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Hurricane Ivan - Wednesday - September 8, 2004 - 9:30 PM


CURRENTLY: Ivan is closing in on Cat 5 status at this hour. Latest recon data has pressure down to 938 mbs and max sustained surface winds near 145 mph. So, despite a rather fast forward motion, the close proximity to the northern coast of South America and some weak southerly shear Ivan has continued to over achieve and has become a very intense and dangerous hurricane.

Actually, most of the storms this season have been over achievers.

Latest satellite depicts another mighty hurricane in the Atlantic basin. Ivan has a tight compact eye, a very symmetrical CDO with very cold cloud tops, good to excellent outflow in all quadrants and an overall near perfect satellite presentation. In summary, Ivan ranks up there with some of the great Caribbean hurricanes of all time.

Ivan is currently moving between west and west-northwest (285-295 degrees) at 17 mph.

INTENSITY: With increasingly warm SST's ahead of Ivan and only low shear, expect Ivan to remain a major hurricane for the next 72 hours at least. Intensity changes will be the result of eye wall replacement cycles/concentric eye wall cycles and any interaction with land….Jamaica and Cuba.

LONGER TERM INTENSITY: Assuming my track thinking is correct and Ivan makes it to the northwestern Caribbean sea…he should remain a 130-145 mph hurricane while affecting Jamaica and extreme western Cuba. Ivan still has a chance to reach Cat 5 status anytime over the next 72-96 hours.

As for intensity at landfall….no promises but if Ivan follows my outlined path he will be passing over some "cooler" waters recently churned up over the northeast gulf by Frances….in addition shear is forecast to increase toward the 96-120 hr period…so with any luck we won't have to deal with a Cat 4….but a Cat 3 at landfall is a definite possibility….and that would be bad enough.

This is a ways off but represents my thinking as of now.

Track: Ivan is now moving between (285-295 degrees) at 17 mph…this motion is expected for the next 36-48 hours with a gradually increasing northward component through the period.

This will take Ivan on a path over or just south (no more than 50 miles south) of Jamaica during Friday afternoon. If this thinking is correct Jamaica will sustain a direct or very near a direct hit by a very intense hurricane.

From there expect a path that will take Ivan across extreme western Cuba emerging near 23N/83W Sunday afternoon…this is essentially over the Isle of Youth….before crossing Cuba.

It will cross Cuba at a brisk pace, and the terrain is not that rough…so expect little disruption in the overall circulation.

Once emerging from Cuba Ivan will continue NW to NNW taking aim on the Gulf Coast…between the MS/AL border eastward to Cedar Key, Fl…timing looks like late Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday night.

This track is only a very short distance (30-40 miles) to the left of the official TPC track…and about 100 miles to the right of my thinking from Tuesday evening update.

There remains quite a bit of model spread and flip-flop today….the GFS seems clueless with a track across eastern Cuba, east of the Bahamas and out to sea off the east coast. The UKMET is right of my track with a projected landfall along the S.W. Florida coast near Ft. Myers. NOGAPS is across west-central Cuba…up right along the Fl west coast with landfall near Cedar Key. The 18Z GFDL….is as lost in the darkness as the GFS…it cuts across central Cuba with a landfall near Miami. The GDFL has been making wild swings back and forth and is essentially useless at this point. If order for either the GFS or GFDL to verify Ivan would have to turn sharply Northwest in the next 6 hours…and that is not going to happen.

The 12Z Euro….is right there with the GFDL…over central Cuba….right up along the FL east coast with an eventual landfall on the SC coast.

The 12Z Canadian Global is to the left of the UKMET through the Yucatan Channel with an eventual landfall on the Gulf coast of MS/AL. While I'm no big fan of this model and its ability to predict long term motions of tropical cyclones I just mention it so you can see how much spread there is among the global models.

The latest 00Z Medium BAMM is very close to the 18Z GFS…the latest 00Z Deep BAMM is very close to the 18Z GFDL only a little slower.

Bottom line…the models have been rightward biased for the last 3-4 days and I think that continues. So my forecast is close to the UKMET and the official TPC 5pm track package.

So there is much model spread, but the bottom line is that a major hurricane will likely threaten the Eastern Gulf coast states late in the weekend and early next week.

Residents from the LA/MS border eastward to the west coast of Florida need to monitor future updates on Ivan.

Stay tuned……….


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.