As of 11:00 PM, the National Hurricane Center has bumped Dean’s winds up to 50 mph — and the discussion says this estimate is “possibly conservative.” It also notes that the shear around Dean is “beginning to decrease,” so I think it’s fair to say that, after struggling to hold itself together this afternoon, Dean has now begun its intensification phase. The official forecast brings it to Category 3 status in five days — at which time the forecast track has it just offshore of Hispaniola. But of course, that’s subject to change. The computer models continue to be all over the map, as would be expected for a storm this far out at sea. The intensity models also disagree about just how fast it will intensify. The best advice is to continue to stay tuned.
Meanwhile, also at 11:00 PM, the NHC has designated Tropical Depression Five in the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to become Tropical Storm Erin tomorrow, then make landfall along the Texas coast on Thursday. Tropical Storm Watches have been issued from Freeport, Texas south to Rio San Fernando, Mexico. Here’s a look at the track models and intensity models for it.
Last but not least, Category 2 Hurricane Flossie is passing due south of Hawaii as we speak: