Hurricane Center Looks To Next Storm

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Activity at the National Hurricane Center in Miami has slowed down and meteorologists are looking ahead to Hanna. Gustav and its 110-mph winds touched land near the city of Cocodrie, La., southwest of New Orleans, on Monday. The hurricane could drop up to a foot of rain in some areas.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

And NPR's Jon Hamilton is at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Jon, how are things there? Are they closing down now that Gustav has made landfall?

JON HAMILTON: Well, they're sort of wrapping up. I mean once the storm makes landfall here then they sort of move on to the next thing. So, you have a lot of media around, but in fact the meteorologists are just checking their figures and sort winding down.

CHADWICK: And what details do you have on the storm? How much rain is expected from the hurricane?

HAMILTON: Well, the hurricane could drop up to a foot of rain in some areas. It really depends precisely where you are. Especially areas that are to the east and north of the center of the storm - could get very very heavy rainfall.

CHADWICK: There have been, kind of, expectations that the storm would be as big, maybe as Katrina, maybe even bigger and a lot of very scary talk from New Orleans fears prompting evacuations. What is the difference between hurricanes Gustav and Katrina?

HAMILTON: Well, Katrina, you know, was a category five storm when it was in the Gulf of Mexico. It spun up to a category five and gradually decreased a little bit, but it had - it was so big and it had so much momentum that it was just a much bigger deal.

Now, remember that a couple of days ago, Gustav, when it was approaching Cuba was a category four storm, it was never as big across, it was maybe half the size across that Katrina was. But it was approaching Cuba, and the thought was that when it got into the Gulf of Mexico, it could become as big as Katrina, but that didn't happen.

CHADWICK: So, it's the seventh named storm of the season. Hannah is coming behind it, already the eighth. And there are more reports today of new storms developing in the Atlantic. What do you know about these other kind of big hurricane - potential hurricanes, I guess, at this point?

HAMILTON: Yeah, well you asked what people were doing here, and in fact a number of the meteorologists here are already looking to the next storm, which is of course Hannah. It's still a tropical storm, but the most recent update on it shows that it now has sustained winds of 60 miles an hour, which is getting it - approaching hurricane territory. And in fact, it is expected to become a hurricane sometime, a few days from now. And at the moment, the track shows that it will hit somewhere between, you know, Georgia and South Carolina up along that part of the coast.

CHADWICK: But, it looks like a US landfall for that storm?

HAMILTON: It does look like a US landfall for that storm. It's very hard to tell right now though, because the storm is moving barely at all, and those are the hardest storms to forecast, once they get a direction it's a lot easier to say.

CHADWICK: And there is some other storm beginning to develop behind Hannah.

HAMILTON: Indeed, if you look - the way storms usually work at this time of the year, is you get waves that come off the coast of Africa and then they cross over Cape Verde, and work their way west here. And if you look on the map of storm disturbances, there are three or four different places on the satellite images that are looking like they could, each of them, become a storm. So this season may not be over.

CHADWICK: NPR's Jon Hamilton at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Thank you, Jon.

HAMILTON: You're welcome.

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