Isaac lashing the Lesser Antilles; TD 10 forms

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:06 PM GMT on August 22, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac is lashing the entire Lesser Antilles chain of islands with heavy rains this morning, and the winds will be on the increase this afternoon as the storm heads west at 19 mph. Isaac is still a weak and disorganized tropical storm, but that is changing. The Hurricane Hunters are in the storm, and have thus far found no increase in the storm's top surface winds, which remain near 45 mph. In their 7:44 am EDT center fix, an Air Force Reserve aircraft measured a rather unimpressive center pressure of 1007 mb, and top winds at their 1000 foot flight altitude of 56 mph. The plane did not observe an eyewall trying to form, and recent microwave satellite images also show no signs of an eyewall forming. A large area of dry air to the north of the storm, as seen on water vapor satellite loops, continues to interfere with development, and it is unlikely Isaac will become a hurricane today. Satellite loops, however, show that Isaac has developed a Central Dense Overcast (CDO) of high cirrus clouds, the hallmark of a developing storm. These clouds have very cold cloud tops, indicating that the updrafts creating them are quite strong. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows that upper-level outflow is becoming well-established to the southwest and northwest, but outflow is restricted on the southeast side. A large clump of heavy thunderstorms several hundred miles southeast of the center continues to compete for moisture, and is interfering with the low level inflow and upper level outflow of the storm. The intensification rate of Isaac will increase if the storm is able to integrate this clump of heavy thunderstorms into its circulation, which satellite loops this morning suggest is now beginning to happen. Radar imagery from Barbados and Martinique show plenty of heavy rain showers, mostly on the south side of Isaac where it is moister, but little spiral banding. Hurricane hunter missions are scheduled for Isaac every six hours, and a NOAA hurricane hunter research aircraft will also be in the storm, with missions scheduled every 12 hours. The NOAA jet is first scheduled to fly into the storm on Thursday afternoon, to do a large-scale dropsonde mission to aid model forecasts.


Figure 1. Morning radar image of Isaac taken from the Barbados radar at 10:15 am EDT. Image credit: Barbados Weather Service.

Intensity forecast for Isaac
The latest 8 am EDT run of the SHIPS model shows that wind shear is moderate, 10 - 15 knots, but is expected to relax by this evening to a low 5 - 10 knots. Ocean temperatures have increased to a very warm 29°C, and the storm is now over waters with a high total heat content. The lowering wind shear and warm waters should allow the storm to wall off the dry air that has been interfering with development, and also allow the storm to integrate the thunderstorm clump on its southeast side that has been interfering with low level inflow and upper level outflow. It will take some time for the increase in organization to result in an increase in Isaac's winds, and I still expect top winds of 45 - 60 mph in the Lesser Antilles Islands this evening when the core of the storm moves through. On Thursday, when Isaac will be in the Eastern Caribbean, conditions should be favorable enough to allow steady strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane. The 11 am EDT wind probability forecast from NHC predicted a 47% chance that Isaac will become a hurricane by Friday morning, and a 16% chance it will be a Category 2 or stronger hurricane then. This is a reduction in the odds given in the 5 am advisory.

Impact of Isaac on the Islands
The entire Lesser Antilles Islands chain will have a three-day period of heavy weather Wednesday through Friday. Sustained tropical storm-force winds extend out about 50 miles to the north of the center and 30 miles to the south, so an 80-mile wide swath of the Lesser Antilles will potentially see tropical storm-force winds of 45 - 60 mph this Wednesday evening. Guadaloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Montserrat, and St. Kitts and Nevis at highest risk of these winds.

Winds in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands will likely rise above tropical storm force on Thursday morning, and the south coast of Puerto Rico should see tropical storm-force winds by Thursday afternoon. The San Juan airport may be able to stay open Thursday afternoon and evening, but I think it is more likely they will be forced to shut down.

On Thursday night, heavy rains and tropical storm-force winds should arrive on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, and all airports in the D.R. will probably be closed on Friday. Rainfall amounts of 8 - 12 inches will likely affect the Dominican Republic Thursday through Saturday, creating dangerous flash floods and mudslides.

Isaac is potentially a very dangerous storm for Haiti, where 400,000 people still live outside underneath tarps in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. Heavy rains from Isaac will begin on Friday morning in Haiti, and last through Sunday. Rainfall amounts of 8 - 12 inches are possible, which will be capable of causing extreme flooding on the vegetation-denuded slopes of Haiti. It will be a major challenge to keep those Haitians living outside safe, if rainfall amounts of 5 - 10 inches occur.

