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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It seems like Isaac is struggling with dry air slots but not sure where it's coming from as I don't see any ULL's nearby now on the water vapor. Any thoughts on what's causing the ebb and flow of Isaac's convection?
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I do see where the center could be just SW of PR

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The ECMWF has shown a major hurricane hitting Louisiana for the past three days. How is that inconsistent?


It has flipped flopped a bit...but I think it has done the best with the overall track...Still thinking this will travel south of DR and on the Southern Coast of Cuba but we will see....Euro also forseen this storm staying weak
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Quoting cat6band:
So if my math is right(don't count on it)...Isaac has moved WSW since 2pm?? Is that right? At 2 it was at 16N..not it's 15.7N...

NHC's Center fix was a Lie. It was at 15.6 when NHC updated. Now its at 15.7
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1569. intampa
hmm some say isaac getting slowly organized some say still falling apart and looking worse than ever. im so ignorant i cant tell the difference but still fun and informative to read all the post and see all the graphics
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i really think Isaac is at 14N and not where the nhc has it
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Isaac about 22-24 miles south of next forecast point.
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1566. A4Guy
Quoting WPBHurricane05:
Just to put things in perspective…


Ernesto 2006 discussion when he was at the same longitude as Isaac. At this point Ernest was expect to travel into the NW Caribbean and enter the GOM. Of course, it ended up traveling over Cuba and up the middle of Florida.
THE DEPRESSION IS SOUTH OF A LOW/MID-LEVEL RIDGING OVER THE WESTERN ATLANTIC...WHICH SHOULD
KEEP THE SYSTEM MOVING GENERALLY WEST-NORTHWESTWARD. MODEL
GUIDANCE SUPPORTS THIS SCENARIO WITH A TIGHT CLUSTERING OF TRACKS
THROUGH THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN...WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE GFDL
WHICH CONTINUES TO CALL FOR A TRACK OVER CUBA. SOME SPREAD APPEARS
IN THE GUIDANCE AFTER 96 HR...WITH THE GFS AND NOGAPS BUILDING THE
RIDGE ACROSS THE GULF OF MEXICO ENOUGH TO TURN THE CYCLONE
WESTWARD...WHILE THE ECMWF AND CANADIAN MODELS HAVING ENOUGH OF A
WEAKNESS FOR THE CYCLONE TO TURN NORTHWARD.



Action: Quote | Ignore User
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 55 Comments: 7722


Thanks for that. I mentioned the same thing earlier. We were supposed to have a major cane hit SoFla, but Ernesto traveled right along the coast of Cuba, and basically fell apart. We had less rain and wind than a typical afternoon t-storm when he finally made "landfall."
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1565. JLPR2
Isaac shrunk, compared to yesterday when it was 500+ miles from north to south, today it is 449miles and from east to west yesterday it was 800+miles today it is 674miles.
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1564. Levi32
History strongly favors either east Florida scrape or a deep penetration into the west-central gulf.

All tropical cyclones passing within 65nm of the 18z NHC position of Isaac during August and September:

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IMHO Isaac will bomb tonight once that CoC sorts it self out we will also see the Nw movement start west coast Florida were not out of the woods yet!
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You might be a troll if:

You post an unpopular forecast/opinion/forecast and abrasively suggest that you've been right all along over the past few days, when you have under five comments total associated with your account.
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1560. LargoFl
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The ECMWF has shown a major hurricane hitting Louisiana for the past three days. How is that inconsistent?


um, it hasnt been as consistent as the GFS, the Euro keeps shifting further west, not buying it
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Yeah, Isaac is a hot mess. A hurricane before interaction with Hispaniola seems unlikely.
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So if my math is right(don't count on it)...Isaac has moved WSW since 2pm?? Is that right? At 2 it was at 16N..now it's at 15.7N...
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Ding! Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now passing the longitude of Puerto Rico well south and continuing westbound. Enjoy your ride.
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well, this'll be off the scope soon....there's no doppler in the DR that I know of so unless anyone here from Santo Domingo who has a portable NEXRAD we can borry.......

