Statement as of 5:00 PM EDT on September 01, 2004
an Air Force reconnaissance plane flew again in the eye of Francesand estimated a minimum pressure of 938 mb. The cloud tops have
warmed but the plane measured 131 knots at flight level. The
initial intensity is kept at 120 knots. The official intensity
forecast calls for the possibility of additional strengthening
during the next day or two as indicated by the SHIPS model...but
most likely the hurricane will go through intensity fluctuations
during eyewall replacement cycles. If fact...the 1719z recon fix
reported a double eyewall suggesting that another of these
processes is taking place. The hurricane is forecast to reach the
U.S. Coast as a major hurricane.
Data from the stepped frequency microwave radiometer...sfmr...onboard the NOAA p3 aircraft were used to decrease the wind radii
estimates in the northwest quadrant. Because the NW wind radii are
smaller than previously analyzed...the issuance of a Hurricane
Watch for the Florida East Coast can be delayed a little.
Frances is moving toward the west-northwest or 290 degrees at 13knots around the periphery of the subtropical ridge. How far westthe hurricane will go will depend on the future strength of theridge and that varies from model to model. The GFS and the GFDL consistently weaken the ridge and turn the hurricane northwestwardearlier than any other models. Because the GFS and GFDL models arevery reliable...I was tempted to shift the track a little bit tothe north and east at this time. However...the Florida State University super-ensemble and the conu consensus...which consistsof the average of the GFDL...GFDN...GFS...NOGAPS and UKMETmodels...bring the hurricane on a west-northwest track acrossFlorida. Therefore...I am not ready to make the northward shift atthis time and the official forecast remains as in the previousadvisory...very close to the consensus and basically on top of theFSU super-ensemble.