Gustav, knocked back to tropical storm strength by its overnight encounter with the mountains of southwestern Haiti, is expected to regain its hurricane status in the next 48 hours and is beginning to look like a threat to Louisiana.
Hurricane warnings are up this morning for southeastern Cuba, including the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay. A hurricane watch is up for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say their models have Gustav strengthening over the extremely warm waters south of Cuba in the next few days, then turning northwestward into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday. The numbers suggest Gustav would likely become a Cat. 3 "major" hurricane, with top sustained winds of at least 111 mph. And forecasters note that two of their models show it getting even stronger than that.
The storm's current forecast track takes it ashore on Monday anywhere from the Florida panhandle to southeastern Texas. But the center of the "cone of uncertainty" is aimed at southeastern Louisiana.
Needless to say, that kind of a storm, and that sort of trajectory has got to be worrying New Orleans, and all of the folks along the Louisiana coast, as we approach the third anniversary of Katrina's landfall there. Oil traders are also betting on damage to the offshore oil fields.