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The latest on Hurricane Ivan -- not good

Jason Samenow @ 12:30 AM

Hurricane Ivan, courtesy NOAAIvan's strength fluctuated a bit yesterday, starting the day as a Category 5 storm and ending the day at Category 4. At one point, winds of 210 mph were recorded 350 feet above the ocean's surface. The pressure fell as low as 917mb. To put this in perspective, Hurricane Gilbert's minimum pressure was 888mb, Andrew's was 921 mb, Isabel's was 916mb and Mitch's was 906mb--so this storm ranks up there with the big ones in terms of peak intensity--and it may not have peaked. Fluctuations in intensity are expected to continue, but this storm will likely strike Jamaica today as either a strong Category 4 or a Category 5 hurricane.

The big question is where is this thing going? Computer model forecasts are starting to cluster around a scary scenario with the storm significantly impacting (this does not imply a direct hit, but within close enough proximity to cause damage, fatalities) Kingston, Jamaica (almost certainly-95% probability), Havana, Cuba (very likely, 90% probability), the Florida Keys (65% probability), Miami (50% probability) and then moving up the East Coast for another landfall in the Carolinas (33% probability).

Intensity forecasts are always tough. The storm will interact with the land masses of Jamaica and Cuba which will probably weaken it a bit. And it may encounter some shear, but the shear will not be as strong as the shear that weakened Frances. Moreover, it will be over very warm waters as it approaches Florida. So it will likely make landfall as a major hurricane.

Taking all of the above into account, I'm calling for Ivan's landfall at the southern tip of Florida in Everglades National Park as a Category 3 hurricane before moving offshore near Stuart, Florida (that puts Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in the path of the storm). I'll fine tune this forecast and provide some insight as to what will happen to Ivan after Florida tomorrow.

Because we aim to entertain and not just forecast doom and gloom, see this funny guide on hurricane journalism: On the beach, waiting for Frances

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