[FINAL UPDATE: I’ve just finished a new post with all the latest on Dean. … Thanks for the links, Glenn and Hugh! … P.S. If anyone wants to bookmark, or link to, a stable URL that will always point to my most recent Dean-related posts, you can use my 2007 Hurricane Season category.]
[UPDATE, 10:47 PM: I missed it till just now, but the NHC issued a special 9:30 PM update further bumping Dean’s official top wind speed to 145 mph. I thought it was stronger than 135 mph. … The forecast as of 5:00 PM predicted that it would max out at 150 mph, two days from now. What will the 11:00 PM discussion predict? The NHC is usually pretty conservative when predicting further intensification of major hurricanes, so I sort of doubt they’ll bring it to Cat. 5 status (156+ mph) in the forecast; they might call for it to max out at 155, followed by “fluctuations in intensity.” But that’s just a guess. … Anyway, the full 11pm advisory, with discussion, should be out any minute now. I’ll discuss it in a new post above.]
[UPDATE, 8:01 PM: Dean has been bumped to a Category 4 hurricane as of the 8pm intermediate advisory, with 135 mph winds. The NHC’s decision is apparently based on preliminary recon data. Looking at the satellite, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s a further “bump” at 11:00 PM, based on additional recon data and additional strengthening over the next three hours — but as always, take my opinions with a grain of salt. Dammit, Jim, I’m a law clerk, not a meteorologist!]
On the satellite loop, Dean really looks like he’s getting his act together. See here, too. The hurricane hunter aircraft isn’t expected to arrive until 8:00 PM, which is when the next intermediate advisory from the NHC is due out, so I assume they won’t have any new recon data in time for the advisory, and thus will probably hold off on any major intensity changes until 11:00 PM. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a significant bump in strength then — or even perhaps in an “update” in between 8 and 11, if the data justifies it. Nor would I be surprised to wake up tomorrow and find out that Dean went through a rapid deepening cycle overnight and is officially a monster by morning. Check out the visible shot at sunset:
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m impressed with the progress Dean has made today; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s starting to justify the hype. But the hurricane has not yet made direct contact with the shear field of the upper low in its path. As the distance closes, that should happen tomorrow, unless the low speeds up, Dean slows down, or both. Once these features match speeds, then there will no longer be much likelihood of shear interfering with the storm. In that case, Jamaica will really take a terrible hit. …
Bottom line here: deadly menace to Jamaica. Locals have one nice day to prepare. On Sunday it will start to get stormy. Sunday night, well, pray DeanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s core slips a bit north or south of the island.