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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Does it look like the center may be trying to relocate in the area that is around 14N 64W?
Jim Cantore was talking about this on TWC.
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Quoting floridaT:
did they turn off the power like they did a couple years ago?


No I live in Vega Baja, and the system here sucks..I expected it...thank God for flashlights..hope they get it back up soon.
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1799. leo305
Quoting mcluvincane:


Trust me, if it gets in the gulf, it will LIKELY explode


Just like Ike right.. Just because a system gets into the gulf, doesn't mean it will automatically become a monstrosity..

There are way more factors going into why a storm strengthens or remains at a certain intensity..

Katrina started going right before making landfall in Florida actually.. it erupted rather quickly, jumping from a weak TS to a Hurricane in a days time..
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1798. ncstorm
I just wanted to post from my NWS in light of Cantore remarks..

THE FORECAST BECOMES A LITTLE MORE UNCERTAIN BEGINNING MONDAY AS
THERE ARE SOME POTENTIAL IMPACTS FROM WHAT MAY BE HURRICANE ISAAC.
THE OFFICIAL NHC FORECAST KEEPS ISAAC TOO FAR SOUTH AND WEST FOR ANY
REAL IMPACTS LOCALLY...BUT SOME MODEL SOLUTIONS (00Z AND 12Z
CANADIAN IN PARTICULAR) ARE MUCH FARTHER NORTH AND EAST. THE VARIOUS
MODEL FORECASTS WITH ISAAC SEEM KEYED MORE TO INTENSITY DIFFERENCES
THAN TO TROUGHS AND STEERING FLOW. A STORM THAT BECOMES STRONGER
MORE QUICKLY CURVES TOWARD THE CAROLINAS (LIKE THE CANADIAN SHOWS)
WHILE A STORM THAT REMAINS WEAKER LONGER (LIKE THE ECMWF SHOWS)
MAINTAINS A MORE WESTWARD PATH INTO THE GULF.
THE NHC FORECAST
APPEARS TO BE A GOOD COMPROMISE SOLUTION. NOTE THAT A GULF STREAM JET
IS SCHEDULED TO PERFORM UPPER AIR RECONNAISSANCE AROUND ISAAC
THURSDAY EVENING...AND THE ADDITION OF THIS TYPE OF DATA INTO THE
MODELS WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN STRAIGHTENING OUT LAST YEAR`S EARLY
FORECAST PATH ERRORS WITH IRENE.
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1797. trey33
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


should change his name to sherlock



OMG I'm laughing so hard I can barely type!!!
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1796. TXCWC
Quoting weatherh98:
are these 00z or 18z?


If asking me - tracks posted are 0Z
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Quoting mcluvincane:


This storm could very well be a Katrina type storm, katrina was a cat 1 when it came across florida and strengthened to the beast she was


Shakes head...

Katrina was not a severely decoupled system, it crossed Fl, not mountainous terrain, and it had plenty of room once it got in to the Gulf.

Currently there is no reason to think that we have a potential Katrina on our hands. There is a remote chance that changes down the road, but right now it is fairly irrational thinking.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16970
People need to chill and not hype the storm up.
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Quoting PRweatherWatcher10:
Well my house is without power or water already!
did they turn off the power like they did a couple years ago?
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Quoting StormJunkie:


I'm telling you it is an outlier and that it is generally being discounted at this point. You used the word "likely"...One outlying model amongst so many others that say differently does not really justify "likely". Is there an outside chance that it gets in to the Gulf and explodes; sure it is remotely possible.


Trust me, if it gets in the gulf, it will LIKELY explode
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1791. HrDelta
Quoting mcluvincane:


This storm could very well be a Katrina type storm, katrina was a cat 1 when it came across florida and strengthened to the beast she was


Thing is, I don't see it going that far into the gulf. I think it will graze the West Coast of Florida. So, while I think it may get to major, it will not be going into the 160+, -910 mbar region. It will, at most, be your average Category 3 Hurricane. Except for being the size of a Dwarf Planet.
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1790. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting ncstorm:
from Jim Cantore on Twitter

Jim Cantore ‏@JimCantore

Satellite trend shows deep convection wrapping into the center of #Isaac. If it persists the storm will strengthen


should change his name to sherlock
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 189 Comments: 59017
Quoting scooster67:


Spot on I'd say..

yep

Quoting TXCWC:
Consensus is now saying FL Panhandle for landfall - BUT NOTE THERE ARE NOW MORE TRACKS POINTING EVEN FURTHER WEST - INCLUDING THE HWFI. If I was a betting person I would say another slight track shift West further off FL West Coast is coming and EURO tonight holds to landfall West of Panhandle.



