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 SouthDadeFish:
Not sure what you are saying... I am saying the original vort is slowly dying... So yes it is a reformation of sorts.


I see a reformation to the south.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


I couldn't find it on that site. But if this is the correct run there's something west. Most over FL.

on that link click on late and all the AP's are GFS ensambles
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


I couldn't find it on that site. But if this is the correct run there's something west. Most over FL.


Hey! off-topic, are you following what's building off our coast? TCFP sees it, my 10day fcst doesn't.
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Quoting LargoFl:
It's a substantial threat to Florida because of two high pressure systems that will steer the storm if it isn't broken up by mountains on its trek across the Caribbean, Bay News 9 chief meteorologist Mike Clay said.

Although the chances the storm will hit the Tampa Bay area remain relatively low, the prospect of a major storm arriving the same week as the Republican National Convention is creating some anxiety.

"This is going to be the key: How far east and strong will that (east) high be," Clay said.

"So with Isaac (in the Caribbean) eventually, it’s going to find a weakness between (the two highs), and that pretty much assures a track up toward Florida. If this (eastern) high is stronger and is back closer to us, it’ll push Isaac out in the gulf more.

"If this (east) high turns out to be a little weaker, Isaac will come along and go up the east coast and maybe up toward the Carolinas."


Nice synopsis of the situation.
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1489. Gearsts
Quoting MississippiWx:


Not really any confirmation of the new one moving to the NW. They haven't made a second pass there yet.
But the old center has a lower pressure so shouldn't the new 1 get pull towards it?
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Don't you mean we'll be in Cancun Patrap? Did my ticket get lost in the mail yet again? Starting to think this is no coincidence Patrap. :) Still going to be blogging? Please say no; your going to be in Cancun! Have a blast.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I have no idea, to be honest. While recon obs seem to confirm all of our thinking, we still need a real center pass.
when will the HH fly through the center?
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And just to remind you, the NAM and NOGAPS and CMC models are just as consistent in moving Issac on the East Coast of FL, if not through the Bahamas towards the OBX and up the East Coast.

Plus, as Dr. Masters noted, the Euro was the most consistent model...but the GFS was a close second. And remember...it was the GFS, not the Euro, who got Debby right when everyone else was moving it towards S Cen TX as a Cat 1 hurricane.

Plus...nothing says that a stronger Issac moving to the S of Hispanola doesn't feel the trough sooner and make an even bigger recurvature N and busts FL from the S or SSW, then rides up the East Coast.

In any event, until the Hurricane Hunters are able to take more detailed readings of the atmosphere and that data is fed into the models, everything is just conjecture now. I believe I'll just rely on the NHC's judgment rather than some fly-by-night armchair I-wanna-play-a-meterologist-on-the-laptop wannabe.
Member Since: September 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 209
1484. Levi32
12z JMA is a bit farther east, scraping along the Florida coast:

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1483. yoboi
how many days did it take nola to evacuate for gustav??
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2405
I think the EURO is definatly onto something. Since the center is further south than it was, this will track somewhat more west. Just my opinion.
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1481. wpb
15.517N 61.067W west wind location
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
by the looks of it they found the center WSW-SW of last fix it just could be that the storm had moved WSW-SW from last fix to current one however I still think reformation of the center is happening a bit further S than that we will just have to wait and see as RECON continues to fly


As far as I can see, I see 2-3 centers. I'm confused lol.
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Quoting Gearsts:
Both centers are dancing with the center in the north rotating towards the SW and the center to the SE rotating towards nw.


Not really any confirmation of the new one moving to the NW. They haven't made a second pass there yet.
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Hi everyone, back for a moment; hope you all are playing nice!


OK, now the models are swinging to the west & we could "maybe" be ok (but I know it could swing back just as easily) I took everything out of my "hurricane supply closet" & put it together again. My house is all set. we could "camp out" for a long time if necessary. After Wilma all we ran out of was ice (of course) and charcoal to cook on the grill (I had about 5 bags but did not realize my BBQ grill would be my main source of cooking for over a week!). But I have plenty of that this year.

