Little change to Isaac, but intensification coming; Joyce forms

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:13 PM GMT on August 23, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac is a large and impressive-looking storm on satellite images, but data from the Hurricane Hunters reveal that Isaac remains a minimal-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds, as it heads westward across the Eastern Caribbean. An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft which completed its mission into Isaac at 8 am EDT found top winds at the surface near 40 mph, and highest winds at their 5,000 foot flight level of 47 mph. A NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft flying at 10,000 feet has found top winds of 47 mph at that altitude. The Hurricane Hunters found a broad area of light winds with a central pressure of 1003 mb. The aircraft did not observe an eyewall trying to form, and recent microwave satellite images also show no signs of an eyewall forming. There does not appear to be much in the way of dry air near the core of Isaac, as seen on water vapor satellite loops, which is a big switch from what we've seen previously. Visible satellite loops show that Isaac has a much more symmetric circular cloud pattern, and has developed a Central Dense Overcast (CDO) of high cirrus clouds, the hallmark of an intensifying 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 an upper-level pattern of outflow supportive of significant strengthening has developed this morning, with an upper-level outflow channel now well-established to the north, and a new outflow channel opening to the south. Radar imagery from Puerto Rico shows some weak low-level spiral bands that are slowing intensifying and becoming more organized.


Figure 1. Morning radar image of Isaac taken from the Puerto Rico radar. Isaac's rain bands are weak, but are starting to take on a more spiraling shape.

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Isaac has consistently confounded predictions that it would intensify, but all the potential factors inhibiting intensification seem to have diminished to the point where intensification has to occur. Wind shear is low, 5 - 10 knots, and ocean temperatures are warm, 29°C, and these warm waters extend to great depth, giving the storm a high total heat content to work with. These factors, combined with the favorable upper-level outflow pattern and more symmetric cloud pattern, support intensification, and all of the intensity models except the HWRF model predict intensification of Isaac to a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane by Friday afternoon. The latest 8 am EDT run of the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will be light to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, for the next five days. The 11 am EDT wind probability forecast from NHC predicted a 34% chance that Isaac will become a hurricane by Friday afternoon, and a 6% chance it will be a Category 2 or stronger hurricane then. By Friday afternoon, Isaac will likely be close enough to Southwest Haiti that the inner core will be disrupted, and the storm will likely be a 45 - 55 mph tropical storm on Saturday and Sunday as it moves over Cuba. Once Isaac pops off the coast of Cuba into the Florida Straits, it will be over very warm waters of 31 - 32°C (88 - 90°F), wind shear will be light to moderate, and the upper-level wind pattern favorable for intensification, with low wind shear due to an upper-level anticyclone over the storm. It will probably take at least 24 hours with the storm's center over water for it to become a hurricane.

Impact of Isaac on the Islands
The south coast of Puerto Rico should see Isaac's heaviest rains and strongest winds beginning near 8 pm EDT tonight, with tropical storm-force winds of 40 - 45 mph potentially affecting the southwest portion of the island. The San Juan airport may be able to stay open during Isaac's passage, but with delays when spiral bands move overhead.

Heavy rains and tropical storm-force winds should arrive on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic late tonight, and the Santo Domingo airport 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 risk of receiving flooding rains and high winds from Isaac. The latest set of 00Z (8 pm EDT) and 06Z (2 am EDT) model runs for Isaac are fairly unified for the coming three days, showing a west-northwestward track over Southwest Haiti and into Western Cuba. At the 4 - 5 day forecast period for Sunday and Monday, the models have come into better agreement, and have shifted west some. Our best-performing model, the ECMWF, has now shifted Isaac's path more to the east, but still is the westernmost of the models, predicting a landfall for Isaac near the Alabama/Florida border on Wednesday. While we do still have some models predicting a path up the east coast of Florida, model consensus now favors a path up the west coast of Florida through the Gulf of Mexico. The recent reformation of Isaac's center more to the south supports the idea that Isaac will take a track more to the west through the Gulf of Mexico. Since this now means a final landfall for Isaac in the Florida Panhandle is likely, the storm will probably have an extra day over water, increasing the odds that it will become a Category 2 or stronger hurricane before this final landfall. The NOAA jet is scheduled to fly into the storm this afternoon, to do a large-scale dropsonde mission to aid model forecasts. These missions can improve model forecasts by 10 - 20%, so the model runs that will be available early Friday morning should have increased reliability.

