September 4, 8 a.m. - Felix made landfall this morning in northeast Nicaragua as a potentially catastropic Category 5 storm. Felix is the second Category 5 hurricane to strike Central America in 14 days. This is the first season since hurricane tracking began in the 19th century that two Category 5 storms have made landfall in the same year. Top winds are 160 mph. The storm is tracking W at 16 mph.
5 p.m. Dean continues to bear down on the Yucatan with 150 mph winds. As it continues west rather than northwest, the small country of Belize is more at risk. We vacationed there in 2003. It is a beautiful, laid-back place that's not built to withstand a Category 4 or 5 storm. I hope Dean stays far enough to the north so that Belize gets the "back side" impact.
8 p.m. EDT - Winds still at 150 mph. Track back to W at 17 mph. Coordinates are 16.0 N and 71.0 W. The southern coast of Jamaica is at about 17.5 N. Eastern end of Jamaica is at 76 W. I'm praying that Dean holds a dead westerly track. If it could reach Jamaica's longitude while its center is at 16.5 N or less, then Jamaica would receive more of Category 1 storm than a Category 4. Hurricane winds extend out 70 miles. One degree of latitude is about 140 miles. The landing point in Mexico keeps moving south--good news for Texans and Louisianans, as long as Dean behaves itself once it hits the Yucatan.
August 18, 8 a.m. Update - Dean is at 15.4 N and 67.9 W heading W at 17 mph. Top wind speed is 150 mph, just under Category 5. All storm warnings and watches that were in place last night remain.
Below this is a closer radar view of the Caribbean with Dean looming in the east.
Here's a link for the radar pictures
August 17, 8 a.m. Update - Hurricane Dean passed through the Lesser Antilles this morning. The eye passed between the islands of Martinique and St. Lucia.
At 8 am EDT today, the center of the storm was located at 14.4 N and 61.7 W, just W of these islands. Top storm winds are 100 mph, making Dean a Category 2 storm. Forward movement of the storm is W at 23 mph.
Various storm warnings and watches are in place for Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the southern coast of Hispaniola (Dominican Rep. and Haiti). Jamaica also appears to be in the path, likely on Sunday.
Landfall on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula is forecasted for early a.m. on Tuesday, August 21. Once the storm clears the Yucatan, forecasters think it will still be a hurricane on a northwesterly track toward the south Texas coast.
If the storm maintains its direction so far, it will hit further south on the Yucatan and threathen Mexico rather than Texas.
Dean's path looks eerily similar to that of Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988, which devastated the Yucatan and inland Mexico, killing more than 300 people. Gilbert hit Jamaica as a Category 4 storm and came ashore on the Yucatan as a Category 5 and again on the Mexican Gulf Coast as a Category 4. It had the second lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded for an Atlantic hurricane and its wind speeds peaked at 185 mph.
Hurricane Allen took much the same path in 1980, but slipped between the Yucatan and Cuba to make landfall as a Category 3 at Brownsville, TX.
Hurricane Ivan took a similar path in September 2004, passing between the Yucatan and Cuba, then turning north to hit the Florida Panhandle.
Hurricane Wilma of 2005, brewed in the southern Caribbean, struck the tip of the Yucatan as a Category 5 and bounced northeastward toward Florida, then travelled off the Atlantic coast for the rest of its path.
The devastating 2005 storms, Katrina and Rita, entered the Gulf between Cuba and south Florida before heading to the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts respectively.
The website http://flhurricane.com/ has great information on the current storm and on past storms.
Above is the latest NHC map of Dean.
August 16 1 p.m. Update - Dean became a Category 1 hurricane at 8 a.m. this morning. At 1 p.m. max wind speeds are up to 90 mph--still a Category 1 storm, but approaching Category 2.
The islands of Dominica and St. Lucia are under a hurricane warning. Other islands in the same region are under tropical storm warnings.
Movement is still West at a brisk 23 mph. Position of center is 13.7 N 54.3 W.
Projection is for storm to clip the Yucatan Peninsula on August 21, though Jamaica is clearly in the path of the storm. The next update will begin to show how forecasters think the storm will emerge from the Yucatan. If the storm shifts more to the NW, it stands a better chance of reaching the US Gulf rather than raining itself out over Central America or Mexico.
Here's the NHC's report and 5-day projection for Tropical Storm Dean. Current position is 13.1 N and 50.2 W. Max winds are at 70 mph, just under hurricane velocity. Dean is no more than 12 hours from becoming a hurricane. It's moving West at a brisk 23 mph. A hurricane watch has been posted for the first set of islands in the storm's path. Dean's projected path is relatively unchanged, heading along the south coast of Jamaica toward the Yucatan Peninsula.
Dean's path didn't change much between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. EDT on August 14, though Hispanola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) has come more into the path with the storm drifting ever so slightly south (now at 11.6 N and 41.0 W). Maximum winds remain at 40 mph. The storm is moving west at 21 mph. A more northerly track would be better for us in Louisiana.
The first tropical storm of 2007 with a chance to threaten the continental US has formed in the Atlantic as Tropical Depression Four.
As of 5 am EDT on August 14, it was located at 12.0 N 36.6 W, with maximum winds of 35 mph, moving W at 21 mph. When maximum sustained winds reach 39 mph, the depression will become Tropical Storm Dean.
Projections by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) show the storm moving west and then WNW over the next few days, reaching Puerto Rico as a hurricane by Sunday, August 19. It's still to early to tell whether the storm will stay in the Atlantic or enter the Caribbean and perhaps the Gulf of Mexico.
Above is a map of the 5-day storm track projection from the NHC.