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Quoting tornadolarkin:


I completely agree. Lol I have been asking why he wont organize. Conditions are so good
Seriously, unless Isaac was a hurricane when it came into the eastern Caribbean, we can't really act surprised that it fails to get any better organized though. It's just a massive headache when you have environmental conditions conducive for rapid intensification and the cyclone can barely keep a closed circulation.

Just the trials and tribulations of the eastern Caribbean.
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Be back later i'm on minecraft lol see you all at 5!!:)
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
The Euro has been a bit inconsistent, the GFS has been much more consistent; which is why I would still lean more towards it

The ECMWF has shown a major hurricane hitting Louisiana for the past three days. How is that inconsistent?
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That was the 2nd time a comment I've posted messed up. Must be my computer. 
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1550. kwgirl
Quoting LargoFl:
sure is a big storm in area alright
Everyone is talking about how big this storm is yet do you remember how large Andrew was? Yet the destruction area was not very big and the storm was more wind than rain. We look at cloud cover and think what a mess, when sometimes that's all it is, cloud cover. I like hearing from Puerto Rico and Antilles to see what they have to say what occurred when Isaac came over.
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Days ago the 75-22 door was going to be open for Isaac, but he couldn't get his dynamics together for the exit and a CONUS miss.

Now, the 80-20 window is open, beckoning him, he's still confused and the window may close, the subT is retreating, tomorrow is critical and again if he misses his exit.....Westward Ho!
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No intensification until this is resolved.

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1547. CJ5
Quoting TexNowNM:
IF Isaac were to Hit the Tx/La border what kind of time frame would be involved. Some of you are pretty good at calculating these sorts of things. Yes, I know that is an outlier destination- just asking for a reasonable time frame.


Tuesday/Wednesday
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

THE CENTER IS LOCATED AT 15.7 NORTH. RECON CONFIRMS THIS. ITS NOT MOVING WSW, DUE WEST. OR ANYTHING THAT YOU THINK.

WHAT YOU SEE IS A BUNCH OF BS. All the time.

Finished venting...
Now you can meet my Ignore list. along with your little friend that is thinking the same bs as you.


You have been reported
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1543. DVG
Quoting WPBHurricane05:
Wouldn't be surprised to see another small westward adjustment with the track at 5 pm. Nothing major until the G-IV data tonight. 


I was just looking at the sat presentation and the track. To me it is tracking south but parallel to the official track.

If correct, it would barely scrape Haiti and landfall at Pilon in Cuba.

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am starting too wounder if we been following the worng center


i think its at 14N
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1541. LargoFl
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON SC
ISSUED BY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE COLUMBIA SC
350 PM EDT THU AUG 23 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN COLUMBIA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CHARLESTON COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST SOUTH CAROLINA...

* UNTIL 415 PM EDT

* AT 344 PM EDT...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS RECEIVED
REPORTS OF TWO WATER SPOUTS NEAR THE COAST OF EDISTO ISLAND
MOVING TOWARD LAND.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
EDISTO ISLAND BY 400 PM EDT...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A
WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS
AVAILABLE...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.



LAT...LON 3254 8018 3255 8021 3252 8025 3254 8026
3251 8032 3252 8033 3252 8035 3250 8032
3249 8033 3256 8039 3265 8026 3256 8016
3255 8017
TIME...MOT...LOC 1949Z 084DEG 8KT 3252 8027
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The Euro has been a bit inconsistent, the GFS has been much more consistent; which is why I would still lean more towards it
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
http://radar.weather.gov/ridge/radar.php?rid=JUA&pr oduct=N0Z&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

san juan radar shows what looks like a complex of storms that seems to be COC clearly moving WNW.. NW.. but storm is very unimpressive on radar..
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.
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Center is exposed to view @ 15.6N 67.5



Small blowup of convection to its NE may it can get it to intensify and wrap around the LLC.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Right now, the Euro lies well to the west of model consensus. However, the models are consistently shifting slightly to the west each cycle, so its possible they're slowly catching on to something the Euro has seen all along. It just doesn't make sense that such a reliable model would perform so terribly. I still think its a bit too far west, but don't be surprised to see models keep trending that way.