Impact on Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas
Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas are all at high risk of receiving hurricane conditions from Isaac. The latest set of 06Z (2 am EDT) model runs for Isaac are fairly unified for the coming three days, showing a westward track to a point on the south coast of Hispaniola. All of the models then predict a more west-northwest track across the island and into eastern Cuba, as Isaac responds to a trough of low pressure over the Southeast U.S. Most of the models then predict a path for Isaac along the spine of Cuba, then into the Florida Straits off the coast of Miami by five days from now. A notable exception is our best-performing model, the ECMWF, which keeps Isaac just south of Cuba, and takes the storm more to the west between Jamaica and Cuba on Saturday, then into the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba by Monday. However, this model is keeping Isaac weaker than the other models, and thus predicts the storm will have a weaker response to the trough of low pressure over the Southeast U.S. If the official NHC intensity forecast is right and Isaac becomes a hurricane on Thursday, the more southerly track of the ECMWF is not going to verify, and Isaac will spend considerable time over Cuba on Saturday and Sunday. Where Isaac pops off the coast of Cuba will be critical in determining its future path and intensity. Some models predict a more easterly exit point, allowing Isaac to move up the east coast of Florida, and potentially make landfall in the Southeast U.S. The latest 06Z GFS model run predicts a more westerly track, which would potentially allow Isaac to move up the west coast of Florida towards Tampa. Keep in mind that the average error in a 5-day forecast is 260 miles. The two most recent runs of the GFS model, at 00Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT), gave positions for Isaac that were about 250 miles apart--the earlier run putting the center near West Palm Beach, and the more recent run giving a location between Key West and Havana, Cuba. While passage over the high mountains of Hispaniola and then Cuba will substantially disrupt Isaac and probably reduce it below hurricane strength, the storm is quite large, and should be able to re-intensify once it emerges over the Florida Straits. Waters will be very warm, near 30°C, wind shear is predicted to be light, and forecasts of the upper-level winds show the possibility of an upper-level outflow pattern very favorable for intensification. If Isaac spends a day over water, that should be enough time for it to intensify into a Category 1 hurricane, and if the storm takes a longer 2-day track over water up either the east or west coast of Florida, a Category 2 or stronger storm is possible.

Isaac is a threat to affect Tampa during the Republican National Convention, August 27 - 30, and the official NHC forecast now has Tampa in the 5-day cone of uncertainly. The latest 11 am EDT wind probability forecast from NHC gives Tampa a 9% chance of receiving tropical storm-force winds for the 24-hour period ending on the morning of first day of the convention (Monday). I blogged about the climatological chances of a hurricane causing an evacuation of Tampa during the convention in a post last week, putting the odds at 0.2%. I put the odds of an evacuation occurring during the convention in the current situation at 3%.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Tropical Depression Ten.

Tropical Depression Ten forms in the Eastern Atlantic
The large tropical wave in the Central Atlantic, midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands, has become Tropical Depression Ten. The depression has an impressive amount of spin and heavy thunderstorm activity, as seen on visible satellite loops, and should be Tropical Storm Joyce by Thursday. None of the models show that TD 10 will be a threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands.

Which model should you trust?
Wunderground provides a web page with computer model forecasts for many of the best-performing models used to predict hurricane tracks. So which is the best? Well, the best forecasts are made by combining the forecasts from three or more models into a "consensus" forecast. Over the past decade, NHC has greatly improved their forecasts by relying on consensus forecast models made using various combinations of the GFS, GFDL, NOGAPS, UKMET, HWRF, and ECMWF models. If you average together the track forecasts from these models, the NHC official forecast will rarely depart much from it, and the NHC forecast has been hard to beat over the past few years. The single best-performing model over the past two years has been the ECMWF (European Center model). The GFS model has been a close second. You can view 7-day ECMWF and 16-day GFS forecasts on our wundermap with the model layer turned on. Ten-day ECMWF forecasts are available from the ECMWF web site. The European Center does not permit public display of tropical storm positions from their hurricane tracking module of their model, so we are unable to put ECMWF forecasts on our computer model forecast page that plots positions from the other major models. As seen in Figure 3, the HWRF and GFDL were well behind the ECMWF and GFS in forecast accuracy in 2011, but were still respectable. The BAMM model did very well at 4 and 5-day forecasts. The UKMET, NOGAPS, and CMC models did quite poorly compared to the ECMWF, GFS, GFDL, and HWRF. For those interested in learning more about the models, NOAA has a great training video (updated for 2011.)


