Gustav’s eye has passed over western Cuba, and remained a category four hurricane the entire time. One gust in Cuba, where Gustav mainly affected the tobacco growing region, as clocked at 204 miles per hour. Miles. Not kilometers. The storm has caused considerable damage there (source).
Here is the salient information regarding the current forecast:
1) Confidence about Gustav’s path has increased and the following may, while it should be read with the usual caveats as to error, is thought to be more accurate than typical.
2) The intensity estimate has much less certainty. There are wind sheer effects that will reduce the hurricane’s strength, and there is some VERY warm water over which it shall cross over the next several hours. Later, the storm will move over other areas of relatively cool water. Most likely, the storm will make immediate landfall at Category Four strength.
3) Given the angle of approach to the northern gulf in relation to the shape of the coast around the Delta, there are numerous different scenarios that are at this point impossible to narrow down. The more oblique the angle the more rainfall may be brought ashore. Plus, the exact forward speed of the storm … which determines how long tropical force winds affect the coast and how long storm bands bring rain inland …. will ultimately determine much of the storm’s effects. There is very little certainty regarding this aspect of the storm, and the HPC is saying nothing about this at this time.
There is a mandatory evacuation in New Orleans at this time.
You may remember that when Katrina, a mere Category Three storm, came shore, it was said (by some) that the storm itself had little to do with destruction of New Orleans. Rather, New Orleans was severely damaged by a flood. As though that flood was not the outcome of the storm.
So let’s get this straight now. A hurricane coming ashore does three things …. each of these three things is part of the hurricane.
i) strong winds blow;
ii) lots of rain may fall, causing flooding and general wetness; and
iii) a storm surge, caused by low pressure and the winds can raise the ocean and bring it along the ‘dry land’ in some cases quite some distance.
A hurricane is made of these three things. The effects of Katrina in New Orleans was mainly flooding, in parts of Mississippi mainly storm surge and wind. As far as Gustav is concerned, we will have to see.