Oh I am totally out of "duck tape" used it all to tape together boxes when we were doing the renovation! Oh well, can pick that up anytime.

The only thing you have to buy last minute is Ice and lots of it so you don't have to open your fridge very much while you don't have power.
(and of course those last minute perishable foods)

We keep all the sodas/water/drinks in the ice coolers & out of the fridge. Plenty of Paper/Plastic/trash bags, etc so you don't have to wash dishes & waste your water.

Hope all my Peeps that live in threat zones are ready for the "peak" of the season.
At least now I've done this (I should have done it in June/July but I hoped for an easy season this year
it is done for the season.


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Seems like Isaac is having a hard time holding together right now

Wouldn't be out of the question to be downgraded to TD at 5 if this disorganisation continues

No weather to speak of up here in saint Martin

Dan
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1476. LargoFl
It's a substantial threat to Florida because of two high pressure systems that will steer the storm if it isn't broken up by mountains on its trek across the Caribbean, Bay News 9 chief meteorologist Mike Clay said.

Although the chances the storm will hit the Tampa Bay area remain relatively low, the prospect of a major storm arriving the same week as the Republican National Convention is creating some anxiety.

"This is going to be the key: How far east and strong will that (east) high be," Clay said.

"So with Isaac (in the Caribbean) eventually, it’s going to find a weakness between (the two highs), and that pretty much assures a track up toward Florida. If this (eastern) high is stronger and is back closer to us, it’ll push Isaac out in the gulf more.

"If this (east) high turns out to be a little weaker, Isaac will come along and go up the east coast and maybe up toward the Carolinas."
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40995
1475. Chiggy
Quoting ncstorm:


Well exxxcccuuusssee me! LOL..some of yall need to chill..the blog is moving fast so I doubt you will see it that long and not everyone was here when the Euro was ran..


NCstorm: But I think bloggers would serve well especially when storms gets close to CONUS to just browse couple of pages to see the new info. Most likely pertinent info would have been covered, especially the major model runs. THis would also speed up the blog page if folks stay away from posting same graphic 20 times :) Thx
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Quoting ITSNOTGONNAHAPPEN:
ITS TRUE FLORIDA WONT BE IN THE CONE IF THEY KEEP MOVING THE CONE MORE WEST ON EVERY 3 HOUR TRACK UPDATES LIKE THEY HAVE BEEN DOING SINCE LAST NITE


I CAN'T HEAR YOU, CAN YOU SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER??????
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Latest ECMWF has Isaac crossing the western tip of Cuba ,NOT the Yucatan channel. Shifting East ???
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Once again the N Leewards won't even get a trop. PUT THESE TS WARNING DOWN THEY ARE UNUSEFUL
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To A4Guy:

Earlier there were nothing but GFS Models of Doom for Florida & Tampa Bay. so whats your point.
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Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
Quoting Patrap:
200 PM EDT WED AUG 22 2012 Tropical Weather Discussion

205 PM EDT WED AUG 22 2012

Tropical Storm ISAAC NESDIS Satellite | NDBC Obs |

Storm Archive

...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



Well I guess that means I am "Not" leaning towards the reform, lol. I didn't even see the 2pm advisory loc.
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1468. Patrap
Quoting Tribucanes:
Think Patrap??? Minus well ask me to fly. :) Hope Isaac ain't headed in your direction boss.


Won't matter as I'll be off for almost a month starting tonight.

I'll be in "Cancun".


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
by the looks of it they found the center WSW-SW of last fix it just could be that the storm had moved WSW-SW from last fix to current one however I still think reformation of the center is happening a bit further S than that we will just have to wait and see as RECON continues to fly
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12509
1465. Gearsts
Quoting MississippiWx:
Recon obs confirm that the old center is being absorbed into the new one as the old center has moved well to the SW of the previous fix.
Both centers are dancing with the center in the north rotating towards the SW and the center to the SE rotating towards nw.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Recon obs confirm that the old center is being absorbed into the new one as the old center has moved well to the SW of the previous fix.
Think the center will merge by the 4th or 5th recon pass?
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We may want to keep an eye on TD 10 too. Future Joyce may be a threat to the east coast. Time will tell.
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Quoting lottotexas:
ONE GFS member has a N.O. landfall. all the rest are to the east of that.Link


Do you have the link to the 18z early models?
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1461. hydrus
Quoting StormJunkie:


No way, ST was way more intelligent...More of an .... too; but definitely more intelligent.
He put on a class act at times too...:)..Surface pressure HWRF..
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Quoting floridaboy14:
the euro run yesterday showed this having 2 centers. due to the reformation further south, do you think the nhc will move the cone further west?