Figure 3. Skill of computer model forecasts of Atlantic named storms 2011, compared to a "no skill" model called "CLIPER5" that uses just climatology and persistence to make a hurricane track forecast (persistence=a storm will tend to keep going in the direction it's current going.) OFCL=Official NHC forecast; GFS=Global Forecast System model; GFDL=Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory model; HWRF=Hurricane Weather Research Forecasting model; NOGAPS=Navy Operational Global Prediction System model; UKMET=United Kingdom Met Office model; ECMWF=European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting model; TVCA=one of the consensus models that lends together several of the above models; CMC=Canadian Meteorological Center (GEM) model; BAMM=Beta Advection Model (Medium depth.) Image credit: National Hurricane Center 2011 verification report.

I'll have a new post this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting MississippiWx:


Radar doesn't really support that, but I'm not going to give you a definite answer since the center has been very jumpy/ill-defined.



i see 2 rotations on this...a weak rotation in the old CDO that is now passing the antilles, and a more defined one with little precipitation up in the NE side of the radar image.....
Apparently the NE side is the dominant one...

What is it with 2012 and false CDO/COC correlations?
These storms look all perfectly lined up and then they arent what they seem when the COC falls apart.....
I dont think its trade winds but what is it?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
Quoting heavyweatherwatcher:
"Fay flooded out the Big Bend area (including parts of my house near Tallahasee) and other parts of North Florida........We dodged a bullet in the Big Bend when She weakened in the Eastern Gulf and came ashore as a TS.......This one will be a nail biter for Florida."

Fay sat on Brevard county for days upon end... the Satellite Beach environs(South Central coast of Brevard)received 24" - 30"... we got over a foot at my place in Titusville- but 14 - 18 inches was very common... Titusville was "spared" another foot of rain because the CoC was right over us for two days...

Prodigious rainmaker...


Yea I live just north of you in extreme sw georgia. A big storm down there means a pretty strong one here. Opal 1995 is a prime example of what can happen in Georgia with big storms.
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Time: 17:40:00Z
Coordinates: 16.9167N 61.2833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 843.7 mb (~ 24.91 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,566 meters (~ 5,138 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 68° at 25 knots (From the ENE at ~ 28.7 mph)
Air Temp: 17.4°C* (~ 63.3°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 28 knots (~ 32.2 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 35 knots (~ 40.2 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 4 mm/hr (~ 0.16 in/hr)
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075


Seems NHC is forecasting Joyce by tonight...

I'm also a little leary of this forecast if something freaky happens with Isaac... wouldn't more west for Isaac = more west for Joyce too?
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The GFS shifted just a little to the right on the last run.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting floridaboy14:
CENTER OF ISAAC ABOUT TO MOVE THROUGH THE LEEWARD ISLANDS...
------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------

2:00 PM AST Wed Aug 22
Location: 15.8°N 60.2°W
Moving: W at 21 mph
Min pressure: 1006 mb
Max sustained: 45 mph

.1 degrees further south is 3 hours. mississippi, your original prediction of 15.7N was close :)


Lol. Well, it's just difficult to say right now. Recon is going to help us, hopefully.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Caribbean - Rainbow Loop
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Quoting jeffs713:

Predicting the future with the past that is almost completely different than the present.

Makes total sense to me.
It can be valid if upper air patterns are also used in selecting an analog. I, however, do agree that WAY to much 'it is here and so was _____' storm analogging gets thrown about.
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Quoting Patrap:


The way Isaac is shaping up right now, I say Isaac will be near hurricane strength by this time tomorrow. Those Caribbean waters are very warm.
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15.8 N center is jumping around north and south. the general motion is west and the HH should confirm this once they get there
Member Since: July 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1102
Quoting presslord:


Stormjunkie?!


No I like to have the models to better get a feeling of what the storm is going to do.

Asking if I am a storm junkie is like asking me if I want a big hurricane? I am an hour from the coast where I live. Why would I want it to come up here?
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TS Isaac is going to cross between dominica and guadaloupe those islands are going to get the core of the Tropical storm in the next hour
Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3029
Quoting Patrap:

Isaac is one HUGE system...but his organizational skills need improvement. Not saying I want him to though
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Tropical storm Isaac continues to churn towards the islands and, eventually, somewhere along the US coast.

