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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Quoting AussieStorm:

Isaac is doing what Ernesto did. It can't make up it's mind if it wants to strengthen or not.


conditions have not been as ideal as forecast, apparently. kinda has been a trend of the past few years
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This is Bolaven in the West Pac:





It's at 90kts forecast to peak at 120kts.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
What is the ECMWF(Euro) seeing what the GFS isn't???

ECMWF 240hrs


ECMWF 192hrs...



GFS 135hrs....
One Model has the ridge to East of System pretty strong and not showing the weakness the other model shows IMO. Really these 2 models are pretty close. That would give the drought stricken heart of the Country some good rains if it were to happen? I still think this storm is closer to Florida.
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Quoting skook:



Gotta imagine the media will flock to Tampa.. regardless to where Isaac goes, (unless it makes the curve out to sea) with the RNC so near.


That was the story on CBS evening news. Had a met on there from Miami said it could get rough in Tampa no doubt. But that from the gulf of Mexico to the east coast needs to watch it.
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Quoting Chicklit:

whelp, you live in a beautiful place
small price to pay is facing brutal winds, seas, and rains periodically :-)


love to surf, chick
probly gonna do some more of it thanks to isa + his buddy back there
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Quoting Charliesgirl:
yeah, I heard that. shakes head...


Very weak... No depth to their reports at all.
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Quoting KeyWestwx:
BOOO to those paths!!!
yep i noticed the GDFL in that run hits Miami AND tampa..hey it could happen huh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39252
Quoting Grothar:


This storm is getting annoying. (Even though I nailed it from the beginning :))

Isaac is doing what Ernesto did. It can't make up it's mind if it wants to strengthen or not.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15940
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


Looks like reformation about 15.7N and 62.0W ?


Another one??
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Quoting StormJunkie:


Hey Flood, good to see ya.


SJ, good to be seen...and good to see you. I won;t comment on the storm as I really haven't looked at it (reading up right now). Lots of "new" faces in here...LOL
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Quoting Levi32:
Hunting...hunting...


That is a mess... Looks kind of like my room.
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Quoting Grothar:
the FIM8

Now this is interesting




That track is in perfect agreement with what I'm currently thinking. Interested to see if it moves into the western Gulf and continues to intensify after the southern Florida crossing.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39252
Quoting LargoFl:
this sites tracks have changed since this morning
BOOO to those paths!!!
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I'm thinking that Isaac looks rather typhoon-like at the moment.
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Quoting cajunkid:
Where is lefty420?


That my friend is an excellent question! Missed for sure wherever he is.



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Quoting Floodman:


Some of my friends who get to spend more time here than I do told me folks were asking after me, figured I'd dispel the rumours of my passing...LOL

What up?

Yo Floodman. where the F*** you been mate. How ya keeping, all good I hope, Family all good also. How's that back of yours, still going good, pain is a long lost memory.

Cheers from your Down Under Mate!
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15940
Quoting allancalderini:
anyone think we will have Joyce at 11pm?

im in
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Quoting JLPR2:


Your day tomorrow should be pretty interesting.
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Quoting Levi32:


Pretty soon I'll be plotting my own from the ATCF data file as soon as it appears on their server. I might actually dabble with that this afternoon while we watch Isaac do the same 'ol same 'ol.


This storm is getting annoying. (Even though I nailed it from the beginning :))
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Quoting Grothar:


Looks like reformation about 15.7N and 62.0W ?
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Quoting Levi32:
Hunting...hunting...

Making sure their name stays "Hurricane HUNTERS"
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Quoting floridaboy14:
8:00 PM AST Wed Aug 22
Location: 15.7°N 62.2°W
Moving: W at 21 mph
Min pressure: 1004 mb
Max sustained: 45 mph

...ISAAC ENTERS THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN...

15.7 north


TROPICAL STORM CENTER LOCATED NEAR 16.0N 61.2W AT 22/2100Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 30 NM
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
Hey Flood! Who has that picture of Hurlo Man. It seems appropriate for someone at this point!
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Woohoo- they quoted meterologist from Weather underground 'Convention center could be under 20 feet of water in a cat4'
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I think that this mess called Isaac will come together near 15N 63W very soon
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Quoting AussieStorm:
What is the ECMWF(Euro) seeing what the GFS isn't???

ECMWF 240hrs


ECMWF 192hrs...



GFS 135hrs....


Joyce? Or lack of Joyce directly next to Isaac.
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Hunting...hunting...

