The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is here and needless to say the tropics are active. Three years ago around this time, Hurricane Katrina ripped through Florida and the Gulf of Mexico before pounding the Central Gulf Coast from Alabama to Louisiana. Now Gustav is anticipated to take a track through the gulf and perhaps make landfall anywhere from late in the day on Labor Day to perhaps Wednesday in the same general area. There are some differences between Gustav and that of Katrina in 2005. Outside of taking different tracks into the gulf, Katrina made landfall over south Florida as a category 1 storm, and then rapidly intensified to a category 5 in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, then weakening to a category 3 just before making landfall. Obviously, time will tell exactly what Gustav ends up doing, but if this storm blossoms in size to over 400 miles across in diameter and the barometric pressure falls below 920 mb, then the central or western Gulf Coast is in for a wallop of a hurricane. Based on the computer model projections, fairly favorable steering winds, and toasty water conditions, Gustav may strengthen to at least a major hurricane (category 3) before coming on shore along the coast. If you do have travel plans toward this part of the country, it is likely conditions will be extremely unsettled for the first half of the week ahead. For the latest on this storm, here’s a link to the National Hurricane Center.
Meanwhile, Hanna is also churning about in the western Atlantic and is expected to cause headaches for folks in the Caribbean Islands and Bahamas late in the holiday weekend through the first part of next week. Unlike Gustav which will be pretty much blazing its own trail, Hanna is going to be contending with a strong ridge of high pressure over the western Atlantic that is forecast to actually push the storm toward the south-southwest, while slowing its movement. If this storm does make a move toward the U.S. it looks like it could hold off until late in the week. Suffice to say, many will be focused on what transpires with Gustav and Hanna in the next week to 10 days.
While all of this plays out, the weather in North Central Wisconsin is going to remain dry and warm for the next several days, with August wrapping up as one of our driest months of the year. Rainfall for August in Wausau will only be 1.24", well over three inches below normal. Not good news for the farmers who could use some wet weather leading up to harvest time during the next few weeks. Hopefully our weather pattern will adjust somewhat as we work through the month of September.
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