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Hurricane Frances - Frances - September 1, 2004 - 10:00 PM


CURRENTLY: Frances is not as well depicted on satellite as she was 24 hours ago…it appears some dry air is affecting the n.w. quadrant but shear remains low and outflow is spectacular. I do not believe this is the start of any wholesale weakening. Latest SHIPS is essentially peaking Frances now then SLOWLY allows her to fall back in intensity to near 115-120 mph in 72 hours. Still think Frances could intensify to 150-155 mph over the next 24 hours as the eye contracts. If she has not done it by this time tomorrow, she likely will not.

In summary I look for a strong CAT 3 to Low Cat 4 for the next 48 hours..perhaps a bit higher sometime over the next 24 hours…beyond 48 hours out to 72 hours….125-135 mph looks like a reasonable fcst.

Frances continues on a W.N.W. track (290 degrees) at about 15 mph. This motion with more northward component (295 degrees over next 24 hours) (perhaps to 300 degrees by 48 hours) over time will continue for the next 24-48 hours.

Frances passed about 35 miles offshore Grand Turk earlier today at closes approach.

INTENSITY: Have discussed this above….135-155 next 24 hours. 48-72 hour intensity 125-135….so I am anticipating a strong Cat 3 to Low Cat 4 at landfall.

Intensity forecast is not an exact science….While not expected at this time….Frances could be stronger at time of landfall.

Intensity fluctuations over the next 24-36 hours will be related to eye wall cycles….beyond 36 hours some increasing shear will likely knock Frances back some.

Bottom line here….Frances will remain a MAJOR Cat3+ hurricane for the next 72 hours.

As mentioned earlier in the week Frances has grown to a very large hurricane….much larger than Charley and more on the scale of Floyd in terms of aeral coverage. She will affect a large area away from her center.

Track to 72 hours: At this point based on current trends I feel I need to nudge the track from last night to the right a bit….this is not going to be a huge shift but every little bit is going to help.

Here goes….Based on current trends, satellite, water vapor and recon…and loosely the latest ECMWF and most recent (00z) of TPC BAMM guidance expect Frances to skirt the eastern Bahama Islands. Moving from her current position to near or JUST to the right of San Salvador….just offshore Cat Island, then over or perhaps just east of Great Abaco Island by early Friday afternoon…from there expect it to either come inland or scrape the coast from Fort Pierce to Daytona.

VERY IMPORTANT….This is my best forecast based on the latest information. Frances is large and will affect a large area away from any landfall. There is still uncertainty in the track. Residents along the entire east coast of Florida from Miami to Jacksonville need to pay close attention and prepare for a major hurricane. Better to OVER PREPARE then be caught off guard…we just saw that in Punta Gorda on the west coast. They were under a warning and thanks to the media dwelling on Tampa folks to the south of Tampa were caught off guard. Also Charley demonstrated the uncertainty in intensity forecasting as he in rapidly deepened just prior to landfall.

Residents further north from Jacksonville to the SC/NC border also need to monitor the progress of Frances…it would only take a slight additional shift to the right to keep the hurricane off shore of Florida and then move north to GA/SC.

Right now I am hard pressed to see a landfall south of Fort Pierce…this does not mean residents along the coast south of Fort Pierce will not have effects from Frances….battering waves and surf will affect almost the entire east coast of Florida…and tropical storm force winds extend out well away from the center of the hurricane.

Worst effects as always will be near and to the right of where the center crosses the coast. If my forecast is exactly right then the western eye wall could scrape a large portion of the central Fl coast. Any additional rightward adjustment would help that situation.

Bottom line….residents of the east coast of Florida from Miami to Jacksonville need to step up preparations for a major hurricane.

At this point I can't go into any inland effects from Frances…need to try and nail down the next 72 hours first.

My track above is now to the RIGHT of the official TPC track issued at 5:00 P.M…. the track I've outlined above is about 40-50 miles to the right of last nights.

Hurricane watches will likely be hoisted for portions of the Florida east coast shortly.

If my general track thinking is correct a large portion of the east coast of Florida could be raked by strong onshore winds of storm to hurricane force along with battering waves at the beaches.

That's all for now….will update again about 7:00 A.M. tomorrow.


Please refer to official statements from TPC and local weather services offices for official information. Please obey all evacuation orders as issued by local emergency service offices.