00Z CLP5 has gone further S and W as well further than the others
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
144

WHXX01 KWBC 230025

CHGHUR

TROPICAL CYCLONE GUIDANCE MESSAGE

NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL

0025 UTC THU AUG 23 2012



DISCLAIMER...NUMERICAL MODELS ARE SUBJECT TO LARGE ERRORS.

PLEASE REFER TO NHC OFFICIAL FORECASTS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE

AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION.



ATLANTIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR



TROPICAL CYCLONE ISAAC (AL092012) 20120823 0000 UTC



...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...

120823 0000 120823 1200 120824 0000 120824 1200



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 15.8N 62.2W 16.5N 65.2W 17.6N 68.1W 18.3N 71.1W

BAMD 15.8N 62.2W 16.2N 65.1W 17.0N 67.7W 17.9N 70.0W

BAMM 15.8N 62.2W 16.3N 65.0W 17.2N 67.7W 18.1N 70.0W

LBAR 15.8N 62.2W 16.2N 65.5W 16.6N 68.7W 17.2N 71.7W

SHIP 40KTS 48KTS 59KTS 71KTS

DSHP 40KTS 48KTS 59KTS 71KTS



...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...

120825 0000 120826 0000 120827 0000 120828 0000



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 19.0N 73.8W 19.5N 77.8W 21.4N 78.8W 26.8N 80.1W

BAMD 19.1N 71.9W 21.8N 75.8W 25.5N 79.4W 29.6N 82.9W

BAMM 19.3N 72.3W 21.4N 76.3W 24.0N 79.4W 27.8N 82.3W

LBAR 18.0N 74.5W 20.1N 79.0W 22.6N 82.0W 26.6N 83.9W

SHIP 83KTS 96KTS 107KTS 104KTS

DSHP 83KTS 59KTS 60KTS 57KTS



...INITIAL CONDITIONS...

LATCUR = 15.8N LONCUR = 62.2W DIRCUR = 270DEG SPDCUR = 18KT

LATM12 = 15.9N LONM12 = 58.5W DIRM12 = 277DEG SPDM12 = 19KT

LATM24 = 15.4N LONM24 = 54.8W

WNDCUR = 40KT RMAXWD = 70NM WNDM12 = 40KT

CENPRS = 1004MB OUTPRS = 1010MB OUTRAD = 200NM SDEPTH = M

RD34NE = 120NM RD34SE = 0NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 90NM



$$

NNNN


Obviously SHIP expects near-zero land interaction, so it must be favoring a westward track.
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Ummmmmm......

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I remember Katrina didn't really get going until it crossed Fl. and got in the warm loop current in the gulf. Then we had the Cat 5. Just saying.
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are these 00z or 18z?
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Quoting Tribucanes:
Would not be surprised at all to see the beginnings of an eye feature in the next 5-7 hours. Looks like NHC isn't going to have to adjust their path a great deal. Think Jeff's percentages from earlier are still right on. Hurricane going to be bearing down on Haiti, that sucks.


Poor . Those folks are in a dire mess as it is.
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1783. scott39
Quoting StormJunkie:


I'm telling you it is an outlier and that it is generally being discounted at this point. You used the word "likely"...One outlying model amongst so many others that say differently does not really justify "likely". Is there an outside chance that it gets in to the Gulf and explodes; sure it is remotely possible.
Your a trip Lol
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6917
Well my house is without power or water already!
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Not a single drop here tonight... We've been left out of the Cone...



