This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute nor should it be used in place of official information.  Please follow and obey orders from local emergency management officials.

Hurricane Frances - September 2, 2004 - 9:30 PM


CURRENTLY: Frances a little less organized then 24 hours ago….but remains an intense hurricane. Over the last couple of hours Frances is looking a little better, the eye has cleared out some and has become more distinct. Satellite depicts a well developed hurricane with an excellent outflow pattern. The CDO is a little distorted, but has improved over the last few hours.

Frances is basically moving W.N.W. to N.W. (300-305 degrees) at a slowing forward speed of about 9 mph. Expect this general motion to continue pretty much up until landfall.

Frances remains a very large hurricane with a very large wind field. Heavy swells and wave action will start reaching the s.e. U.S. coast over the next 12 hours or so.

Frances passed directly over San Salvador in the Bahamas a few hours ago…sustained winds of 120 mph were recorded…with higher gusts. Pressure dropped to 947 mbs.

INTENSITY: I believe the window for Frances to reach cat 5 status has closed. Would essentially expect a 130 mph to 140 mph hurricane for the next 24 hours…then roughly 120-135 mph at time of landfall.

One caveat….shear is forecast to remain low essentially right up till landfall, Frances has a well developed outflow established and water temps are very warm near and just offshore the FL coast….on the order of 84-86 degrees in general. It remains possible that the circulation tightens up before landfall and winds spin up to 140-145….not likely….but possible. Bottom line…Frances comes in as a strong Cat 3…at landfall…and it is really a matter of splitting hairs for high Cat 3 to low Cat 4….the effects are more or less the same.

Track: No real changes from last few updates….will try and narrow landfall location with this update.

Frances passed over San Salvador earlier and is now moving parallel to Cat Island, just offshore to the east. From there the center should move a short distance (less than 20 miles) east of Eleuthera…it is possible the western eyewall clips the island…from there to over the southern end of Great Abaco to a position just north of the western end of Grand Bahama Island.

From that position Frances will begin her slow and final move toward Florida.

Right now I am anticipating landfall between Fort Pierce and Melbourne Saturday afternoon or evening. Once Frances landfalls expect a slow (9-12 mph) track up just to the west of Orlando..then to west of Gainesville (15-25 miles)..then into south Georgia to the west of Valdosta again by about 15-25 miles. Expect Frances would be a border line TS/Hurricane as it passes west of Orlando and just a TS by the time is reaches up to near Gainesville.

Model guidance has become very tightly clustered and all solutions now lie from roughly just south of Ft. Pierce on the south to near Melbourne on the north.. My fcst is closest to the 18Z GFS and just a short distance to the right of the 18Z GFDL. I may end up being to far to the right in the later periods near Gainesville and Valdosta but that's my call for now.

Effects: Frances will be a slow mover across the state of Florida moving at about ½ the speed of Charley. Rainfall totals of 12-18" are possible, if not likely along the track of the hurricane. Inland flooding could be serious.

Strong winds will sweep over a large portion of the state and power outages will be VERY widespread…some areas that were affected by Charley will again be affected.

Surge…expect 8-12' surge near and to the right of where the center crosses.

Battering waves will affect a large portion of the Florida east coast…well away from the landfall location.

Conditions near and to the right of the landfall location will experience the worst…8-12 foot surge and winds over 115 mph. Damage will be extensive and widespread. Because Frances will be moving slowly the winds will last a longer than normal period of time over a given location. Strong winds will spread well inland as Frances bisects the state.

Batten down…gonna be a rough ride for a lot of people.

Next update about 9:00 tomorrow night and that will have to be it as I am going away for the weekend.

Elsewhere…T.D. 9 formed over the eastern Atlantic today. It is fairly far south and the overall atmospheric pattern favors another long tracked storm that could THREATEN the United States again in 8-10 days.

One at a time…more on what will likely become Hurricane Ivan, next week.


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.