Tampa has, once again, completely dodged the bullet of Katrina, but it’s pretty clear that the coast lines of Louisiana and Mississippi are not going to be so lucky. In fact, due to the sweeping path of this storm, its had a lot of time over very warm gulf waters, and increased to an incredible strength.
I watched the weather just about an hour ago, and they reporting sustained winds of 175 mph with gusts to over 200 mph. The satellite picture was downright scary. This thing is extremely well organized and covers almost the entire gulf. The eye of the storm is just a perfect 30 mile diameter stadium effect. They report that the pressure in the core continues to drop indicating even further strengthening. Storms of this intensity rarely can maintain that strength for an extended period, so the only hope for the coastal areas in the path of Katrina is that she will undergo an eye wall replacement just prior to landfall.
However, even with that, in the best scenario she is still a Category 4 when she makes landfall. In the most recent discussion on the National Weather Services site, they say, “Katrina is comparable in intensity to Hurricane Camille of 1969…only larger.” They also remind everyone that a hurricane is not just a fixed point on a map. Katrina is a huge storm with a large wind field of hurricane force winds, and very broad storm surge.
Here in Tampa, we had one hard shower of rain yesterday afternoon that lasted less than 20 minutes. We have some light sprinkles throughout yesterday afternoon, and today has actually been a very nice day. About the only issues will be tomorrow as our winds shift to be from the south and west. This will bring in more rain and slightly elevated tides, but that’s not much an issue for us.
There are two other systems out in the tropics that are being watched closely. At least one will most likely achieve tropical depression status later today.