Haiti is at particular risk...as several hundred thousand people there still live in open, unprotected areas as the result of the earthquake. Because of our previous involvement in Haiti, we are able to respond as needed. We are also working to do what we can to help in preparation efforts.

Our domestic response volunteers are right now fine tuning our response once Isaac hits the US coast. We are having daily conference calls to facilitate bringing our plans into focus. We expect to have everything nailed down by the end of the day Saturday...with our teams rolling to appropriate staging areas Saturday night.

People are going to suffer from Isaac. And we're going to help them.

As usual, your support is critical. It's difficult to imagine disaster before the fact. But we are encouraging you to try. Please help as you can. Unserved, under served and forgotten people will be counting on you. Seriously. With your help, we are able to serve those who fall through the cracks.

Financial contributions can be made using the PayPal button at our website: www.portlight.org

or by check made payable to:

Portlight Strategies, inc.

60 Fenwick Hall Allee #721

Johns Island SC 29455
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Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8898
Quoting SLU:
Based on low level cloud lines and Barbados radar imagery, it seems the center is reforming further south east of the previous location near 15n 58.5w. Let's wait to see what the RECON finds.



Radar doesn't really support that, but I'm not going to give you a definite answer since the center has been very jumpy/ill-defined.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
40 mph SURFACE winds found in NW part of Isaac.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
Quoting LargoFl:
more bad storms coming in off the gulf..grrrr


I live on a lake and I'm not sure it has ever been this full - at least not since the mid 1960's when my inlaws purchased one of the first lots.
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Quoting wolftribe2009:
Hey can anyone give me the links to forecast models such as the GFS and ECMWF? I can't seem to locate them.
Thanks


Stormjunkie?!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Take SW Blobby and it's inflow/outflow bands and move it NE over the center and you have one heck of a storm. As soon as it can work out the alignment issues it will take off fast.



Hey pulse, good to see ya. That is a big IF; but I do agree that if they can get together it would be trouble. I am not sure they will though.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
CENTER OF ISAAC ABOUT TO MOVE THROUGH THE LEEWARD ISLANDS...
------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------

2:00 PM AST Wed Aug 22
Location: 15.8°N 60.2°W
Moving: W at 21 mph
Min pressure: 1006 mb
Max sustained: 45 mph

.1 degrees further south is 3 hours. mississippi, your original prediction of 15.7N was close :)
Member Since: July 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1102
Quoting wolftribe2009:
Hey can anyone give me the links to forecast models such as the GFS and ECMWF? I can't seem to locate them.
Thanks

They are here on WU. Look at the models page.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5891
Quoting MississippiWx:
In case anyone was wondering, Ernesto lives on...



Half expecting him to move back across the US and redevelop in the north Atlantic.

I would love it if that happened and the NHC just renamed it Ernesto.
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what do you guys think about the ECMWF track. Jeff Masters posted on this Blog today that the single best-performing model over the past two years has been the ECMWF (European Center model). The GFS model has been a close
second.
Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
Quoting PalmBeachWeatherBoy:

1007 mb
0 hrs

Let the games begin!

And may the odds be ever in your favor! (sorry, just had to say that)
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Quoting presslord:


When ya look like that...ya don't have to be smart...
Unless the viewer is NTIY...

Quoting LargoFl:
Tampa is getting worried...............Tampa won't hesitate to pull the plug on the Republican National Convention next week if Tropical Storm Isaac threatens the Tampa Bay area as a major storm, mayor Bob Buckhorn told CNN this morning
I certainly don't blame them... this would be a real tourism nightmare for the city government...

You know, after you guys posted about the Debbie related flooding, I started thinking about the possibility of a similar scenario during the RNC... but I never thought it would be a real probability...

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716. SLU
Quoting gprxomstr:

Don't center reformations generally jump from South to North though??


It can reform anywhere. Usually near the deepest convection.
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 5367
FLZ049>052-230000-
/O.CON.KTBW.FA.A.0006.000000T0000Z-120823T0000Z/
/00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/
PASCO-PINELLAS-HILLSBOROUGH-POLK-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...NEW PORT RICHEY...ZEPHYRHILLS...
CLEARWATER...ST. PETERSBURG...BRANDON...TAMPA...LAKELAND...
WINTER HAVEN
408 AM EDT WED AUG 22 2012

...FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING...

