The 2 p.m. EDT christening Monday of Tropical Storm Gustav by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) came well after cash trading — in which all but a few western points fell — had been completed. But it got the attention of Nymex traders who, after taking the September futures contract to a low of $7.617, had it closing out the day’s regular session at $7.825, down 1.8 cents, following the Gustav news.

Nearly all the cash losses were in double digits, ranging from a little less than a nickel to a little more than 90 cents. Nearly half a dozen points in the West were flat to a little more than 30 cents higher.

The tropical wave that had been approaching the Lesser Antilles as last week ended developed into a tropical depression during the weekend and then further strengthened into Gustav Monday. At least two weather analysts gave it a chance of reaching the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week.

Earlier Monday NHC had expected Gustav to cross the southwestern peninsula of Haiti and then the eastern end of Cuba, which would leave it with a clear shot from there to the gap between the western end of Cuba and the southern tip of Florida’s peninsula into the warm waters of the Gulf, where restrengthening would be a near-certainty. But in a 5 p.m. EDT update the agency’s “five-day cone” of projected tracking had the storm entering Cuba near its eastern end and staying overland for nearly the entire length of the island nation. Such a journey over Cuba’s mountainous terrain would take a lot of fight out of the storm.

However, WxRisk said Monday morning the new 12Z GFDL hurricane model, on which many private forecasting companies rely heavily, signals that Gustav’s west-northwest tracking will take it through the Jamaica-Cuba gap and across far western Cuba, and places it in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico at approximately 85W/25N Friday afternoon or evening. “At that point the system is a Category One [or] borderline Two hurricane,” WxRisk said.

At 5 p.m. EDT Gustav’s center was about 180 miles south-southeast of Port au Prince, Haiti, NHC said. It was moving toward the northwest at nearly 14 mph, with NHC expecting a gradual decrease in forward speed over the next day or two. Maximum sustained winds were about 60 mph (74 mph is required for a Category One hurricane).

In what it said was its final update on Tropical Depression Fay, NHC said the storm was moving slowly through east-central Mississippi Monday morning, causing flash flood watches for parts of Alabama, Mississippi, eastern Louisiana and the western Florida Panhandle. Flood warning were in effect for sections of northern Florida and southern Georgia.

No production shut-ins or offshore evacuations related to Fay were reported.

Fay’s heavy rains are causing a substantial amount of air conditioning load destruction in much of the Deep South, where temperatures should be well below average Tuesday, according to The Weather Channel (TWC). However, the region’s Texas end is seeing normal summer highs in the 90s.

It will be getting hotter in the Midwest and cooler in the Northeast Tuesday, but neither area will have much cooling load to satisfy as both temperature trends will have most highs reaching only the general vicinity of 80.

Peak temperatures in the West are expected to range from the 50s in portions of the Cascades and Glacier Park to somewhat over 100 in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, TWC said. “Idaho and Montana will be much cooler than [Monday] with maxima only in the 60s and 70s. California’s Central Valley will bake in the mid to upper 90s with some spots hitting 100.”

Another eight drilling rigs were added to the search for natural gas in the U.S. during the week ending Aug. 22, boosting the total to 1,594, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count ( Two rigs called it quits in the Gulf of Mexico, but that was more than offset by the onshore count rising by 10, Baker Hughes said. Its latest tally is up 3% from a month ago and 7% higher than the year-ago level.

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