Ummm wasn't the prior EURO run having a landfall in the Far West Florida Panhandle? Maybe not,Ive been seeing too many model solutions and could be wrong.
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Quoting cyclonekid:
Comment 1492:

You've broken the blog...Please edit or remove your comment.
Oops. Don't know how that happened. 
Fixed. 
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Quoting ILikeIke:

wheres the center? it looks like the whole thing is spinning around one big area

I see a cluster of T-storms NW of Haiti...
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conditions seriously dont get much better! the only thing i can see thats stopping this thing from blowing up its its huge circulation. nothing else...get your stuff tg isaac...ive had it!
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Meanwhile, the costliest hurricane ever to hit the United States was born in one hour seven years ago.

ZCZC MIATCDAT2 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
TROPICAL DEPRESSION TWELVE DISCUSSION NUMBER 1
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
5 PM EDT TUE AUG 23 2005

DATA FROM AN AIR FORCE RESERVE UNIT RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT...ALONG
WITH OBSERVATIONS FROM THE BAHAMAS AND NEARBY SHIPS...INDICATE THE
BROAD LOW PRESSURE AREA OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS HAS BECOME
ORGANIZED ENOUGH TO BE CLASSIFIED AS TROPICAL DEPRESSION TWELVE.
THE INITIAL INTENSITY OF 30 KT IS BASED RECON WINDS OF 39 KT AT 800
FT...AND SHIP A8CI9 REPORTING 30-KT SUSTAINED WINDS AT 18Z IN THE
NORTHEAST QUADRANT. UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW IS WEAK...BUT IMPROVING AS
A SMALL ANTICYCLONE HAS BEEN DEVELOPING ABOVE THE LOW-LEVEL CENTER.

THE INITIAL MOTION ESTIMATE IS AN UNCERTAIN 310/07. THE LOW-LEVEL
CENTER HAS BEEN REFORMING WITHIN A LARGE CLEAR AREA NOTED IN
SATELLITE IMAGERY. HOWEVER...FLIGHT-LEVEL RECON WINDS CLEARLY
INDICATE A BROAD BUT OTHERWISE WELL-DEFINED LOW-LEVEL WIND FIELD.
THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL SMALL VORTICES DEVELOP WITHIN THE
CONVECTION IN THE EASTERN SEMICIRCLE AND THEN ROTATE WESTWARD OUT
FROM UNDER THE CONVECTION. THE INITIAL POSITION IS ROUGHLY THE
GEOMETRIC CENTER OF ALL THE SMALL SWIRLS...BUT SOME RE-ORGANIZATION
OF THE CENTER WITHIN THE CONVECTION IS POSSIBLE. TD-12 IS EXPECTED
TO CONTINUE MOVING SLOWLY NORTHWESTWARD TOWARD A WEAKNESS IN THE
MID-LEVEL SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. THIS WEAKNESS SHOWS UP BEST IN 500 MB
DATA...AND THEN DISAPPEARS BELOW AND ABOVE THAT LEVEL. BY 36-48
HOURS...ALL OF THE GLOBAL MODELS AND THE GFDL MODEL FORECAST THE
WEAKNESS TO FILL AND BE REPLACED BY A BROAD EAST-WEST ORIENTED
RIDGE. THIS SHOULD HELP TO DRIVE THE CYCLONE MORE WESTWARD ACROSS
SOUTHERN FLORIDA IN 60-72 HOURS...AND THEN INTO THE EASTERN GULF OF
MEXICO BY 96 HOURS. THIS SCENARIO IS CONSISTENT WITH THE NHC MODEL
CONSENSUS AND THE DEVELOPING SYNOPTIC PATTERN.

