Much as we expected, the Gulf/Western Caribbean Hurricane has been much more active this year, first spawning a couple of weak Cat One storms and now Keith, a quintessential horror story of a storm. What makes Keith such a frightening prospect is the lack of steering currents which has had it barely drifting at 2kts for the last 48 hours.
Keith as of 10-01-00, 0800
Slow moving storms like this offer up the worst possible scenario because of the long period of time in which the worst of the effects are experienced. It's one thing to have hurricane conditions for 6 hours, something else again for hurricane conditions to last 12 hours or more.
The coastal Yucatan Peninsula just south of Cozumel has been bearing the brunt of the storm now for close to 24 hours. This is likely a tragedy of major proportions for local residents as staggering rainfall rates are generated by the barely moving storm. Combined with 100+kt. winds for duration periods exceeding 12 hours, the effects on people as well as property will be awesome. Slow moving storms like this present the worst case scenario for hurricanes.
The prognosis for Keith is a northerly track, taking it up the Yucatan coast line and over Cozumel. As of this writing the eye is about to go ashore, and gradual weakening will occur. Despite this, the burgeoning tourist resort of Cancun will still be hit hard.
All Marine interests on the CONUS Gulf coast should pay close attention to this storm. It will likely be Tuesday or Wednesday before Keith emerges into the Gulf. The problem here is that at this point, the storm's track is basically unpredictable. If the storm's northerly movement remains as slow as it is, it will emerge off the Yucatan coastline greatly weakened. Current predictions have it coming off land still at hurricane force. Once in the Gulf, it is expected to rapidly regain strength. Where it goes after that is anyone's guess, but as of the moment, the central Gulf appears to be the most likely target.
Once entering the Gulf. the forward speed is expected to increase. This yields a probable CONUS landfall window of around Friday-Saturday. Boat owners throughout the Gulf region now have plenty of advance warning to get prepared.
Joyce The Cape Verde season threw little at us this year, but TS Joyce, now situated near Trinidad, which nearly died out yesterday, is again resuming strength as it enters a somewhat more favorable area. Joyce took on more northwesterly course, just enough to keep her from slamming into S. America. Her current direction is slightly north of west and, as with Keith, it's course over the next few days remains uncertain.
Despite the fact that the official hurricane season is nearly a close, this season is not yet over by any means. Yet another western Caribbean storm could develop in the wake of Keith, as conditions remain highly favorable for storm development.
Keith Reaches Category 4 Status
140MPH Winds as of 0600
by David Pascoe
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