Now a Category 4 Hurricane, Gustav Expected to Strengthen Further as it Takes Aim on the US Gulf Coast
At 5 PM EDT (2100Z), The National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Watch for the northern Gulf Coast from east of High Island, Texas eastward to the Alabama-Florida border, including the city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch has also been issued along the Florida Panhandle coast from east of the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Ochlockonee River.
The NHC Public Advisory continues: "At 500 PM EDT (2100Z), the eye of Hurricane Gustav was located near latitude 22.1 north...longitude 82.9 west or about 130 miles...210 km...east-northeast of the western tip of Cuba and about 80 miles...135 km...south-southwest of Havana, Cuba. Do not venture outside during the passage of the eye...since winds will soon rapidly increase as eyewall again passes. The eye is also currently centered about 620 miles...1000 km...southeast of the north-central Gulf of Mexico coast.
"Gustav is moving toward the northwest near 15 mph...24 km/hr...and this general motion is expected to continue during the next couple of days. On this track, the center of Gustav will cross western Cuba tonight...then emerge over the southern Gulf of Mexico early on Sunday...and reach the northern Gulf on Monday.
"Data from an Air Force reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 150 mph...240 km/hr...with higher gusts. Gustav is an extremely dangerous category four hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Some fluctuations with an overall slight strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours...and Gustav could reach category five intensity during this period. Gustav is forecast to remain a major hurricane through landfall along the northern Gulf Coast.
"Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 70 miles...110 km...from the center...and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles...280 km.
"The minimum central pressure recently reported by the reconnaissance aircraft was 942 mb...27.82 inches.
"Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are possible over Florida Keys and extreme southern Florida. Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches are possible over the Cayman Islands. Isolated tornadoes are possible tonight over the Florida Keys and the southern Florida peninsula."
WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center in Miami on Heightened Alert
National and International Communications directly to us at NHC Miami will be on 14.325 MHz (Hurricane Watch Net HF frequency). We are also on Amateur Radio VoIP using EchoLink Conference "WX-Talk" and on IRLP (linked VHF/UHF Repeater system) using IRLP Node 9219. Rob Macedo, KD1CY, is the VoIP Hurricane Net Manager.
The Office of Emergency Management, FEMA, local emergency operation centers, etc may have local VHF/UHF frequencies for their own emergency communications between local agencies and shelters, etc. Local hams need to check with their local OEM or RACES officials to coordinate their local frequencies and support assignments.
We also have more information on our Web site, including an online form for submitting Hurricane Reports (non-emergency). All the NWS stations in the affected area should have a ham station and operator on standby in case they lose conventional communications, which is exactly what happened during Katrina.