TS Dean has maintained its intensity of 45 knots overnight. Satellites from around 0900Z indicate that Dean is trying to wrap convection around an “eye”-like structure, which may in time develop into a true eye. The system has taken on the classic recognizable “comma” shape of a tropical cyclone, and in the face of low shear, should develop into a symmetrical and photogenic hurricane. Dean is in very low shear now, having escaped the 20kt that limited its intensification previously. This is good for development. However, since it’s happening during the day, Dean’s ability to utilize this may be limited. We’ll have to see.
NHC’s forecast has taken a westward shift, in line with what the computers are indicating. As I said in my previous blogs, I am on board with a Caribbean –> Gulf storm and do not intend to change this prediction unless the ridge is eroded too much for it to happen.
The GFDL and HWRF, our two tropical cyclone-specific models, are both in unfortunate agreement in their 00Z runs of taking Dean to a borderline Cat 3/Cat 4 in the central Caribbean and sending it south of Hispaniola. If this pans out, there is a chance that he will enter the Gulf as a Cat 3 or Cat 4 without ever having hit a large landmass.
I’m not happy about this. In such a scenario, we’d have to hope for shear towards landfall, because the very hottest Gulf waters are right offshore.
Closer to home, TD5 has formed in the Gulf, although according to the NHC it seems to have some problems getting together. Well, it’s a new system. That’s what usually happens. Quite honestly, in my opinion, TD5 could landfall in Texas as anything from a depression to (if conditions are perfect and it takes advantage) a low-end Category 1 hurricane. The NHC is forecasting a 40kt landfall. I think that, if TD5 gets organized in time, it has the potential for rapid development, and this forecast could be too low. With the depression, everything comes down to the timing of its organizing.