Impact on Tampa, Florida
The Republican National Convention begins on Monday in Tampa, Florida. The latest 11 am EDT wind probability forecast from NHC gives Tampa a 15% chance of receiving tropical storm-force winds and a 1% chance of receiving hurricane-force winds on Monday. The latest model tracks for Isaac suggests that the trough of low pressure pulling the storm to the north will not be strong enough to give Isaac a northeastward component of motion when it crosses Tampa's latitude. Thus, Isaac will have difficulty making a direct hit on Tampa without passing over a considerable amount of land first, making a multi-billion dollar hurricane disaster in Tampa very unlikely. I put the odds of a mass evacuation occurring during the convention at 1%; a limited evacuation of people in the Tampa Bay area living in mobile homes in low-lying areas is probably about 5 - 10 % likely. I have detailed information on Tampa's storm surge vulnerability in a post from last week.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Tropical Storm Joyce.

Tropical Storm Joyce forms in the Central Atlantic
The season's tenth named storm of the year, Tropical Storm Joyce, has formed in the Central Atlantic. Joyce's formation on August 23 puts 2012 in a tie for second place with 1995 for earliest formation date of the season's tenth storm. Only 2005 had an earlier appearance of the season's tenth storm, when Tropical Storm Jose formed at 2 pm EDT on August 22. None of the models show that Joyce will be a threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands, but it may be a storm that will affect Bermuda. It is possible that Joyce will complicate the track forecast for Isaac 4 - 5 days from now, when the storms may be close enough together to interact.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting WDEmobmet:


Well I kind of understood that, and I think you answered me in the last of your comment, but I was more wondering why it would fly almost due north of the system trailing somewhat behind it in latitude. I would think that it would sample air out ahead of its projected path as well. Thanks jeffs713


Its sampling the strength and tendencies of the ridge to the north...one of the main determinants of Isaac's track.
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Quoting MississippiBoy2:
=Levi has taken a beaten,undeserved,all he is doing is trying to help ones that don't realy know.What should happen is that the ones that give their thoughts on a storm don't bash ones that give their thoughts that don't agree with theirs.We all need to help one another during the season.Just my thoughts.


There's always the 'crow' remarks on here when somebody misses a track. It's a tradition. Anyway, I look forward to more of his videos and hope that all the attention he's getting on here doesn't stop him from doing that.
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Quoting Chicklit:


I've always enjoyed his videos and am glad he does them and shares them with us.
It's the ardent groupies that get annoying.

True, that.
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270. Relix
Look for the center game!

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/floaters/09L/flas h-swir-long.html

16 65.5?
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Tembin is plunging the pressure pretty quickly...

Observations>Current>East>Lanyu

08/23 23:00 988.5mb >>>> 08/24 00:00 978.8mb 10mb drop in 1hr.

Lanyu is currently in the Southern section of the eyewall. That little island off the SE Coast.



WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
GFS has shifted significantly west of Tampa.



Yes the new GFS run actually looks like the old euro runs from yesterday.

Now hopefully people will listen and realize that jumping the gun with tropical cyclone forecasts will get you burned, especially in situations like this when it is very hard to know the outcome right now.
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Quoting ncstorm:


um the doc said it was going to the yutacan, I havent heard anyone come out against that forecast....there is no idol worshipping, he is a good forecaster and why is he the only one that is being kept score on? I would love to see everyone else's score cards on their forecasts, oh thats right, they are empty


thats because this aint a competition

now back to discussing the WEATHER...
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12Z GFS @ 126hrs, approaching AL/FL border.. WOW!
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Does anyone know the procedure at the NHC as to who actually decides what to forecast in the discussion report. I know they all have the same data, but does the forecaster who "signs" at the bottom of the page , the one who does the forecasting for that time period. Or does it mean as it state. A discussion among all the Mets. there at the NHC.
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Prolly better if TWC sells this site to People Magazine, with all the HS-level personality talk here.
Have fun all!
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I'm not so sure that Isaac is going to turn north anytime soon.
Not seeing that in the next 48hrs, myself.
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Quoting Chicklit:


He does nice videos and makes good speeches, but so far he's 0/2 when it comes to forecast track. And this is not a character assault. Just stating the facts.
Like somebody said. Pay attention to the NHC.
Which is what he is always saying he doesn't always agree with. This is fine.
And no harm done since all this stuff is days away.
It's really not a big deal, but the idol-worshipping on here ad nauseum gets a little old.


even the nhc gets it wrong. apparently some people - even me - sometimes forget this is not even close to an exact science. this thing has consistently tracked south and west of it's projected paths, even by the nhc.
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Quoting jeffs713:

The G-IV doesn't fly into storms. It flies at about 45,000 feet, and puts out dropsondes that sample the air all the way to the surface. The dropsondes read pressure, temp, humidity, and winds. This info is then put into the models, and gives a first-hand view of the environment surrounding the storm. In Isaac's case, the info the G-IV gets will give a much more precise idea of how strong the high is that is keeping him from going poleward... and therefore his potential impact.


Well I kind of understood that, and I think you answered me in the last of your comment, but I was more wondering why it would fly almost due north of the system trailing somewhat behind it in Longitude. I would think that it would sample air out ahead of its projected path as well. Thanks jeffs713

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Quoting weatherb0y:
It appears now that the decoupled LLC and MLC is becoming more unified via RGB satellite channel.

I was thinking the same thing. Looks much more like one circulation than previously.



*EDIT for terrible lapse in sentence structure.
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Quoting Chicklit:


He does nice videos and makes good speeches, but so far he's 0/2 when it comes to forecast track. And this is not a character assault. Just stating the facts.
=Levi has taken a beaten,undeserved,all he is doing is trying to help ones that don't realy know.What should happen is that the ones that give their thoughts on a storm don't bash ones that give their thoughts that don't agree with theirs.We all need to help one another during the season.Just my thoughts.
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Quoting Chicklit:


He does nice videos and makes good speeches, but so far he's 0/2 when it comes to forecast track. And this is not a character assault. Just stating the facts.
Like somebody said. Pay attention to the NHC.
Which is what he is always saying he doesn't always agree with. This is fine.
And no harm done since all this stuff is days away.
It's really not a big deal, but the idol-worshipping on here ad nauseum gets a little old.


um the doc said it was going to the yutacan, I havent heard anyone come out against that forecast....there is no idol worshipping, he is a good forecaster and why is he the only one that is being kept score on? I would love to see everyone else's score cards on their forecasts, oh thats right, they are empty
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Quoting guygee:
Latest GFS forecast. Significant rightward shift this run.



That's the 06z, 12z is actually left of that possible solution.

12z GFS 114hrs 850mb Vort

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latest NAM has Isaac to sfla 84 hrs.












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Here's the thing, if Isaac is heavily struggling to get its act together despite well established outflow, very deep convection, warm water and low shear, the assumption that it will survive passage over the islands and quickly become a hurricane again is highly questionable until Isaac establishes a core. If the current trend of Isaac continues, and Isaac never manages to establish a well developed core during the next 48 hours, Isaac will not be much of a threat to the RNC convention whatsoever accept some street flooding issues from outer bands due to saturated grounds. If Issac stays weak for too long in the Caribbean, it may not even survive passage over Cuba, Cuba could possible cause degeneration to a TD or remnant low lets not forget this. Furthermore if it does survive the passage, I really doubt after crossing it will be any strong than 50 to 60 mph when it gets back over water and that's assuming it survives the passage, it can still take a while over water after striking land for intensification to begin again.

Considering then that it is a large tropical cyclone. We must expect a considerable time of passage needed before restrengthening occurs. Now I realize forecasting intensity can be very poor, so I could be completely wrong here. But based on what I'm seeing, I don't see Isaac even being a significant threat at all right now to the West Coast of Florida unless it strengthens significantly first before impacting the islands.

Because a weak and large disrupted cyclone by land entering the gulf will not only take longer to organize in the gulf, but it will likely go further west than the model consensus if that happens. Yes guys, this would mean far less hype, but just a mere moderate tropical storm making landfall in the central gulf coast cannot be ruled out at all, it's also a very real possible solution.