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1780. ncstorm
from Jim Cantore on Twitter

Jim Cantore ‏@JimCantore

Satellite trend shows deep convection wrapping into the center of #Isaac. If it persists the storm will strengthen
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1779. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Tribucanes:
Would not be surprised at all to see the beginnings of an eye feature in the next 5-7 hours. Looks like NHC isn't going to have to adjust their path a great deal. Think Jeff's percentages from earlier are still right on. Hurricane going to be bearing down on Haiti, that sucks.


the opening bid is 100,000 souls
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 189 Comments: 59017
well all is prepared almost. tried to fire up the generator today no luck carburetor is bad, good fortune though the guy on ebay assured me he will get a new one in the mail first thing in the morning. some good people out there.
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Quoting intampa:
Met on channel 13 says he is "optimistic "that Isaac going further out in the gulf and we will dodge this one again
As if people here weren't already complacent...
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A meteorologist should never use the word lucky followed by hurricane going out further in the Gulf. :)
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On the Barometer Bob Show this Thursday night beginning at 8PM/ET at www.HurricaneHollow.Com. We will talk with the NWS Tampa forecaster Paul Close about how Isaac will affect their forecast area IF it moves in their direction.
Join us in Storm Chat during the show at http://irc.barometerbob.net/ to ask questions.
The Tropics are active and we are here to help you get ready! So do call in if you have any questions.
The toll free line and skype will be available also.
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Quoting scott39:
Are you telling me that the EURO doesnt have a major hurricane in the GOM?


I'm telling you it is an outlier and that it is generally being discounted at this point. You used the word "likely"...One outlying model amongst so many others that say differently does not really justify "likely". Is there an outside chance that it gets in to the Gulf and explodes; sure it is remotely possible.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16970
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Sydney is having it's warmest day since May. Currently 81.3°F and still rising. It's still meant to be winter down here. Tomorrow(Friday) is meant to be 66°F.



July 2012 was the fourth warmest July on record globally



But parts of Australia were a bit cooler. August will be similar extreme.
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outflow becoming established to the NE finally.
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Quoting congaline:
Get out of town if it looks like Isaac is going to hit. As observers have been saying he is already a very wet storm, and is very large. Even a near pass could be disastrous. We'll open shelters here in Highlands County for Tampa peeps who need a safe haven.
we'll whose we'll
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Quoting NYCyclone86:


Levi posted the 18Z ensemble graphic before and looked nothing like that. It was concentrated in the east gulf/west Florida.


Actually I believe,please correct if I'm wrong, but the grey lines on here are the ensembles. If you notice they're all over FL and just to the east and into the gulf...
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Quoting HrDelta:


Agreed. Unless something special happens, this will not be Katrina-Class in damage, or (god-forbid) death toll.


This storm could very well be a Katrina type storm, katrina was a cat 1 when it came across florida and strengthened to the beast she was
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1765. intampa
Met on channel 13 says he is "optimistic "that Isaac going further out in the gulf and we will dodge this one again
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1764. trey33
Quoting congaline:
Get out of town if it looks like Isaac is going to hit. As observers have been saying he is already a very wet storm, and is very large. Even a near pass could be disastrous. We'll open shelters here in Highlands County for Tampa peeps who need a safe haven.


Agreed and thanks!

When the RNC collided with my 15th wedding anniversary I made very early evacuation plans...

Vegas!!! (sad to miss prince harry by a few days)
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1763. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
144

WHXX01 KWBC 230025

CHGHUR

TROPICAL CYCLONE GUIDANCE MESSAGE

NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL

0025 UTC THU AUG 23 2012



DISCLAIMER...NUMERICAL MODELS ARE SUBJECT TO LARGE ERRORS.

PLEASE REFER TO NHC OFFICIAL FORECASTS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE

AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION.



ATLANTIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR



TROPICAL CYCLONE ISAAC (AL092012) 20120823 0000 UTC



...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...

120823 0000 120823 1200 120824 0000 120824 1200



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 15.8N 62.2W 16.5N 65.2W 17.6N 68.1W 18.3N 71.1W

BAMD 15.8N 62.2W 16.2N 65.1W 17.0N 67.7W 17.9N 70.0W

BAMM 15.8N 62.2W 16.3N 65.0W 17.2N 67.7W 18.1N 70.0W

LBAR 15.8N 62.2W 16.2N 65.5W 16.6N 68.7W 17.2N 71.7W

SHIP 40KTS 48KTS 59KTS 71KTS

DSHP 40KTS 48KTS 59KTS 71KTS



...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...

120825 0000 120826 0000 120827 0000 120828 0000



LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON

BAMS 19.0N 73.8W 19.5N 77.8W 21.4N 78.8W 26.8N 80.1W

BAMD 19.1N 71.9W 21.8N 75.8W 25.5N 79.4W 29.6N 82.9W

BAMM 19.3N 72.3W 21.4N 76.3W 24.0N 79.4W 27.8N 82.3W

LBAR 18.0N 74.5W 20.1N 79.0W 22.6N 82.0W 26.6N 83.9W

SHIP 83KTS 96KTS 107KTS 104KTS

DSHP 83KTS 59KTS 60KTS 57KTS



...INITIAL CONDITIONS...

