We are starting to get the first rains of Hanna here in Maryland where I live. It shouldn;t be too bad for us here…we definitely need the rain and with all the kids soccer games cancelled, there won’t be any running around this weekend which is nice.

IKE is still the storm to watch. It is currently forecast to skirt south of Florida right now, and will move into the Gulf and possibly threaten the same area as Gustav. So, be sure and keep an eye out for this one as it could be a major threat. The latest update from WeatherBug Meteorologists is below….

Ike Threatening the Bahamas as a Category 3 Storm; Latest Tracks Shift South, Increasing Threat For Ike To Become Major Gulf Coast Hurricane

A loop of the infrared satellite images clearly shows Ike beginning to organize and become more symmetric. While the eye is no longer visible this morning, convection is beginning to become more widespread on the eastern part of the storm. In the last few hours, there has been a definite jog to the southwest with the storm and now it appears to be on a west-southwest course.

A mid-level ridge extends from near Bermuda southwest to between Ike and Hanna that is helping to guide Ike on a southwesterly journey. This puts the storm in line to where the models have Ike going over the next 24 to 36 hours. The ridge should budge northward, allowing Ike to sustain a more westerly track.

The storm had been caught up in a sheared environment. Water vapor imagery shows not as much shear this morning. Very little weakening is expected with the storm over the next few days.

The general consensus with the forecast model tracks this morning now shift the track of Ike south of Florida while becoming a threat to Cuba, and then emerging into the Gulf of Mexico and becoming a threat for the Gulf Coast.

One scenario that is possible would be for Ike to impact Cuba in two to three days and weaken before emerging into the Gulf of Mexico in four days as a weaker storm. However, if very little of the circulation makes it onshore, Ike would still have access to the warm waters and then when Ike curves northwest into the Gulf of Mexico, it would be a stronger storm system heading towards the Gulf Coast.

Another possibility would be for Ike to stay fully in the open waters between Florida and Cuba in two to three days and then emerge into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico in four days. If this happens, the storm could be even stronger heading into the Gulf of Mexico. The threat for landfall in the Gulf would be days away, and locations from the panhandle of Florida to the Texas coast would have to be on high alert for a possible impact from Ike.

Either way, Ike will be a significant threat that will need to be watched throughout the weekend and early next week.

At 5 a.m., Ike was located at 22.4N, 67.1W or 265 miles east-northeast of Grand Turk Island. Central pressure was measured at 962mb. Peak winds are estimated to be 115 mph with gusts to 140 mph.

The next complete technical discussion will be issued around 5 p.m. EDT.

For complete WeatherBug coverage of Ike, please refer to: http://weather.weatherbug.com/hurricanes/hurricane-Ike-2008.html

Chad Merrill, WeatherBug Meteorologist