Isaac reorganizing as it blows through the Lesser Antilles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:34 PM GMT on August 22, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac continues to maintain top winds of just 45 mph as its center prepares to move through the Lesser Antilles islands late this afternoon and early this evening. The entire Lesser Antilles chain of islands is receiving heavy rains from Isaac, with Martinique picking up 1.46" of rain as of 2 pm EDT, and St. Lucia receiving 1.49". However, Isaac is not yet generating much in the way of tropical storm-force winds, and none of the islands had received winds in excess of 30 mph as of 4 pm EDT. During their storm penetration to obtain their 2 pm EDT center fix, an Air Force Reserve aircraft measured top surface winds of just 40 mph, and a central pressure of 1004 mb. Top winds at their 5000 foot flight altitude were 49 mph. Isaac is undergoing significant changes to its structure. The plane found the center had become a broad, elongated oval that extended 40 miles from NW to SE. The old center, fixed at 2 pm near 16.1°N, and closer to the dry air to Isaac's north, is being challenged for dominance by a new center that is attempting to form near a burst of heavy thunderstorms at 15.5°N. The Hurricane Hunters' latest fix at 3:50 pm EDT put the center near 15.9°N, a southwards shift of about 17 miles. The resulting battle between centers is giving Isaac a rather odd spiral rectangular shape, as seen on visible satellite loops. The Hurricane Hunters 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 Isaac will not be able to begin strengthening until it resolves the battle between it two competing centers, and casts out the dry air infiltrating it. This is going to take at least a day, since Isaac is a very large storm, and it takes more time to spin up a big chunk of the atmosphere. Radar imagery from Barbados and Martinique show plenty of heavy rain showers, mostly on the south side of Isaac where it is moister. There has been a modest increase in spiral banding since this morning.


Figure 1. Afternoon satellite image of Isaac, showing its odd spiral rectangle shape.

Latest model runs for Isaac
The latest set of 12Z (8 am EDT) model runs are very similar to the previous set of runs, which I discussed in detail in this morning's post. The models show a westward track to a point on the south coast of Hispaniola. Isaac's center shift to the south may require some modest adjustments to the south and west for the models. This would result in the storm spending a few hours less time over Hispaniola, and more time over or just south of Cuba. This would slightly decrease the risk to the Dominican Republic, the east coast of Florida, and the Bahamas, but increase the risk to the west coast of Florida. The ECMWF--our best performing model over the past two years--continues to be an outlier among the models. It predicts that Isaac will track just south of Cuba, cross the western tip of Cuba on Monday, then head north towards an eventual landfall in Louisiana. 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, and at this point, we don't know it its more likely that Isaac will go up the east coast of Florida, the west coast, or straight up the peninsula over land. At this point, I'd put the odds at:

40% chance of a track through the Gulf of Mexico, west of Florida
25% chance of a landfall in South Florida, and a track mostly over the Florida Peninsula
35% chance of a track along the east coast of Florida

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? 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 2, 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 2. 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 in the morning.

Jeff Masters

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SHORT TERM FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
1011 AM EDT THU AUG 23 2012

AMZ550-552-555-570-572-575-FLZ041-044>047-053-054 -058-059-064-141-
144-147-231630-
COASTAL VOLUSIA-FLAGLER BEACH TO VOLUSIA-
BREVARD COUNTY LINE 20 NM TO 60 NM OFFSHORE-FLAGLER BEACH TO VOLUSIA-
BREVARD COUNTY LINE OUT TO 20 NM-INDIAN RIVER-INLAND VOLUSIA-MARTIN-
NORTHERN BREVARD-NORTHERN LAKE-OKEECHOBEE-ORANGE-OSCEOLA-
SEBASTIAN INLET TO JUPITER INLET 20 NM TO 60 NM OFFSHORE-
SEBASTIAN INLET TO JUPITER INLET OUT TO 20 NM-SEMINOLE-
SOUTHERN BREVARD-SOUTHERN LAKE-ST. LUCIE-VOLUSIA-
BREVARD COUNTY LINE TO SEBASTIAN INLET 20 NM TO 60 NM OFFSHORE-
VOLUSIA-BREVARD COUNTY LINE TO SEBASTIAN INLET OUT TO 20 NM-
1011 AM EDT THU AUG 23 2012

