course, but I have my doubts. Current pressure gradients would indicate that if this were to develop, it would not follow the path of MICHAEL but a more north-westerly track towards the Yucatan peninsula and perhaps into the Bay of Campeche.
Disturbance Forty Seven is now just over three days east of the Leeward Islands moving west at 8 knots but is kitten-weak and showing no signs of development.
Tropical Storm LESLIE is now 1,500 miles west of Madeira moving south-sou'east at 11 knots. This should continue for a day or so before nudging north on to a more easterly track which could pose a threat to Madeira later this week. Current sustained winds are around 60 knots but conditions ahead are favourable for development and this may regain hurricane strength again.
Disturbance Fifty became organised overnight and has been upgraded to Tropical Depression Fifteen. Centred 470 miles south-west of the Cape Verde Islands and moving to the west-nor'west at 10 knots and becoming more organised, this is continuing to lean towards a turn north into Atlantic anonymity where upper level wind shear awaits. We have had a number of new addressees over the past week or two, and more are always welcome - so we'll add a brief footnote. We start collecting information early each morning London time, or depending on which time zone I'm in. Then, once the overnight reports are in from the US (early to mid-afternoon our time), we issue our daily report as an email. Later these reports are posted on our website at www.watkins-marine.com and for those of you who understand the darker arts of social media, a daily Tweet on @watkinsmarine along with other matters of general maritime interest. Do join us.
Stand by for imminent tropical storm force winds across eastern Florida to the offshore oil leases of Louisiana followed by hurricane conditions as MICHAEL approaches the Gulf coast.