From Jeff Masters' weather blog:
"Hurricane Gustav intensified remarkably overnight, and is poised to deliver a heavy blow to Haiti early this afternoon as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane. Gustav intensified from a tropical depression at 11 am yesterday to a Category 1 hurricane last night in just 16 hours, tying Hurricane Humberto's record--set just last year--for the fastest intensification from first advisory to a Category 1 hurricane."
Omenously enough, it seems pretty clear that Gustav is on course for the Gulf of Mexico, and that continued strengthening is likely.
Currently, the National Weather Service predicts an 80% chance that it will still be hurricane strength around Saturday, with about a 40% chance that it will be a Cat-3 hurricane or above.
Even more omenously:
"The models are in good agreement on the 1-3 day track of Gustav, and we can be confident that Gustav will turn west and pass south of Cuba after a close encounter with the southwest peninsula of Haiti. . . . Which set of model should we trust? I plotted up the errors for some of the computer model forecasts made during Fay. While Fay was over Hispaniola and Cuba, the GFDL model made the best track forecasts, among the four main models used by NHC: GFS, GFDL, NOGAPS, and UKMET. This makes me more inclined to trust the GFDL model's forecasts for Gustav, since Fay and Gustav are similar storms."
I have to agree with this assessment, primarily because the GDFL model has the best track record:
"The coupled GFDL/URI Hurricane Prediction Model, one of a dozen used by the National Hurricane Center, was the most accurate forecasting model during the 2003 and 2004 hurricane seasons. "
"The GFDL has become the most reliable model in recent years, with its average error the least of all models. It additionally has performed well with individual storms, often as either the most accurate or second-most accurate model with individual storms."
And where does the latest GDFL model currently predict US landfall, sometime around Monday?
Please... no. We don't need another Katrina, and we're certainly not ready for another Katrina yet. Besides, large elements of the Louisiana National Guard were recently deployed to Iraq. (Yes, again.)
It's ironic, perhaps, that Hurricane Gustav's landfall is currently scheduled to happen on Monday... the beginning of the Republican National Convention.
... and who said that God doesn't have a sense of humor?!
As for now, though, it's a serious hurricane that should hit Port-au-Prince pretty hard. Send them your best wishes. Let's hope for the best.
Latest update, Wed. 27, 12:00 am:
From Jeff Masters' stormblog:
"The GFDL is a little slower than its previous run, but forecasts a Category 3/4 hurricane hitting Louisiana on Sunday evening."
Unfortunately, that is what I kind of thought was likely, given the earlier info that I had.
Keep in mind that Katrina hit New Orleans as a level 3 hurricane... so we could be talking about a storm even more powerful than that. Hopefully, it will stay smaller in size than Katrina, in order to minimize the extent of whatever damage might occur.