LATCUR = 15.8N LONCUR = 62.2W DIRCUR = 270DEG SPDCUR = 18KT

LATM12 = 15.9N LONM12 = 58.5W DIRM12 = 277DEG SPDM12 = 19KT

LATM24 = 15.4N LONM24 = 54.8W

WNDCUR = 40KT RMAXWD = 70NM WNDM12 = 40KT

CENPRS = 1004MB OUTPRS = 1010MB OUTRAD = 200NM SDEPTH = M

RD34NE = 120NM RD34SE = 0NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 90NM



$$

NNNN
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 189 Comments: 59017
Will that yellow circle turn into......?

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Quoting HrDelta:


I think your computer might have been screwing with you there. I can agree with what you say though.
I tried to fix that... have very bad internet connection today. I'm gonna give up and go to bed.
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1760. scott39
Quoting StormJunkie:


If by "one for the ages" you meant a very serious flooding threat, then you are not hyping. If you are talking about it becoming a major then at this point that is hype, hearsay, and not based on current models or observations.
Are you telling me that the EURO doesnt have a major hurricane in the GOM?
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6917
Would not be surprised at all to see the beginnings of an eye feature in the next 5-7 hours. Looks like NHC isn't going to have to adjust their path a great deal. Think Jeff's percentages from earlier are still right on. Hurricane going to be bearing down on Haiti, that sucks.
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Quoting mynameispaul:
Best wishes to all the Florida folks on here. Stay safe and hopefully you all get thru the storm ok.
Thank you we been there done that.

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Quoting GoWVU:

Thanks!! I like toooooo hear that!!
Depends where Isaac goes, South Carolina may get some pretty bad weather depending on its path? Remember the wild weather is usually on the east side of a tropical system. To the West of it usually it will be Hot and Dry.
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Quoting scott39:
LOl.... Im not hyping anything....look at the models!


If by "one for the ages" you meant a very serious flooding threat, then you are not hyping. If you are talking about it becoming a major then at this point that is hype, hearsay, and not based on current models or observations.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16970
1655.

Grothar, I totally get yer "blobs" and "blobettes" but geez, can we get this one (which you pointed out I don't know how many days ago) and the next one...and the next one ?? before you go pointing out the next one? *lol* :)

Lindy
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Quoting RTSplayer:


That's definitely not the center.

Don't know where you got that, but if anything, the center is south of the official fix, unless something was updated in like the past 10 minutes.


yep I agree

Quoting Chiggy:
This is where the LLC is - south of where NHC has it....


yes it is S of where NHC puts it

Quoting CosmicEvents:
There is a product that the NHC puts out with the probabilities of TS and 50+ winds. It's found here:
Link
.
Enclosed within as far as the Caymans go are the following probability. Note it's not 0, and note the cumulative total over the next 5 days(1 in 10) and 50+ winds(1 in 33). So, it can happen, it's just a longshot. And we first of all sort of need a storm to hold together till it gets nearby.
.
.
GRAND CAYMAN 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 1( 1) 7( 8) 2(10)
GRAND CAYMAN 50 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 2( 2) 1( 3)


for now

Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Follow recon VDM's...

Not going there, lol. The plots are east of where they were 4 hours ago. The population of east coast FL landfalls has increased.


I do follow the VDM's

and ...?

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1753. Relix
1003.0mb at 15.933N 62.817W
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1752. scott39
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Don't hype..
LOl.... Im not hyping anything....look at the models!
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 6917
Quoting trey33:


Some in south tampa (my old house - westshore fingers) were stuck in their homes and couldn't get out for 3 days because of Debby's flooding. So I can't imagine
how bad if the GFS track is correct.

I work downtown and my building is closed next week - so that is at least a positive. Downtown is partially evacuated of its workforce anyway for a week starting Saturday when the National Guard moves in.
Get out of town if it looks like Isaac is going to hit. As observers have been saying he is already a very wet storm, and is very large. Even a near pass could be disastrous. We'll open shelters here in Highlands County for Tampa peeps who need a safe haven.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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