Gustav Update – 8:00am CDT Monday

Gustav is about to make landfall south of Houma, LA at 8am. A radar image from New Orleans at 7:53am CDT is shown above. Gustav failed to increase in intensity overnight and satellite presentation remains ragged with no real eye present (in fact the hurricane hunters even failed to identify an eye). The Hurricane Center drops the storm to 110 mph at 8am – a category 2 storm. I find it odd that a storm without a definite eye (for hours now) and one that all sampled data (like dropsondes, flight level sampling, and satellite estimates) would indicate as a slightly weaker storm, would still be a major hurricane up until 2 hours ago, then it is dropped to category 2 right before landfall… This is what people will remember and how it will be written in the history books – a Category 2 storm that just missed New Orleans.

Given all that, Gustav is still an extremely dangerous storm. Storm surge will be an issue along the southeast LA and MS coastlines. New Orleans should not see the same issues with levee failure and surge that they saw with Katrina since the storm’s path will not be pushing water out of the Lake into the city, but very heavy rain could still inundate portions of the city. Obviously, wind damage and flooding rains will be a major issue. Up to 6-12″ of rain can be expected across LA, southern MS, and southern AL, with even more expected for western LA and eastern TX as the storm stalls over this area in the coming week. We’ll still be talking about flooding in these areas a few days from now. Hurricane-force wind will be felt across southern LA and into central LA as well, and tornadoes are possible east of where the storm makes landfall, including southern MS and AL, the FL panhandle, and southeast LA.

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