I have no idea, to be honest. While recon obs seem to confirm all of our thinking, we still need a real center pass.
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Quoting lottotexas:
ONE GFS member has a N.O. landfall. all the rest are to the east of that.Link


I couldn't find it on that site. But if this is the correct run there's something west. Most over FL.

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Quoting MississippiWx:


I would agree if the pressure had not risen a millibar in the old vort. Seems to be a true reformation.
Not sure what you are saying... I am saying the original vort is slowly dying... So yes it is a reformation of sorts.
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1344: Yonzabam, got your handle! Leith Walk, ah the memories! On topic though, I'm more or less with the Euro on Isaac.

Such a massive system barreling due west will be slow in a-turnin', especially as Isaac is still weaker than one would suppose given its extent and structure.

A increasing turn WNW into Haiti then NW to Florida seems icreasingly unlikely to me.

No way am I calling anything beyong that...

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Think Patrap??? Minus well ask me to fly. :) Hope Isaac ain't headed in your direction boss.
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1454. Patrap
Nothing like quoting idiocy.

LAwdy
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1453. ncstorm
Quoting hydrus:
I was not referring to you NC..There are a couple people that know they posted a repeat and leave it as opposed to take the time to remove it.


I know Hydrus..I was just joking with ya:)
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
You're looking at the incorrect run; the 12z Euro had a Katrina-analog-behemoth-major moving into the Mississippi coast in 192 hours. Also had 10L moving towards the Bahamas on a westward path at the end of the run.


Yes, because it develops a stronger ridge over the Bermuda and Caribbean, and then on the last approach to land, it develops a continental high which further nudges the storm westward even well after landfall, giving the final left hook there.


Recall, neither Camille nor Katrina were particularly powerful when they were in that area near the end of Cuba.

Camille:





Katrina:


Hurricane Lili:





All cat 1 or TS in that zone, then greatly intensify.
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Quoting yqt1001:
People can't disregard the Euro here. Just like the GFS with Debby who was far from the model consensus but which ended up being correct. Just like the FLcasters then said "maybe the Euro knows something we don't". Euro is still the most reliable model, even with the miserable failure on Debby.


If you look closely and the 12z euro and the 12z gfs, you'll notice that the euro has isaac clinging to life while skirting the south coast of Cuba where the gfs has it doing the same but on the north coast of Cuba.
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1208
Quoting RitaEvac:
Just one model



And it's already big



WOW - sure don't like the look of that model!
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1449. Patrap
200 PM EDT WED AUG 22 2012 Tropical Weather Discussion

205 PM EDT WED AUG 22 2012

Tropical Storm ISAAC NESDIS Satellite | NDBC Obs |

Storm Archive

...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
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting MississippiWx:
Recon obs confirm that the old center is being absorbed into the new one as the old center has moved well to the SW of the previous fix.
the euro run yesterday showed this having 2 centers. due to the reformation further south, do you think the nhc will move the cone further west?
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


I could see 15.7, leaning to the reform camp myself. Still not official however.


Im sure the NHC line will read something like "Isaac possibly reforming center, HH investigating."
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6670
Quoting hydrus:
StormTop maybe..?

lol i remember him
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
What we have now are two main vorts spinning around each other. The previous main circulation center is now rotating to the SW while a new circulation center has developed to the SE. The second developing vort should rotate counterclockwise off to the NW. I believe the second vort will eventually take over, but overall this system has some work to do.


I would agree if the pressure had not risen a millibar in the old vort. Seems to be a true reformation.
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Joe B 8-21-12



Joe B 8-22-12
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.