Ike Loses Some Punch, But Is Still A Major Hurricane

There is double trouble in the Atlantic right now, and it could become a triple threat depending on what Josephine does in the coming days. Besides Tropical Storm Hanna, we are monitoring Hurricane Ike, which is the most significant threat of the three named storms presently in the Atlantic. During the overnight, and into this morning, Ike weakened a bit more, but this was expected.

Once a Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale after undergoing a rapid intensification that saw the minimum central pressure drop some 61 millibars in about 30 hours, Ike has gradually waned to only being a strong Category Three system with 125 mile per hour winds and a minimum central pressure of 945 millibars, or 27.91 inches of Hg (Mercury), which has actually remained steady since last night. The storm is moving to the West near 15 miles per hour, and is located some 460 miles to the north of the Leeward Islands, or 660 miles East-Northeast of Grand Turk Island.

The storm has lost some of its symmetry, particularly on the Northern and Western side, where it has been sheared somewhat. In addition, the eye feature in Ike has become more obscure after being quite prominent over the past few days. More weakening is forecast over the next day or two as Ike is pushed farther south and west thanks to a strong ridge of high pressure over the Northwestern Atlantic that is forecast to push southeastward in the coming days. The overall size of the storm has shrunk slightly. Hurricane force winds still extend some 35 miles from the center of circulation, but tropical storm force winds only reach 105 miles.

According to the latest discussion from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, the storm’s eye has become less visible, and the cloud tops have warmed somewhat as indicated by the infrared satellite imagery. However, other satellite imagery does not reveal any significant deterioration of the storm’s core, and the forecast calls for more weakening over the next 24 to 48 hours, but after that, some reintensification should occur. The shear from the Northeast that has affect Ike’s Northwestern eyewall is expected to slacken, and the sea surface temperatures are more than warm enough to support redevelopment.

The intensity forecast over the next three to five days shows a consensus that has Ike weakening to a strong Category Two at 110 miles per hour within 24 hours. After that though, the hurricane is expected to regain strength gradually, and be close to Category Four intensity by the time it makes landfall early next week. The forecast track has Ike continuing westward for the time being, and a bit southward thanks to the influence of the mid-latitude ridge that has settled over it to the north. By Monday morning, Ike will be in the Central Bahamas, and then by 2:00 AM Wednesday, it will be in extreme South Florida, which is a bit south and west of where it was supposed to be as of last night.

Keep in mind though that these long range forecasts do have greater error as you go further out into the future. All interests in Florida, the Southeastern U.S., Gulf Coast, Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola should closely monitor the progress of this storm.