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Quoting AussieStorm:
What is the ECMWF(Euro) seeing what the GFS isn't???

ECMWF 240hrs


ECMWF 192hrs...



GFS 135hrs....
The Euro keeps the ridge stronger and sends Isaac more westward as a weaker storm until he get's to the N.W caribbean.So he will not feel the weakness that he does on the GFS.
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euro.no.recurve.on.td10?.telleconnecting.from.w.pac
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Introducing what will most likely be Kirk in a few days (or Joyce if 10L falters).

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT WED AUG 22 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL
STORM ISAAC...LOCATED ABOUT 65 MILES SOUTHWEST OF GUADELOUPE...AND
TROPICAL DEPRESSION TEN...LOCATED ABOUT 920 MILES WEST OF THE CAPE
VERDE ISLANDS.

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS NEAR THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA ARE
ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE. DEVELOPMENT IS EXPECTED TO BE
SLOW TO OCCUR...AND THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES
WESTWARD AT ABOUT 15 MPH.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

&&
PUBLIC ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL DEPRESSION TEN ARE ISSUED UNDER WMO
HEADER WTNT35 KNHC AND UNDER AWIPS HEADER MIATCPAT5.
FORECAST/ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL DEPRESSION TEN ARE ISSUED UNDER WMO
HEADER WTNT25 KNHC AND UNDER AWIPS HEADER MIATCMAT5.

$$
FORECASTER BERG
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32276
Quoting Charliesgirl:
yeah, I heard that. shakes head...


It's all Bush'fault....LOL sorry, had to say it
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:


I typically start with quoting the headline and if you read the article you will see that there is "no political opinion" from me or anybody else. There are only documented facts and science.


Well for one you bolded the headline really,

And the convention is not about climate it's about nominating Romney for President.

No need to post that article. We relize that a Republican convention is going on in Tampa and may have to be cancelled due to weather. end of story
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
16.1 center coming back from the W.U. dead this evening.




I give up
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this sites tracks have changed since this morning
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39252
What is the ECMWF(Euro) seeing what the GFS isn't???

ECMWF 240hrs


ECMWF 192hrs...



GFS 135hrs....
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15940
Where is lefty420?
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Quoting captainmark:
New Orleans news met sticking with NHC forcast.
Says La not at risk. I would not make that bet.
yeah, I heard that. shakes head...
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Quoting KeyWestwx:
hey no name Are you on Big Pine? I'm in Key West and I also speak Hawaiian;)


Used to be.....in hawaii now.
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Convection continuing to build around the N side of the "center". Also noticed that Kermit did find a wind shift just W of Dominica and about 25 miles ese of where Mission 03 has a center.

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861. skook
Quoting Tribucanes:
Cantore did not state where he would be sent next.



Gotta imagine the media will flock to Tampa.. regardless to where Isaac goes, (unless it makes the curve out to sea) with the RNC so near.
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The Flood(man) rises. lol

good to see everyone!
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8:00 PM AST Wed Aug 22
Location: 15.7°N 62.2°W
Moving: W at 21 mph
Min pressure: 1004 mb
Max sustained: 45 mph

...ISAAC ENTERS THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN...

15.7 north
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Lol. Saw that did ya? I can't keep up with the blog. :)

Haha yeah i saw it :)
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Swallows and dragonflies swarming around my window remind me it's suppertime.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11353
TROPICAL STORM ISAAC FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 7
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092012
2100 UTC WED AUG 22 2012

CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY...

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HAS ISSUED A HURRICANE
WARNING FOR THE SOUTH COAST FROM ISLA SAONA WESTWARD TO THE
HAITI-DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SOUTHERN BORDER

A HURRICANE WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR ALL OF HAITI.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* SOUTH COAST OF DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM ISLA SAONA WESTWARD TO THE
HAITI-DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SOUTHERN BORDER

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* MARTINIQUE
* DOMINICA
* GUADELOUPE AND THE SURROUNDING ISLANDS...AND ST. MARTIN
* ST. KITTS...NEVIS...ANTIGUA...BARBUDA...MONTSERRAT...A ND ANGUILLA
* SABA...ST. EUSTATIUS...AND ST. MAARTEN
* BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
* PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...CULEBRA...AND THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* PUERTO RICO...VIEQUES...CULEBRA...AND THE U.S. AND BRITISH VIRGIN
ISLANDS
* HAITI

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* NORTH COAST OF DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FROM THE HAITI-DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC NORTHERN BORDER EASTWARD TO NORTH OF ISLA SAONA

A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED
SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA. A WARNING IS TYPICALLY ISSUED
36 HOURS BEFORE THE ANTICIPATED FIRST OCCURRENCE OF
TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS...CONDITIONS THAT MAKE OUTSIDE
PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT OR DANGEROUS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE
AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION.