Although model grouping is tightening and it seems like a good consensus is forming and a far eastern gulf landfall is more likely, the overall outcome is still VERY much in question, and the overall forecast could change very much still even though it hasn't yet.
Am I saying it won't come up into the eastern gulf as a category 1 hurricane? No, All I'm saying the confidence in this happening is deceivingly lower than what you might expect from a tighter model grouping like we have given what I've stated above.


Now, the NHC does well with their forecasts and so I'm sticking close to what they show for now because that's what the best current scenario looks like based on current data, the only difference is right now I think Issac would bend more north in the gulf like the GFS shows rather than just plowing Northwest which doesn't seem that likely to me regardless of how far to the west it makes landfall.

I agree with my local MET Denis Phillips, who is a great tropical forecaster, that the outcome of Issac is and will remain highly unknown really until Saturday because of what is "in the equation" so to speak.
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12Z GFS @ 114 hrs the most Western of its run so far..
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


sadly it is how it works on here...you have respected bloggers, most who are studying to have a job in the field of meteorology or who already do...you have some of us that have a healthy interest in it and some really good knowledge and you have those who do not know squat and only come on here to point out who is wrong and cause drama.

Those in the 3rd category are of no use to this blog and therefore should be ignored and IMO should be banned from the blog due to their only purpose being to start drama.


You forgot the 4th, and likely most populous, group: those of us who "don't know squat", as you so elegantly put it, but are here to learn. We do so mostly by reading and sometimes by asking questions. Occasionally, we interject with comments, especially when we feel we are being overlooked. :>)
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:

The GFS runs now, 12 pm daily.


oops. Meant Central

thx
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Quoting TomballTXPride:
Now VERY interesting the GFS is taking him much further west of the west coast of Florida this time, since usually it's the 06Z & 18Z runs that have the westward bias.

Oh boy. Time to really start thinking about getting preparations in...
What run? Edit: nevermind
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Quoting WindshearWillie:




Ban this clown

Levi does more to educate the posters of this blog than anyone other than the Doc himself.


It looks as if a bunch of kids are teaming up to do some 'Levibaiting'. The same thing happened a few years ago to a poster called StormW, who also created his own in depth analysis with graphics. Don't know if it's the same crowd, or not. You'd have thought they'd have grown up a little in the meantime.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
201. lowerbamagirl 11:57 AM EDT on August 23, 2012

If sheer is low when he emerges off of Cuba into the SE Gulf, and he regains hurricane strength near or after passing the Florida Keys, there should be no major impediment to intensification beyond Cat 1. He is so large, that he would probably continue to feed moisture in from the Gulf and Atlantic so land interaction may not be as huge of an issue until landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast.


Then that begs the question what is the sheer prediction over the next 48-96 hours in the gulf? I have searched through the last 7 or 8 pages and no one seems to be mentioning it.
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Quoting pottery:

BRAVO !

I trust that he has the good sense to ignore the foolish froth being spewed around.
I don't recall any of the "official" models being infallible.


I've always enjoyed his videos and am glad he does them and shares them with us.
It's the ardent groupies that get annoying.
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It appears now that the decoupled LLC and MLC is becoming more unified via RGB satellite channel.
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Quoting reedzone:
After looking at the steering pattern, I just don't see Isaac crossing 85W, but Tampa is a really good possibility, or the big bend. the trough/weakness should recurve Isaac once its near Tampa and move northeast towards the Carolinas.. Also I have the feeling Isaac may not cross Hispaniola, which would lead to a stronger storm.
Hmmm, *draws line from Tampa to NC/SC border*...

Yup, right over his house from the west coast...

LOL!
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Quoting WDEmobmet:


Someone would really have to explain to me the reasoning behind such a planned course. Makes ZERO since to me

The G-IV doesn't fly into storms. It flies at about 45,000 feet, and puts out dropsondes that sample the air all the way to the surface. The dropsondes read pressure, temp, humidity, and winds. This info is then put into the models, and gives a first-hand view of the environment surrounding the storm. In Isaac's case, the info the G-IV gets will give a much more precise idea of how strong the high is that is keeping him from going poleward... and therefore his potential impact.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
When a storm is going to possibly threaten the West Palm Beach area, FPL uses our north parking lot as a staging area. They did it last year when Irene looked as if she could be a potential threat. So far, no call from FPL.