.NOW...A WEAK TROUGH REMAINS IN PLACE ACROSS NORTH FLORIDA TODAY...
WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE A FOCUS FOR SCATTERED SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS THE REGION TODAY. THE EDGE OF THE WESTERN
ATLANTIC RIDGE HAS ALSO ERODED EASTWARDS THIS MORNING
...WEAKENING THE
SOUTHWESTERLY FLOW ACROSS THE REGION. THIS WILL ALLOW THE EAST COAST
SEA BREEZE TO PUSH FURTHER INLAND TO WEST OF I-95 SOUTH OF CAPE
CANAVERAL...AND SHOULD ALLOW FOR LATE DAY DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE
VOLUSIA COUNTY COAST. THE HIGHEST COVERAGE IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN
ALONG THE I-4 CORRIDOR LATER TODAY WHERE THE TROUGH WILL INTERACT
WITH THE SEA BREEZE.

AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH PASSING THROUGH THE REGION THIS AFTERNOON WILL
BRING A BETTER CHANCE FOR STRONGER STORMS...WHICH COULD PRODUCE WIND
GUSTS TO 50 MPH...FREQUENT CLOUD TO GROUND LIGHTNING STRIKES...AND
HEAVY RAIN. BRIEF FUNNEL CLOUDS MAY ALSO BE POSSIBLE...ESPECIALLY
ALONG BOUNDARY INTERACTIONS.

THROUGH LATE MORNING...ISOLATED SHOWERS AND POSSIBLY A THUNDERSTORM
WILL BE POSSIBLE ACROSS LAKE AND VOLUSIA COUNTIES. ACTIVITY WILL MOVE
TO THE NORTHEAST AT AROUND 15 MPH WITH ONLY A FEW HUNDREDTHS OF A
INCH OF ACCUMULATION EXPECTED. ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY IS EXPECTED TO
PUSH INLAND FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO INTO LAKE COUNTY AFTER NOON.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
Quoting ncstorm:
From Henry Margusity

Isaac: Still Committed to East Coast of Florida to South Carolina
Aug 23, 2012; 8:35 AM ET

Commentary

I remain committed to a path up the East Coast of Florida into South Carolina. My reasoning is such...

1. Isaac remains weak and continues to come around the Atlantic ridge.

2. Weak trough over the central Gulf keeps Isaac east.

3. Historically, storms on the track of Isaac tend to curve north once they they move past Puerto Rico.

Steering flow would take Isaac west for a time before turning to the northwest once it reaches 70 west taking the storm close to Haiti and over the east end of Cuba. Once Isaac does get off Cuba, at that point the intensification starts and we have a whole new ballgame.

As for the models, Euro has trended to the East going from a New Orleans hit to a Mobile Bay Hit. GFS remains on the west coast for Florida which is a rare path. NAM/DGEX take the storm on my path. GFDL is trending east as are the NHC models.

Given that the center of Isaac is being adjusted almost every hour, the models are going to continue to have problems with the path.


This is why he works at Accuguess.
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Just got a tweet from a friend in Trinidad. She and her family are okay, but Isaac blew the roof off her cousin's house in the night.

Usually they're far enough south to be out of the main danger zone, but Isaac is freaking HUGE.
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Quoting snotly:
Look at MSN

Looks like Isaac has slammed into Puerto Rico! Right?

I'd be astonished if someone there told me they were only having occasional rain with 20 mph winds.


+1

Totally irresponsible journalism created for nothing but the 'WOW' effect.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:


Chill out.
*look at join date* And I'm supposed to listen to you? *SMH*
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7981
Quoting Seflhurricane:
move it up to Saturday but sunday is going to be a real bad day here in southern florida gusty winds and heavy rain depending on Isaac's track

we had the same exact situation happen to us about 5 years ago in Indiana with a strong front that came thru. We moved the wedding and all events indoors the evening before and spent the entire evening rearranging the tiny old school house we used.
Giving this might or prob will be a stronger storm I would start working on a total interim plan and follow the NHC and local mets closely. it looks like this is a Sunday event so moving it upto saturday may be a good option.
Good luck!
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folks, before the tempers flare and things start flyin' around the room...just remember there is a little action button called "ignore user"...works much better than blood pressure meds...
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4293. bappit
Quoting StormTracker2K:



A big mess. The bands on the east are oriented north south, not curving towards the convection to the southwest. The center ought to consolidate near that convection but the big circulation is out of whack.
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Quoting StormJunkie:


My bad! It's bound to be a CAT 6 in fifteen minutes!


