Posted: 5:00 pm Friday, September 22nd, 2017
By Kirk Mellish
BUT WE CAN NOT RULE OUT CLOSE CALL WITH COAST FIRST, YET
A ragged eye has re-appeared during the past several hours, but
overall the satellite presentation of Maria has not changed much
during the past several hours. The initial intensity is therefore
held at 110 kt pending data new data from an ongoing NOAA research
mission and an upcoming Air Force Reserve flight. According to
various analyses, Maria is under the influence of 20 kt of
shear from the southwest, which has apparently eroded the eyewall a
bit on that side of the storm. This shear may abate some in about
24 hours, although Maria will also be moving over an area of
gradually lowering oceanic heat content. Maria’s intensity is
therefore only expected to decrease very gradually during the next
48 hours. After that time, the shear is expected to pick up again,
and Maria will be moving over the cold wake left behind by Jose.
As a result, a steadier weakening should ensue on days 3 through 5.
The NHC intensity forecast remains closest to the ICON intensity
consensus and is relatively unchanged from the previous advisory.
Maria is turning around the southwestern periphery of a mid-level
high centered south of Bermuda, and the initial motion estimate is
335/8 kt. The hurricane should turn northward by 36 hours when it
moves between the high and a developing cut-off low near the U.S.
Gulf coast, and that northward motion, with some east-west wiggles,
is likely to continue through day 5. The new track models have
shifted significantly westward on this cycle, leaving the
interpolated version of the previous forecast (OFCI) by itself on
the eastern edge of the guidance suite. Oddly enough, the ECMWF
model went from being on the west side of the guidance envelope to
the east side, so the westward shift of the new NHC forecast on
days 3 through 5 only goes as far as that model and the TVCN
There is still a chance, although unlikely, that the core of Maria would come ashore or close to North Carolina or Southern New England sometime next week as a weaker storm.
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