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Hurricane Frances - September 2, 2004 - 6:15 A.M.


CURRENTLY: Frances is going through an intensification phase. Deep cold top convection is wrapping nicely around a contracting eye. If Frances is to attain Cat 5 intensity (155 mph+) this cycle should be the one to do it. Expect a 145 mph to 165 mph hurricane for the next 12-18 hours. After that expect a falling back to 130-140 mph near time of landfall or close approach to FL coast.

While I AM NOT FORECASTING another intensification cycle as Frances nears the FL coast since shear will be increasing, the water is like a bath tub and while not likely Frances COULD tighten up again one last time….but at this time I DO NOT EXPECT THAT.

Bottom line here….If you live anywhere in the Hurricane Watch area you should be making preparations to deal with a very high end Cat 3 to low or perhaps moderate Cat 4 hurricane. Preparations to protect life and property should be put in high gear today. DO NOT BE FOOLISH….If you are asked to leave a coastal location or barrier island….DO IT!

Frances has grown into 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.

That covers the intensity portion.

TRACK: There is much more model spread than I would expect (or like) at this point we are after all within 48-60 hours of landfall. Some of the more reliable models (GFS/GFDL) still want to turn Frances north offshore of FL and take aim at the lower SC coast….this along with the ECMWF which has been coming north over the last few model cycles. The other global models (UKMET/NOGAPS) which at this time frame I usually put less credence in offer more a threat for the Central FL coast then across the state into the Gulf. Last 3-4 runs of TPC BAMM guidance have also followed nicely with the GFS/GFDL) packages. So, in summary the models are in two camps…one camp is across central FL and across into the gulf…this would cut a swat of destruction across the state and offer a second landfall someplace along the gulf coast. The other camp is a move up along or a very short distance off the FL east coast with a treat of landfall over the northern GA or SC coast. If that track verifies it would be by a weaker hurricane….120-130 MPH or so.

So what is my forecast? Staying the course with exactly what I put out last night…that is as follows:

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, east of Eleuthera 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.

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.

My track remains to the right of the official 5:00 A.M. advisory by about 35-40 miles then has more of a NW or NNW motion as it nears the FL east coast.

With the main models in two camps the reason for my staying the course with what I have out there is based largely on current trends with Frances and no indication, yet anyway of a more leftward track. Frances is moving around the western flank of the sub-tropical ridge. I don't really see any reason for the ridge to back further west or intensify….there is a pronounced weakness between it and another ridge to its west….I'm counting on Frances cutting up the gap in between. The 12Z model cycle will be quite telling if I have the right idea or not.

Of interest…my forecast issued over a week ago (Wednesday evening) was for a Thursday evening position near 24N/72.5W…I was about 12 hours fast and off by 60 miles. As good as that is for over a week out…it means nothing if you screw up the field goal with seconds left on the clock.

Hurricane Warnings for a portion of the watch area will go up either in the 8:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. advisory from TPC.

Please do not focus on the exact point of landfall….Frances is large and the effects will be felt a large distance away from the center.


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.

I will not be able to post updates today, next update will be about 9:30 this evening.

Prepare and be safe……