Much better!
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Who else thinks that td10 is becoming aware of Issac, and it is rotating around it? Could this mean that 10 or Joyce would be sling shoted into the U.S East Coast ahead of Issac?
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4290. Gearsts
Quoting StormTracker2K:
The blog will go nuts come later today as Issac shows his face and once he does it will be one ugly face!
Is already showing his ugly face since yesterday,disorganized, decoupled, misaligned and almost open tropical storm.
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Yeah, and the radar is down for maintenance. Wonderful. Trying to figure out where the safest place in my new rental is. I don't think it's the bathroom's cast iron tub unless termites have some magical protective powers.

Quoting Patrap:
135
WFUS54 KLIX 222033
TORLIX
LAC051-075-222100-
/O.NEW.KLIX.TO.W.0045.120822T2033Z-120822T2100Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
333 PM CDT WED AUG 22 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEW ORLEANS HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN JEFFERSON PARISH IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA...
WEST CENTRAL PLAQUEMINES PARISH IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA...

* UNTIL 400 PM CDT

* AT 332 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR GRAND ISLE
CMAN...OR 20 MILES SOUTHWEST OF PORT SULPHUR...MOVING SOUTH AT 10
MPH.

* THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL OTHERWISE REMAIN OVER MAINLY RURAL
AREAS OF THE INDICATED PARISH.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS UNDER A WORKBENCH OR OTHER
PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE
BUILDING IN AN INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE
BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM
WINDOWS.

IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE...LIE FLAT IN THE
NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

PLEASE FOLLOW OUR OFFICE ON BOTH FACEBOOK AND TWITTER FOR MORE
INFORMATION ON SEVERE WEATHER AND TO RELAY WEATHER REPORTS AND
PHOTOS.



LAT...LON 2921 9005 2926 8999 2931 8999 2934 9002
2938 9000 2935 8996 2928 8995 2930 8991
2932 8992 2935 8988 2938 8987 2938 8983
2935 8986 2930 8985 2929 8992 2919 9004
TIME...MOT...LOC 2034Z 017DEG 10KT 2930 8997



MJH

CLICK HERE TO GO TO PREVIOUS BULLETINS.


The Nexlab LA Page

The Nexlab MS Page

Main Text Page
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Quoting sullivanweather:


It isn't so much that the center keeps reforming...

It's more that there hasn't been a true inner core of the system, but rather a board tropical low pressure system. These center reformations are simply individual vorticies spinning around the overall broad circulation, which would be much easier to discern in a system with less convection. These little vorticies would eventually take over and become the dominant center is a smaller, more symmetric storm. But due to the large, broad, off-centered nature of Isaac these little areas of vorticity get spun off. As they spin off they sometimes drag the broader center in their direction but never far enough to change a longer term vector, which is why the storm 'center' (area of lowest pressure) has remained north of 15°N, despite all these apparent 'jumps' of the center. It's simply a representation of how the storm is currently structured.


Applause! Great analysis! Thank-you
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The year of storms with no center. Looks great but all show and no substance
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4286. USCGLT
I wonder how long it will be before the "Herbert" box discussion begins :)
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Who else has 13 weather related tabs open in multiple browsers?!

LOL.
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4284. Chiggy
Quoting Saltydogbwi1:


Here's where I see the rough center inside the broader spin

I make 66.5W and 15N, if so then I fully agree!
Another thing to look at is the PR radar loop... clearly shows the rotation..., possible a MLC little a further south..
Link
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Haitians already know it's coming. Tent camp leaders have been preparing to take as many people as possible out of the tents into hurricane sustainable buildings. Problem is, there is not enough buildings for the some 400,000.
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Quoting weatherb0y:
I see... it does look organized, but is it fully or at least somewhat vertically stacked yet? Or is it beginning to do so?


it's beginning to do so.
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Quoting Stormcow6:
I am hosting a wedding in my backyard Sunday afternoon in Loxahatchee, Fl. Should I reschedule the tent delivery. I am not sure what to do. Canceling this wedding is not an option but I am nervous that it might rain. Any suggestions....


