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July 08, 2005

Hurricane Dennis near Category 5- updated

The 11AM EDT advisory lists Hurricane Dennis with sustained winds of 150 mph and a central pressure of 138 mb, a devastating category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Dennis appears to have complete an eyewall replacement cycle and looks to hit Cuba at is devastating peak. This could be the worst hurricane that Cuba has ever seen. However, recent radar indicates that Dennis may be undergoing yet another eyewall replacement cycle. A recent hurricane hunter reported sustained winds of 155 mph at the surface; that would be category 5 strength! However, NHC has decided to discount this observation as they figure it too strong for the current central pressure. Please note, NHC did the same thing with a 70 mph wind reported from a ship in Cindy until a hurricane hunter found the same thing a few hours later. Hurricane Dennis very well may be category 5 by now!

Right now the computer models are having trouble deciding where to put Hurricane Dennis. Recently we have seen a shift back to the west, and the UKMET has still not lost sight of Louisiana. As I mentioned before, I expected that we will not see a decent solution from the models until after Dennis crosses over Cuba later today and we know how much he weakens. It looks as if the Florida peninsula may almost be out of the woods, but in the last few hours, Dennis has wobbled to the north. Although I don't expect this motion to continue, it has caused me to refrain for putting most of Florida in the clear. However, anyone for Panama City through Louisiana is still very much under the gun.

Right now I expect Dennis will be a category 3 hurricane once it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Another big question is how much energy Dennis will be able to extract from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. At the surface, the Gulf waters are just as warm as those in the Caribbean where Hurricane Dennis has been steadily strengthening. However, the warm water layer in the Gulf is much more shallow since it is still early in the hurricane season. Additionally, these waters were just stirred up by Tropical Storm Cindy (who I think should have been a category 1 hurricane). This leaves the possibility that cooler waters, especially in the northern Gulf, could actually cause Dennis to weaken to a category 2 storm. However, at the surface waters are warm enough to sustain a full category 4 hurricane.

The latest computer model forecast tracks:

The latest NHC forecast track:
Tracking God's Fury:
ATLANTIC
Tropical Storm Maria
Tropical Storm Nate
Hurricane Ophelia
EASTERN PACIFIC
  • None
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