THE FLOOD WATCH CONTINUES FOR

* A PORTION OF WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA...INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING
AREAS...HILLSBOROUGH...PASCO...PINELLAS AND POLK.

* THROUGH THIS EVENING

* WIDESPREAD RAINFALL TOTALS OF 2 TO 3 INCHES ARE LIKELY WITH
LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS THROUGH THIS EVENING...ESPECIALLY FROM
STORMS WITH HEAVY RAIN REPEATEDLY MOVING ACROSS THE SAME
LOCATIONS.


PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT FLOODING IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT
24 TO 36 HOURS. RESIDENTS LIVING IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS SHOULD TAKE
ACTION TO PROTECT PROPERTY.

&&
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Quoting AllStar17:
Where I see the center:
That is where the NHC see it too.
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Quoting TheMom:
Who got lucky? Cause we had Fay sitting on us for a week and had major flooding. some of my coworkers were even havign to move into work since they were not allowed to use boats to get to thier houses... Luck is relative...


Yeah Fay was a nasty event for alot of people, myself included. I remember having to get up on a ladder in 40 mph winds to take down the ceiling fans on my front porch or risk blades and bulbs flying thru my french doors they were getting thrashed so badly. We only got 8" out of it with minor flooding but nothing like in the northern part of the state. UGH.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
In case anyone was wondering, Ernesto lives on...


Really?!?!?!
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1007 mb
0 hrs

Let the games begin!
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Quoting mojofearless:
Patrap, given the consistency on the EMCWF for the last day or two, do you think we're going to see the GFS, etc trend westward?


If the Motion remains 280, that most likely is going to change the End Line tracks WEST.

Albeit how much,time will tell.
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A hit for Tampa would be historical but even a near miss will be financially devastating. They have put so much money into the the RNC,if they can't re-coop some of it, because of cancellations.
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Quoting gustavcane:
what do you guys think about the ECMWF track. Jeff Masters posted on this Blog today that the single best-performing model
over the past two years has been the ECMWF (European Center model). The
GFS model has been a close second.




Gustav, I'm pretty concerned about the EMCWF, to be honest.
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Take SW Blobby and it's inflow/outflow bands and move it NE over the center and you have one heck of a storm. As soon as it can work out the alignment issues it will take off fast.

Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting gprxomstr:

Don't center reformations generally jump from South to North though??

No, they can go any direction.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5891
Hey can anyone give me the links to forecast models such as the GFS and ECMWF? I can't seem to locate them.
Thanks
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"Fay flooded out the Big Bend area (including parts of my house near Tallahasee) and other parts of North Florida........We dodged a bullet in the Big Bend when She weakened in the Eastern Gulf and came ashore as a TS.......This one will be a nail biter for Florida."

Fay sat on Brevard county for days upon end... the Satellite Beach environs(South Central coast of Brevard)received 24" - 30"... we got over a foot at my place in Titusville- but 14 - 18 inches was very common... Titusville was "spared" another foot of rain because the CoC was right over us for two days...

Prodigious rainmaker...
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The MLC and LLC aren't stacked. The LLC is under the new burst of convection, while the MLC is a bit SSE of that.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5891
Quoting SLU:
Based on low level cloud lines and Barbados radar imagery, it seem the center is reforming further south east of the previous location near 15n 58w. Let's wait to see what the RECON finds.


Is that right!!
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Patrap, given the consistency on the EMCWF for the last day or two, do you think we're going to see the GFS, etc trend westward?
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what do you guys think about the ECMWF track. Jeff Masters posted on this Blog today that the single best-performing model
over the past two years has been the ECMWF (European Center model). The
GFS model has been a close second.


Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
Quoting SLU:
Based on low level cloud line and Barbados radar imagery, it seem the center is reforming further south east of the previous location near 15n 58w. Let's wait to see what the RECON finds.



center is no where near barbados...come on..stop...its cleary between 15.7-16.0..look at the radar..its almost on top of guadalupe.
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In case anyone was wondering, Ernesto lives on...

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
more bad storms coming in off the gulf..grrrr
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The core of the storm is starting to gain some separation from the ULL off the NE over the past several hours so the NE structure should start to improve over the next 24 hours.....You can see that band of convection on the Eastern side trying to take advantage of that distancing and finally wrap around.
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TS Isaac FunkTop Loop

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693. SLU
Based on low level cloud lines and Barbados radar imagery, it seems the center is reforming further south east of the previous location near 15n 58.5w. Let's wait to see what the RECON finds.

Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 5367

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