The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, the recon outfit featured in my novel EYEWALL, will be busy the next few days flying frequent missions into soon-to-be Hurricane Gustav. There’s a lot of concern over Gustav, and rightfully so. The cyclone seems almost certain to slice into the U.S. Gulf Coast sometime early next week, quite possibly as a major (sustained wind speeds over 110 mph) hurricane.
But let’s not forget about Hanna. Right now Hanna is a tropical storm centered several hundred miles northeast of Puerto Rico. Slow strengthening is forecast and Hanna is expected to reach hurricane intensity within a day or two.
What makes Hanna really interesting, though, is its forecast track. Initially, like most well-behaved tropical storms in this part of the Atlantic, it’s expected to track toward the west-northwest. After that, however, woo-hoo! A turn toward the southwest–not the more typical pivot to the northeast–if forecast. This is because a grossly overweight high pressure center will thwart Hanna’s climatological instinct to make a run for it into the open waters of the Atlantic.
But wait. There’s more. What happens after that could get even funkier. There are at least a couple of models suggesting Hanna could churn westward through the Straits of Florida in about a week or so. Another model drives the storm (hurricane?) directly south into the Antilles. Still other models show Hanna doing a slow orbit east of the Bahamas.
Neat stuff if you’re a weather geek. Or write novels about hurricanes.
Photo: This is a NOAA visible image of Tropical Storm Hanna early this morning (August 29, 2008).