Have Moore's tie it down!!
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
The blog will go nuts come later today as Issac shows his face and once he does it will be one ugly face!
Will... you... stop... HYPING UP THE STORM?!?!
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7981
Quoting StormTracker2K:


I see... it does look organized, but is it fully or at least somewhat vertically stacked yet? Or is it beginning to do so?
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Hurricane watches may be required for the florida Keys later tonight since if evacuations are needed they have time to do it which has been done with every other system that has brushed by, they will begin with visitors and then a phased from the lower keys up
Member Since: July 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3003
4276. Relix
Quoting snotly:
Look at MSN

Looks like Isaac has slammed into Puerto Rico! Right?

I'd be astonished if someone there told me they were only having occasional rain with 20 mph winds.


Hahaha wow! There's even sun over my house right now :P
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Quoting Saltydogbwi1:


Here's where I see the rough center inside the broader spin


I agree salty. It is attempting to consolidate the MLC and LLC, but that is a very tricky task and it is certainly having some difficulty doing it. Until that happens, you are not going to see RI, or it suddenly become a hurricane; and those are the facts. With a 60 mile separation of the LLC and MLC, the two are basically creating shear for each other.
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Quoting StormJunkie:



Seems unlikely to me; or did I miss some wind readings from HH. Just don't see how it can become a hurricane until the decoupling issue is sorted out. Which it may be trying to do, but has not done yet.


So right, SJ. Isaac is far from maturing still. Very much a decoupled system still. The NHC (and models) are tracking the somewhat exposed LLC northeast of the main, obviously more dominate, rotating convection of the MLC. The LLC seems to have a nnwest movement while the MLC still moves more westwards. Evidently, the NHC still believes the LLC will become the dominate feature in the present; but, my lowly novice thoughts are that this broad moving system will continue to track more westerly.

The convection of the MLC will have to dissipate or get wrapped into the LLC for the NHC's current forecast to verify. Will that happen? Quite possible. I think that's the focus of the day - will that convection in the MLC maintain today or dissipate? Either way Isaac remains a weaker TS and unlikely, imo, to feel any real tug northwards to a departing weakness - too far away for one thing, and too weak, hence a more westwards movement still.

2 cents! ;P
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Issac has a Full House right now.
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4272. luigi18
Quoting snotly:
Look at MSN

Looks like Isaac has slammed into Puerto Rico! Right?

I'd be astonished if someone there told me they were only having occasional rain with 20 mph winds.

no no rain no gusty wind yet!
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4271. yoboi
Quoting Seflhurricane:
rick knabb is no rookie he has worked as a hurricane specialist there for years, but he is a rookie as a hurricane center director


that's what i was saying the buck stops with him....when you are the boss things are so diffrent...
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Quoting Stormcow6:
I am hosting a wedding in my backyard Sunday afternoon in Loxahatchee, Fl. Should I reschedule the tent delivery. I am not sure what to do. Canceling this wedding is not an option but I am nervous that it might rain. Any suggestions....
It'll be rainy for sure.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:




Seems like Ernesto. They just can't find a solid strong center...
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4268. Relix
Quoting Chiggy:

Stormtracker- losig your credibility here with posts like that... Issac barely a TS with max surface level winds of 37mph - rounded off to 40mph !lol


*looks at join date*

Ooooh of cooourseeee.
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Quoting presslord:


Look here, Sonny Boy!!! I'm gettin' really tired of you comin' in here and talkin' sense and reality!!!! You need to get with the program!!! This is the Storm of the Century!!! And everyone needs to panic!!! Right now!!!

Oh Press, do you need a nap? lol
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4266. bappit
The NHC once again notes the presence of dry air.

