SOUTH PADRE ISLAND. Islanders began preparing for Hurricane Dean today with some plywood and shutters going up. For the third or fourth day straight, most models indicated the lower Texas and upper Mexico coast as the likely target after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula. So I started some preparations, had the truck looked at (what the heck is that noise?), and got ready for plywood duty.
While is seems inevitable that the hurricane would hit us squarely in the face, it should be said that Dean is several thousand miles away – 500 miles east of Puerto Rico. These storms get so large they basically make their own weather and go where they want to go, like the biggest Brahma bull in the barn. Even the experts say that predicting any tropical cyclone over 72 hours is highly uncertain to almost be meaningless (sorry, Town Emergency Team). Here’s why:
As indicated in the attached graphic at the top, an upper level low is circulating over Florida and the Bahamas. Since cyclones spin anti-clockwise, the upper low will prevent Dean from moving much to the north because of its spin that would push back on it. This low is predicted to remain about the same force and make a parallel track to the west, just like Dean. So no change in the upper level low in relation to Dean as they both move, Dean will continue marching a little north of due west.
Ah, but what happens is Dean slows or the upper low slows, or the upper low moves way in front of Dean? That could result in major changes to the forecast track. Indeed one of the best hurricane models called GDFL predicted that Dean would fall behind the upper low; due to the spinning action, Dean would be shot right to New Orleans like a circus clown out of a cannon.
What happens if Dean weakens over the Yucatan and the ULL collides with it, for some reason or other? This could result in a “super-cane” such as the move and the book, The Perfect Storm. Such a massive storm would probably be blown towards Florida by the subtropical jet. But we can only surmise and use the best current predictions we have. I’ll update this later tonight.