A reconnaissance plane just entered the eye of frances. A drop measured a minimum pressure of 940 mb...and an extrapolated pressure of 938 mb with a peak wind of 144 knots at 700 mb. the stepped frequency microwave radiometer...sfmr...on board of the noaa p-3 plane just measured 118 knots surface winds. High resolution satellite images indicate that the cloud pattern has improved since this morning...the eye remains large and distinct and the outflow is excellent in all quadrants. T-numbers have reached 6.5 on the dvorak scale. Initial intensity has been increased to 120 knots...making frances a solid category four on the saffir/simpson hurricane scale. Since the hurricane is already this strong...some fluctuations in intensity are expected during the next 3 to 4 days...and those fluctuations will be controlled in part by eyewall replacement cycles. We will describe them as they occur since there is no skill in forecasting such processes. nevertherless...frances is expected to reach the u.s. Coast as a major hurricane.
Satellite and reconnaissance fixes indicate that the hurricane is moving toward the west or 280 degrees at 15 knots. as indicated previously... During the the first 2 to 3 days...the hurricane will be moving between the west and west-northwest steered by a strong subtropical ridge. Thereafter...the intensity of the ridge varies with the different models and the forecast becomes uncertain. however...all models bring the hurricane toward the southeast coast of the united states in tracks ranging from southern florida northward to the carolinas....with a gradual decrease in forward speed. The official forecast is close to the global model consensus which...in fact...has shifted southward a little bit taking into consideration the new nogaps and gfdn runs. The florida state university superensemble has also shifted a little bit southward.