UPPER-AIR DATA FROM ST. MAARTEN AT 00Z CONFIRMS THE DRY AIR IN THE MID-LEVELS OF THE ATMOSPHERE BETWEEN 600 AND 300 MB AS ALLUDED TO IN PREVIOUS DISCUSSIONS. THIS LAYER OF VERY DRY AIR HAS BEEN HINDERING CONVECTIVE DEVELOPMENT IN THE NORTHEASTERN QUADRANT FOR THE PAST 3-4 DAYS.

What effect does this have? Check out the northeast quadrant at the end of this loop. The clouds there are evaporating (from the dry air). That evaporation cools the air and cause downdrafts robbing heat from the circulation.


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4265. wpb
Quoting Saltydogbwi1:


Here's where I see the rough center inside the broader spin
are u south of the forecast location?
Member Since: May 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 573
Quoting Stormcow6:
I am hosting a wedding in my backyard Sunday afternoon in Loxahatchee, Fl. Should I reschedule the tent delivery. I am not sure what to do. Canceling this wedding is not an option but I am nervous that it might rain. Any suggestions....


Watch the movie Father of the bride. Yeah I would def re-think where you are going to have the wedding, and make plans to have it somewhere indoors.
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4262. snotly
Look at MSN

Looks like Isaac has slammed into Puerto Rico! Right?

I'd be astonished if someone there told me they were only having occasional rain with 20 mph winds.
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Quoting MrNatural:


You really think that is good outflow with most of it weighted to the SW?


The outflow channels in all quads are excellent.

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Quoting BeanTech:


You can always see the sun, day or night...


Like superman when he flies around in space looking for rouges?
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4259. KORBIN
Once the Gulf Stream flys in we will get a much more accurate picture of projected track. Or at least i will feel better about it.
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Even the NHC, at least at the 5AM advisory on Isaac, were confounded on many levels by him. Isaac's just doing his own thing on his own time. Hope some clarification is coming at the 11AM update. Wonder when Jeff will blog today with all this uncertainty with Isaac.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
Halfway through a 24-hour Call of Duty: MW3 marathon with my best friend... No sleep last night, too busy having fun online! Anyhow, I see Isaac is looking better and should begging to strengthen soon. Also, seems like the likely track is more westward now, and it may end up west of Florida its whole lifetime. That could be good or bad for many people on the Gulf Coast...


I love me some zombies

Xbox live
harrisonhp98

Friend me
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Quoting presslord:


Look here, Sonny Boy!!! I'm gettin' really tired of you comin' in here and talkin' sense and reality!!!! You need to get with the program!!! This is the Storm of the Century!!! And everyone needs to panic!!! Right now!!!


The only people I am worried about right now is the people of Haiti. Will anyone be game to tell them there is a TS/Possible Hurricane on it's way. I wouldn't, it could start mass panic.
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4255. ncstorm
From Henry Margusity

Isaac: Still Committed to East Coast of Florida to South Carolina
Aug 23, 2012; 8:35 AM ET

Commentary

I remain committed to a path up the East Coast of Florida into South Carolina. My reasoning is such...

1. Isaac remains weak and continues to come around the Atlantic ridge.

2. Weak trough over the central Gulf keeps Isaac east.

3. Historically, storms on the track of Isaac tend to curve north once they they move past Puerto Rico.

Steering flow would take Isaac west for a time before turning to the northwest once it reaches 70 west taking the storm close to Haiti and over the east end of Cuba. Once Isaac does get off Cuba, at that point the intensification starts and we have a whole new ballgame.

As for the models, Euro has trended to the East going from a New Orleans hit to a Mobile Bay Hit. GFS remains on the west coast for Florida which is a rare path. NAM/DGEX take the storm on my path. GFDL is trending east as are the NHC models.

Given that the center of Isaac is being adjusted almost every hour, the models are going to continue to have problems with the path.
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Quoting 69Viking:


Great analysis, this is one explanation I can say sums up what we're all seeing pretty well and makes a lot of sense!
I concur!
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


LOL! Easy there...


Sorry, I'm so broke I can't even pay attention...
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Quoting TomballTXPride:
ball of convection sinking south...
Yes ball of convection shear to the south, but the center looks more define NE of this convection,
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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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