A HURRICANE WATCH MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE
WITHIN THE WATCH AREA. A WATCH IS TYPICALLY ISSUED 48 HOURS
BEFORE THE ANTICIPATED FIRST OCCURRENCE OF TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE
WINDS...CONDITIONS THAT MAKE OUTSIDE PREPARATIONS DIFFICULT OR
DANGEROUS.

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN 36 HOURS.

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA...GENERALLY WITHIN 48 HOURS.

INTERESTS IN CUBA AND JAMAICA SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF ISAAC.

TROPICAL STORM CENTER LOCATED NEAR 16.0N 61.2W AT 22/2100Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 30 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST OR 280 DEGREES AT 19 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 1004 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 40 KT WITH GUSTS TO 50 KT.
34 KT....... 70NE 0SE 0SW 70NW.
12 FT SEAS..360NE 60SE 0SW 150NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL
MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 16.0N 61.2W AT 22/2100Z
AT 22/1800Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 15.9N 60.4W

FORECAST VALID 23/0600Z 16.3N 63.6W
MAX WIND 40 KT...GUSTS 50 KT.
34 KT... 70NE 0SE 0SW 70NW.

FORECAST VALID 23/1800Z 16.7N 66.7W
MAX WIND 50 KT...GUSTS 60 KT.
50 KT... 25NE 0SE 0SW 25NW.
34 KT... 70NE 40SE 30SW 70NW.

FORECAST VALID 24/0600Z 17.2N 69.4W
MAX WIND 60 KT...GUSTS 75 KT.
50 KT... 30NE 20SE 0SW 30NW.
34 KT... 70NE 50SE 40SW 70NW.

FORECAST VALID 24/1800Z 17.9N 71.6W...INLAND
MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT.
50 KT... 40NE 30SE 20SW 40NW.
34 KT... 90NE 60SE 40SW 90NW.

FORECAST VALID 25/1800Z 20.5N 75.5W...INLAND
MAX WIND 60 KT...GUSTS 75 KT.
50 KT... 40NE 30SE 20SW 40NW.
34 KT...110NE 70SE 50SW 100NW.

EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 175 NM
ON DAY 4 AND 225 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 20 KT EACH DAY

OUTLOOK VALID 26/1800Z 23.5N 79.5W...OVER WATER
MAX WIND 60 KT...GUSTS 75 KT.

OUTLOOK VALID 27/1800Z 26.5N 82.5W
MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT.

REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 16.0N 61.2W

NEXT ADVISORY AT 23/0300Z

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39252
Quoting Floodman:


Some of my friends who get to spend more time here than I do told me folks were asking after me, figured I'd dispel the rumours of my passing...LOL

What up?


Flood sighting! How the heck are you man? Great to see you here...
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Texas will be protected by High Pressure Monday thru Wednesday of next week, Isaac won't be coming towards high pressure. With Isaac's huge circulation in the Gulf most likely there will be little to no onshore flow for Texas which means no moisture. For those in his path be careful and best wishes. THE
UPPER RIDGE WILL STRENGTHEN MONDAY WITH A TREND TOWARD HIGHER
DAYTIME TEMPERATURES THROUGH MIDWEEK. HIGHS MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY
WILL RANGE FROM THE MID 90S ACROSS THE HILL COUNTRY...THE UPPER 90S
TO NEAR 100 ALONG THE I-35 CORRIDOR TO NEAR 102 WESTERN RIO GRANDE
PLAINS. NO RAIN IS EXPECTED EARLY NEXT WEEK WITH STRONG RIDGING
ALOFT COUPLED WITH TROPICAL STORM (POSSIBLY HURRICANE BY THEN)
ISAAC`S BROAD CYCLONIC CIRCULATION DOMINATING THE GULF OF MEXICO
WITH LITTLE IF ANY ONSHORE FLOW.
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Quoting serialteg:


i believe that's the rotation, more N


Yeah....and several vorts would be an understatement!
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


so now i cooooome to youuuuu
with ooooooo pen aaaarms


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Quoting Grothar:
the FIM8

Now this is interesting






Mountains of Cuba take it apart?
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About

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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