They are staging crews in Daytona Beach on Sunday...

By doing this they are keeping them out of harms way and it's not a bad jumping off point to send them to south or west FL.
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Latest GFS forecast. Significant rightward shift this run.

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70 MPH??

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Quoting Chicklit:


He does nice videos and makes good speeches, but so far he's 0/2 when it comes to forecast track. And this is not a character assault. Just stating the facts.
Like somebody said. Pay attention to the NHC.
Which is what he is always saying he doesn't always agree with. This is fine.
And no harm done since all this stuff is days away.
It's really not a big deal, but the idol-worshipping on here ad nauseum gets a little old.


Let me chime in as well. Forecasting success rates is a little like a batting average in baseball. You can fail 65% of the time and still be a star. Levi has been very helpful with his insight. let's just say that averages even out and the season still has a ways to go!
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Also remember that the West Coast of Florida got raked (and flooded) by TS Debby; if the East Gulf track holds true, and we have a Cat 1 or higher, this system will cause major coastal flooding and storm surge along the entire Gulf coast of Florida (wind issues aside).



I can testify to that. It's not just Debby, but the whole rainy season that's has been very wet. I've had nearly 8 inches of rain in less than a week alone, and last month we ended up with just over 12 inches. The ground is mostly water logged around the whole area. In my opinion though it's natures why of balancing out what seemed like mostly drought over the last 3 years up until this summer.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Observations>Current>East>Lanyu

Pressure: 983.5mb

Tembin has dropped the pressure at this location by 5mb in just 30mins. WOW!!!!


I pray for all those people affected by this storm...especially if it does that loop around.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:


Open two tabs and put these two side by side below. I'd say that's a 80 mile jump to the west in 4 days out. Pretty significant to me. At least enough for me to worry...

Link

Link


yea and yesterday it was in between the two

thats my point, the next GFS very well could be closer to Florida, also you might want to keep watching the run, large system still very close to the west coast of FL
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
12z GFS 850mb

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201. lowerbamagirl 11:57 AM EDT on August 23, 2012

If sheer is low when he emerges off of Cuba into the SE Gulf, and he regains hurricane strength near or after passing the Florida Keys, there should be no major impediment to intensification beyond Cat 1. He is so large, that he would probably continue to feed moisture in from the Gulf and Atlantic so land interaction may not be as huge of an issue until landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast.
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Quoting Tribucanes:
Some here think envy is a horrible thing to waste when it comes to their nitpicking of Levi. He puts himself out there time and time again. He is a huge asset here and yet I here him criticized ten times more than he is ever given thanks for his tireless work. While going to college full time no less. Thanks Levi and those who respect what he does.

BRAVO !

I trust that he has the good sense to ignore the foolish froth being spewed around.
I don't recall any of the "official" models being infallible.
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Quoting TomballTXPride:
Now VERY interesting the GFS is taking him much further west of the west coast of Florida this time, since usually it's the 06Z & 18Z runs that have the westward bias.

Oh boy. Time to really start thinking about getting preparations in...


This is all our WFO (I live in Katy) says about Isaac at this point:

TS ISAAC FORECAST BY NHC TO BE
IN EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO EARLY NEXT WEEK. SO FAR ONLY IMPACT TO
OUR COASTAL WATERS MAY BE SOME INCREASED SWELLS BY TUE- WED. 04
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Quoting lowerbamagirl:
Can someone please explain why Isaac is not likely to strengthen when he reaches the gulf? As I have always understood, the warmer the water the more likely for strengthening. The water is very warm over the gulf right now. I do understand if he stays near the West coast of Florida the land interaction will weaken him. However, if he follows the western most part of the cone, what is to prevent rapid intensification?

I vividly remember Dennis (the first hurricane I did NOT evacuate for). Went to bed to a cat 2 and had a friend call me at 4 am to tell me he was a cat 5. By then it was too late to get out.


I honestly do not know. The NHC is being too conservative IMO. Instead of a Cat 1, I'd expect a Cat 2 in the eastern Gulf, maybe stronger.
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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.