There were a lot of changes with Frances during the night. Sustained winds dropped to 120mph (making it a category 2 hurricane), and the eye became less organized. Now 120mph isn’t hugely different than 140mph if you’re right in eye of the storm. However, anything sign that the storm is weakening is good. The caution is that when the storm makes the last move from the Bahamas to Florida, conditions are conducive to strengthening. As we know from Charley, these things can suddenly intensify.
The 5am track from NOAA seems to have moved the path back to the north just a tiny bit, and the storm has slowed considerably. This is good and bad news for Tampa. The slowing advance of the storm means it will have had more time over land by the time it gets to the west coast, thus probably resulting in even less intensity. However, the slow movement means a lot more rain. We’re forecast to get 6-12 inches, but even that’s down from 12-20 being forecast yesterday.
Of course, we also know storm tracks can change dramatically and quickly, so the final situation here in Tampa remains uncertain. However, it does look as if the winds may be less intense, and now we won’t be getting the main thrust of the storm until late Sunday and Monday. Some of the local weather forecasters and suggesting an even greater northerly track than NOAA right now, and looking at the radar, it appears the worst of the rain is, as usual, in the northeast quadrant of the storm.
And now, Chapter III begins. It appears tropical storm Ivan has formed. If looks as if it will become a hurricane sometime in the early morning of Monday, and is tracking west north west right now (mostly west at this point). Its still way too early to begin guessing about the track of Ivan relative to Florida, it does bare watching.