THE INTENSITY FORECAST IS A LITTLE TRICKY DUE TO THE UNCERTAINTY ON
EXACTLY WHEN A WELL-DEFINED CENTER WILL DEVELOP AND HOW SOON
CONVECTION WRAPS AROUND THE WEST SIDE OF THE CIRCULATION. THE
UPPER-LEVEL FLOW IS FORECAST TO REMAIN STRONGLY DIFLUENT FROM THE
NORTH FOR THE NEXT 24-36 HOURS...AND THEN BECOME NORTHEASTERLY TO
EASTERLY AFTER THAT. SINCE THE SHEAR IS ALSO FORECAST TO REMAIN
RELATIVELY LOW AT AROUND 10 KT AND SSTS WILL BE NEAR 31C UNDER THE
CENTER...AT LEAST STEADY INTENSIFICATION APPEARS TO BE IN ORDER. IF
CENTRAL CONVECTION DEVELOPS WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS...THEN THIS
SYSTEM COULD REACH HURRICANE STRENGTH BEFORE IT MAKES LANDFALL. THE
OFFICIAL INTENSITY FORECAST IS SLIGHTLY LOWER THAN THE SHIPS MODEL.

THE NWS RULES GOVERNING THE NAMING OF TROPICAL CYCLONES SPECIFY
THAT...WITHIN A BASIN...WHEN A CYCLONE FORMS FROM THE REMNANT OF A
PREVIOUSLY EXISTING CYCLONE...THE OLD NAME/NUMBER IS RETAINED.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION TWELVE HAS A COMPLEX GENESIS THAT LIKELY
INCLUDES A MID-LEVEL REMNANT OF FORMER TROPICAL DEPRESSION TEN. A
REVIEW OF SATELLITE AND RAWINSONDE DATA OVER THE PAST WEEK OR SO
SUGGESTS THAT A SECOND DISTURBANCE APPROACHED AND COMBINED WITH THE
MID-LEVEL REMNANT OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION TEN ON 20 AUGUST. BECAUSE
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE WHICH OF THESE TWO SYSTEMS IS
ASSOCIATED WITH TODAY'S GENESIS...WE HAVE ELECTED TO USE THE
DESIGNATION TWELVE RATHER THAN TEN FOR THE NEW DEPRESSION. THIS
SITUATION DIFFERS FROM LAST YEAR'S REGENERATION OF IVAN...IN WHICH
THE LOW-LEVEL REMNANT OF THAT SYSTEM REMAINED A DISTINCT FEATURE
THAT COULD BE FOLLOWED CONTINUOUSLY UNTIL IT REGENERATED.

FORECASTER STEWART


FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 23/2100Z 23.2N 75.5W 30 KT
12HR VT 24/0600Z 24.0N 76.5W 35 KT
24HR VT 24/1800Z 25.0N 77.7W 40 KT
36HR VT 25/0600Z 25.7N 78.5W 45 KT
48HR VT 25/1800Z 26.0N 79.4W 60 KT
72HR VT 26/1800Z 26.3N 81.0W 50 KT...INLAND
96HR VT 27/1800Z 26.5N 83.5W 60 KT
120HR VT 28/1800Z 27.5N 86.0W 65 KT

$$

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Rough day for Taiwan.



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Blog jacked up.

This looks like a mid level storm cruising the Central Caribbean

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I'm not liking the new model runs--a bit! PC Beach is currently smack-dab in the center of the doom-cone...and whats with the wicked curve to the Northeast right after landfall?
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Id there another center.forming?
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Yep she was one of my evacuations but she didn't come this far though. Sitting south of Port Arthur as a major leaving seemed like a good idea at the time. :)

She came right over me...actually got to see the eyewall...it was cool. Just very grateful it did not make landfall as a 4. Did enough damage and spawned lots of tornadoes though.
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1524. CJ5
Quoting KeyWestbeachcomber:
Key west here...ya'll think I should get some groceries in? Any input appreciated,thanks.


Considering all major model put the storm in your front door, yes, I would make some preparations.
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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.