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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Joe B 8-21-12



Joe B 8-22-12
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1442. hydrus
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..
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.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
The new HH pass is very indicative of a center reformation to the SE. An elongated low pressure center that is moving now SW along the flow of the new stronger center forming to the SE.


I could see 15.7N 60.4W, leaning to the reform camp myself. Still not official however.
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Quoting hydrus:
StormTop maybe..?


No way, ST was way more intelligent...More of an .... too; but definitely more intelligent.
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So, do you guys have an idea of what direction is the new center moving?
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Quoting ncstorm:
Just able to check back..the Euro is taking a major into LA and look at Joyce on this run..

the one in the center of the pic is not joyce . it's thee K storm. look at the entire run.
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1436. oakland
Quoting Floridaweathergirl:
After reading the post I am getting happy because it means Miami is out of this storm :-)


Don't celebrate quite yet. Remain cautious until Isaac is completely out of your area and range.
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1435. hydrus
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
I wish 456 would hop on and give us an update
Me too... He is a family man now..:)
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
That's twice as large as Wake County Public School System in North Carolina... and eight times the size of my school system.


Lol yeah those stats on the Miami-Dade school systems make my school system look like crap. That school system is 16 times larger than mine in central GA. And it probably beats out our ever-so-impressive 40% graduation rate too. Lol.
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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.
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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.
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Quoting schistkicker:
This is a huge circulation, so it's going to take some time to spin up. Maybe we'll get lucky and it'll never really get its act together...

That said, I think I like the idea of another NOLA storm even less than the possible Tampa strafe the other models were pushing earlier.



All last season and this season, storms have either dissipated unexpectedly or failed to ramp up as predicted. Thus far, Isaac is following the pattern. Fast forward speed probably contributes to this. Many of last season's duds were fast trackers.

However, there has been speculation that lack of vertical instability may be the most important factor. It just might be an underappreciated environmental variable.
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Quoting WDEmobmet:

Just for YOU

ik kinda off Issac topic but looks like a low forming in E PAC
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1429. JLPR2
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
336 PM AST WED AUG 22 2012

PRC007-021-025-029-031-033-035-037-041-053-061-06 3-069-077-085-087-
089-103-109-119-127-129-139-151-222030-
BAYAMON PR-CAGUAS PR-CANOVANAS PR-CAYEY PR-CEIBA PR-CIDRA
PR-GUAYNABO PR-GURABO PR-NAGUABO PR-JUNCOS PR-LAS PIEDRAS
PR-PATILLAS PR-SAN JUAN PR-SAN LORENZO PR-TRUJILLO ALTO PR-YABUCOA
PR-AGUAS BUENAS PR-FAJARDO PR-CAROLINA PR-CATANO PR-LUQUILLO
PR-HUMACAO PR-RIO GRANDE PR-LOIZA PR-
336 PM AST WED AUG 22 2012

...SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ADVISORY FOR STRONG THUNDERSTORMS APPROACHING
FROM THE NORTHEAST TOWARDS EASTERN PUERTO RICO...

AT 332 PM AST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGIST DETECTED A
LINE OF STRONG THUNDERSTORMS JUST NORTHEAST OF PUERTO RICO...MOVING
SOUTHWEST AT 30 MPH. THESE THUNDERSTORMS CAN PRODUCE LOCALLY HEAVY
RAINFALL AND WIND GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 30 MPH.


Getting closer to me.
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1427. ncstorm
Quoting hydrus:
I agree..Seeing the same thing over and over again when the blog moves so fast will get on many peoples nerves. Do not let it get the better of you, I just go past and learn what I can.


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..
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After reading the post I am getting happy because it means Miami is out of this storm :-)
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1425. Patrap
Why give a obvious troll a shout out?

I have that on iggy and no one had commented on the blubs at all.

THINK




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128639
1424. JasonRE
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Not a circulation? So I guess the pressure dropped to 1005 millibars for no reason?

This southward shift in the center is not good.


So there has officially ben a southward shift in the center as of lately? What does that mean for future tracking? A slightly altered path than shown for the past 10-12 hours or just about the same?

Also, if it does enter the GOM, what does that mean? Will it help fuel this storm even more, with the GOM's current conditions?
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1423. hydrus
Quoting ITSNOTGONNAHAPPEN:
FLORIDA GETS NOTHING........ BY TOMMOROW YOULL SEE THE CONE MOVE EVEN MORE WEST NOT EVEN INCLUDING MUCH OF FLORIDA ANYMORE... THE CONE HAS ALREADY MOVED WEST 3 TIMES SINCE LAST NIGHT JUST WATCH
StormTop maybe..?
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The northern center appears as though it is becoming increasingly ill-defined.
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Nice try, but that model is from yesterday.  The most recent Euro model moves landfall further E towards NOLA/W MS, not S Cen LA. Bad enough. 

And, it's still the outlier. Until other models start following suit, it is but one of many solutions..and not the solution that the NHC is going with. At least, not yet.

Still too soon  and too far away to start panicking.  Just watch and prepare.

Quoting gustavcane:
then at 240hrs THE END.

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Quoting RitaEvac:
Just one model



And it's already big



Ok now you're starting to scare me dude. Time for a FRESCA!! :)
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The new HH pass is very indicative of a center reformation to the SE. An elongated low pressure center that is moving now SW along the flow of the new stronger center forming to the SE.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6592
CANTBELIEVEIT and THISISAJOKE are the same bloke. Just report and ignore. Shameful when there is a storm with high potential to be a killer, that someone would do this. Guess who's at the door? Karma's calling.
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1416. hydrus
Quoting A4Guy:
I swear, if I see the Euro model images posted again, I swear I am going to LOSE IT! It's worse than twenty people posting the NHC tracks and discusisons every 6 hours...at least those generally come to an end after 30 minutes. These Euro images are non-stop.
Geeeeeeezus!!!!!!
I agree..Seeing the same thing over and over again when the blog moves so fast will get on many peoples nerves. Do not let it get the better of you, I just go past and learn what I can.
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1415. JLPR2
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


The blog has declared reformation, the NHC has not (if there is one NHC would recognize at 5 PM) and RECON has not acknowledged reformation via a vortex fix either. To me it is a possibility, but not certain.


