If you have been following the news or weather, the Atlantic Hurricane Season kicked into high gear. We've had Fay, Gustav, Hanna, all threaten the US, and now Ike has potential. However, Ike may be a little different. It will hit Cuba as a strong hurricane ( category 3 ), and pretty much move along the entire length of the country. Ike will bring devastating floods and much damage to Cuba.
The eastern half of Cuba is mountainous, and that will tend to tear Ike apart. The center of Ike will be over land for a while, which is also conducive to weakening. Therefore, it is very tough to forecast what Ike will look like, when it is done interacting with Cuba. It may become so disrupted, that it won't be a factor again. However, it looks like it will weaken to a Tropical Storm and reemerge into the Gulf of Mexico. That's where the problems begin for the Gulf Coast. It will be over very warm water and have very favorable atmospheric conditions for strengthening. Like I said, it is tough to foresee what the storm will look like when it is done with Cuba, but it should re-strengthen and provide some type of threat anywhere from Houston to the Florida Panhandle.
The official track takes Ike to a Category 3 storm in the northwest Gulf, by Friday afternoon. If, and that is a big if, Ike can hold itself together over Cuba, it is possible it could get to category 3 or 4 status by late week. The forecast gets pretty vague by late week, and that demonstrates the uncertainty of Ike's forecast after Cuba.
One thing is for certain, Ike will be driving residents of the Gulf Coast and the forecasters at NHC nuts throughout this week. Stay tuned...
Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe