Weekend forecast remains on track

Plus, new information on Hurricane Joaquin


DETROIT – A new update just issued by the National Hurricane Center indicates that Hurricane Joaquin has now strengthened to Category 4 status, with 140 mph sustained wind near the center…which is 70 miles south-southeast of San Salvador in the Bahamas. Remember that tropical storm conditions (torrential rain and 40+ mph wind) extend 140 miles out from the center, so this storm is impacting a number of islands in the Bahamas group.

The storm's forecast remains highly complex and highly uncertain as a result of a very unusual weather pattern which, in this case, involves a large upper level low pressure area over the southeastern United States. Think about it: when's the last time I told you that I have almost no idea where a hurricane will be in two or three days? The last time I remember something like this (and it's a very vivid memory) was Hurricane Elena back in 1985…that storm moved northwestward across Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico…heading right at New Orleans.

Then, in the central Gulf, it abruptly turned east and headed right toward Florida.

After stalling for a day or two only sixty miles off of Cedar Key, Florida, Elena then suddenly started moving back toward the northwest, and finally made landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi as a Category 3 storm. Crazy! At one point or another during Elena's existence, virtually every U.S. coastline along the Gulf of Mexico was under some sort of watch, warning, or advisory. Hurricane Joaquin is giving meteorologists all across the nation a similar headache. The steering currents aloft are complicated, and the hurricane's movement as a result of these currents is widely disagreed upon by the computer models…even this afternoon.

Will Joaquin be absorbed by the upper low and move with it, or will it just be steered by the circulating wind around the upper low? Only time will tell.

Fortunately, a NOAA G-IV jet is being sent out frequently to collect data about the overall upper air environment around the storm, and the National Weather Service is launching extra weather balloons to do the same. I hope that our computer models start showing some agreement over the next day or so. Trust me…this is as frustrating for me as it is for you.

Joaquin will push some moisture back our way this weekend, but how much moisture actually gets here and creates rain is dependent upon how far west the hurricane travels, so stay tuned. But don't expect any rain in the short term. Skies will be mostly clear tonight, with lows in the low 40s (5° Celsius for our Canadian neighbors). Northeast wind at 10 to 15 mph.

Mostly sunny on Friday, and still breezy, with highs near 60° (16° Celsius). Northeast wind at 15 to 20 mph, with higher gusts. Friday's sunrise is at 7:31 AM, and Friday's sunset is at 7:14 PM.

Increasing clouds Friday night, with lows in the low 40s (5° Celsius).

Even if we start Saturday with a bit of sun, the day should end up mostly cloudy overall. There's still a chance for some showers to develop by mid-to-late afternoon, but the extent and timing is highly dependent upon east coast developments with Hurricane Joaquin. Highs in the mid to upper 50s, and it's going to be yet another breezy day.

Showers are more likely Saturday night, with lows in the upper 40s (9° Celsius).

Some models give us numerous showers on Sunday (again, depending upon Joaquin), while other models significantly diminish our shower chance. I'll try to get more definitive on this tomorrow. Highs in the low 60s (16° Celsius).

Mostly cloudy with a shower possible Sunday night, and lows near 50° (10° Celsius).

Monday still carries the same uncertainty due to Joaquin, but right now I'd plan on a mostly cloudy day and at least the chance for a few showers. Highs in the low to mid 60s (17° Celsius).

We finally get back to some nice weather on Tuesday, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid 60s (18° Celsius).


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