Exactly, waiting to see what the NHC thinks. Only an hour away from the next update.
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1414. ncstorm
Just able to check back..the Euro is taking a major into LA and look at Joyce on this run..

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1413. 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.
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Quoting GetReal:


964mb


OMGOSH!!! That is just like Katrina's landfall. I survived one Katrina. Not sure I have another one in me..........YIKES!!!
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Quoting A4Guy:
I swear, if I see the Euro model images posted again, I swear I am going to LOSE IT! It's worse than twenty people posting the NHC tracks and discusisons every 6 hours...at least those generally come to an end after 30 minutes. These Euro images are non-stop.
Geeeeeeezus!!!!!!

Just for YOU
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Quoting gustavcane:
then at 240hrs THE END.
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.
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Quoting GetReal:






That looks to be about 15.4n,60.4/5w.
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E coast?? ends there :(
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1407. Patrap
Multiplatform Satellite Surface Wind Analysis 18Z



Multi-Platform Tropical Cyclone Surface Wind Analysis

Currently, this product combines information from five data sources to create a mid-level (near 700 hPa) wind analysis using a variational approach described in Knaff and DeMaria (2006). The resulting mid-level winds are then adjusted to the surface applying a very simple single column approach. Over the ocean an adjustment factor is applied, which is a function of radius from the center ranging from 0.9 to 0.7, and the winds are turned 20 degrees toward low pressure. Over land, the oceanic winds are reduced by an additional 20% and turned an additional 20 degrees toward low pressure.

The five datasets currently used are the ASCAT scatterometer, which is adjusted upward to 700 hPa in the same manner as the surface winds are adjusted downward, feature track winds in the mid-levels from the operational satellite centers, 2-d flight-level winds estimated from infrared imagery (see Mueller et al 2006 ) and 2-d winds created from Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU)- derived height fields and solving the non-linear balance equations as described in Bessho et al (2006). Past analyses also made use of the QuickSCAT scatterometer (i.e., prior to November 2009), but this satellite is no longer producing observations of surface vector winds.

Each of the input data are shown in subpanels following the analysis (i.e., storm-relative). Shown are AMSU winds, Cloud-drift/IR/WV winds, IR-proxy winds and Scatterometer winds; QuikSCAT, when available for past analyses (BLUE) and ASCAT (RED). All input data in these panels has been reduced to a 10-m land or oceanic exposure depending on the location (i.e., non-surface data has been reduced to a 10-m exposure).

How good are the wind estimates? Here is the verification based upon 2007 data . These statistics were based on 1) H*Wind data when available and 2) best track wind radii estimates from NHC. In interpreting the wind radii verification it is important to not that the zero wind radii are included in the verification, which both skews and inflates the MAE verification statistics. Note however detection is improved over climatology provided by Knaff et al. (2007).
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128639
Quoting RTSplayer:


Several GFS ensemble members go just as far or farther west, so it's not unreasonable.
ONE GFS member has a N.O. landfall. all the rest are to the east of that.Link
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I wish 456 would hop on and give us an update
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6592
1404. JasonRE
Quoting SWLACajun:
Any ideas why the ecmwf shows Isaac going so far west? Some reason it thinks the storm would stay weak and therefore track furthur west?


I'm right there with you SWLACajun. Sitting here at work, constantly monitoring this one. Closest we've seen yet this year, even though it's far away. I guess it's the closest to 'maybe' tracking here.

What I want to know is why there is a model that far West compared to what they're showing now.
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Quoting Doppler22:

its a loose loose situation... Either Issac blows through/ heavely affects Haiti or it misses them and comes for the USA



Perfectly ! A Loose/Loose situation any TS or H passing withing 100 miles south of Haiti will cause devastating flooding situation to all or a large part of the country.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
I personally don't think a reformation will alter the 72hr plus track much. It actually may cause the storm to make a harder right turn as it would be a stronger cyclone.


I am with you on this... let's see if this relocation does confirm and how it affects the thinking of the NHC
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1401. snotly
I wonder if all that convection to the SE is going to 'tumble' over to the NE and cause the storm to wobble and intensify.
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1400. Gearsts
Quoting Chiggy:

If that is the case then I make it at 60.5W and 14N..., is that correct?
15.4n
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1398. Thrawst
Still sticking to my forecast. Link
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1397. A4Guy
I swear, if I see the Euro model images posted again, I swear I am going to LOSE IT! It's worse than twenty people posting the NHC tracks and discusisons every 6 hours...at least those generally come to an end after 30 minutes. These Euro images are non-stop.
Geeeeeeezus!!!!!!
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RECON passed over last fix and has confirmed that the LLC that was there is now dead

however the current winds on RECON kinda look like LLCOC redeveloped further SW
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12147
This is a huge circulation, so it's going to take some time to spin up. Maybe we'll get lucky and it'll never really get its act together...

That said, I think I like the idea of another NOLA storm even less than the possible Tampa strafe the other models were pushing earlier.
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1394. hydrus
Quoting GetReal:



Thanks, but even a blind squirrel can find an acorn every now and then!
You sound like Ross..
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Unusually, lol sorry for that grammar misstep last page. Hate making grammatical errors. According to WU spell check unusually is a word, which is why I didn't catch it. :)
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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.

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