Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where are you going Fay?

That is a question we will be answering over the next few days. Right now it appears Fay will drift west across the Florida Peninsula and then the Panhandle. The big question is will she move far enough south, over the Gulf, allowing Fay to strengthen once again, possibly into a hurricane? The image above shows the forecast tracks from various computer models the National Hurricane Center uses to determine their official track. As you can see, the majority keep Fay right along the Florida Coast. This would not allow her to strengthen and more than likely Fay would remain a depression. You can also see that one of the models, the Navy’s GFDN (Dark Blue), their tropical cyclone forecast model, tracks Fay across the northern Gulf. This is a worst case scenario. Fay would more than likely become a hurricane over the warm Gulf waters and head in the direction of New Orleans.

Ultimately Fay’s track will be determined by the overall atmospheric pattern and steering currents. Currently, a large area of high pressure is off the New England coast acting like a brick wall, not allowing Fay to move north. The outer edge of the high will steer Fay to the west over the next couple of days. There is also a trough of low pressure over the Northern Plains that could turn Fay north into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys but, this trough will be replaced by another area of high pressure beginning next week. It is this second area of high pressure that will have the greatest effect on Fay’s future. If the high strengthens fast enough, Fay will remain on a southern track and could move as far west as the Texas Gulf Coast. If the high remains a little weaker, the Fay could squeeze between the two areas of high pressure, staying over land, weakening, and then being picked up by the continental westerly winds. The second scenario seems more likely at this time but, Fay has been surprising everyone so we will be watching this situation very closely.

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