September 1, 2008: – – Gustav is a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 110 mph and has made landfall south of Houma, La. At 10:00 a.m. CDT, the hurricane was located near 29.2 north, 90.8 west. That is 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, La. and 100 miles southeast of Lafayette, La. Gustav is moving northwest at 15 mph.
A hurricane warning is in effect from just east of High Island, Texas, to the Alabama/Mississippi border, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. A tropical storm warning is in effect from the Alabama/Mississippi border to Florida/Alabama border. Grand Isle, La. is under water as of the late morning and reported a wind gust of 83 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extend 70 miles from the storm center, with tropical storm-force winds extending 200 miles from the center. The central pressure as measured by a NOAA research aircraft is 955 mb, or 28.20 inches. Gustav will maintain its Category 2 status into the early afternoon as it is still relatively close to Gulf of Mexico waters and is nearly paralleling the coast of south-central Louisiana. Later this afternoon, as more of the storm’s circulation moves over land, weakening will accelerate.
Tropical storm-force winds have already occurred in the New Orleans area and will continue through the afternoon. Hurricane conditions will continue along the Louisiana Coast into the afternoon.
A storm surge of 10-14 feet is expected on the Louisiana coast near and just east of the eye of the storm. The worst conditions may be in Terreboone Bay and Timbalier Bay at midday, as the eastern eye wall passes over these areas. Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes will experience the highest storm surge.
A storm surge near 10 feet is expected on Lake Borgne just east of New Orleans and will occur now into the first part of the afternoon. Water has begun to top parts of an industrial canal levee in New Orleans. Rainfall totals of 10-20 inches of rain are expected over parts of Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Similar rainfall totals might occur over parts of northeastern and East Texas if Gustav stalls tonight and Tuesday.
Once inland, Gustav is expected to slow its forward speed significantly. This could cause major flooding on Tuesday and Wednesday across inland Louisiana, northeastern and parts of eastern Texas, as well as across southern Arkansas.
Tropical Storm Hanna
At 11:00 a.m. EDT Monday, Tropical Storm Hanna was located near 23.0 north, 72.9 west, or 90 miles north-northeast of the southeastern Bahama Islands. Hanna is drifting to the west-southwest at 5 mph with maximum-sustained winds estimated near 60 mph.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles. The estimated central pressure in Hanna is 994 millibars, or 29.35 inches.
The government of the Bahamas has issued a hurricane watch for the central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Turks and Caicos islands, as well as the central and southeastern Bahamas.
Hanna is becoming better organized and has strengthened over the past 6 hours. Hanna has merged with a decaying upper level low nearby and will slowly strengthen as upper levels slowly warm. Some fluctuations in strength are possible over the next couple of days with the system achieving hurricane status during this time possible.
The storm is drifting in a general west-southwest path or perhaps even loop just east of the central Bahamas during through Tuesday. Beyond Wednesday, Hanna should start to move to the north or northwest and could move at a much faster pace on Thursday into Friday according to recent computer forecast information and could make landfall soon thereafter along the southeast Atlantic coast.
Through Monday, tropical storm-force winds should be mostly east and northeast of the center. However, the Turks and Caicos islands as well as the central and southeastern Bahamas will experience occasional wind gusts to and over tropical storm-force.
As Hanna begins to wrap convection around its center over the next couple of days, rains will increase and become more frequent in the central and southeastern Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands. Rainfall in these areas will average 4 to 8 inches with locally higher amounts possible through much of the balance of the week.
A new tropical depression has formed (9) as of 11:00 a.m. EDT. near 17.6 north and 39.5 west, or about 1470 miles east of the Leeward Islands. Further strengthening is expected with this system today and is likely to become the next named Atlantic tropical storm “Ike.” Computer forecasts keep this developing system away from land for several days. Tropical Depression 9 is moving west at 16 mph and a general west to northwest movement is expected to continue for the next couple of days. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph with higher gusts. The estimated central pressure is 29.68 inches.
Another tropical wave located along 50 west has a weak area of low pressure near 21 north, 50 west. This tropical wave continues to look poorly organized and is not expected to develop during the next 24-48 hours.