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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At this point, I don't see Isaac becoming even a strong tropical storm before Haiti. It's just so... clumsy.
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Isaac's a mess.
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1372. DVG
My take on the slow speed of strengthening is that the competeing centers that previously existed created gaps in the circulation where dry air has entrained.

IMHO there is one center now. I see two thunderstorms braketing the circulation. One on the west, one on the east side. Over the next hours I think we'll see them extend and connect to create a CDO of the center.
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1371. LargoFl
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Simply put, if Isaac strengthens, south Florida is screwed, if it remains weak, it should be a southern Keys/Florida Straights event.


With what he's doing, the first statement looks to happen.
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1369. Levi32
12z GFDL with the east gulf crew now as well.

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Quoting Levi32:
Rapid-scan Visible loop: Based on low-level cloud motions, can't help but think that the low-level vorticity maximum is closer to Puerto Rico than it seems. Either still binary centers or an elongated north-south center would be my guess.


Looks pretty elongated to me. Stretches from north of the islands straight to Venezuela.
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1367. Buhdog
Sure seems to be running NW now.....this is going to be a fun few days...not.
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1366. LargoFl
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Keep in mind Isaac is a bit more than a dot on a map. His effects will be far reaching, and there's no way FL gets off the hook with nothing at all, even if its just some rain.

sure is a big storm in area alright
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Quoting TexasWynd:
Do yo' reckon it'll come t'Hoeston, Texas?

At this point, it seems highly unlikely. However, at more than five days out, it can't be completely discounted. In three days time, things will be a little more certain.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
Simply put, if Isaac strengthens, south Florida is screwed, if it remains weak, it should be a southern Keys/Florida Straights event.
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1363. LargoFl
Quoting stormtopz1:
all this hype about a florida landfall the last couple of days and the storm is now going to hit us on the central gulf coast!! yikes...
remember floriad's pan handle sits right there
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Station 42059
NDBC
Location: 15.054N 67.472W
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 18:50:00 UTC
Winds: SSW (210°) at 25.3 kt gusting to 31.1 kt
Significant Wave Height: 6.2 ft
Dominant Wave Period: 8 sec
Atmospheric Pressure: 29.68 in and falling
Air Temperature: 78.8 F
Water Temperature: 83.3 F


That's almost right on top of the fix I gave, notice the pressure dropping.

Wind direction imples the CoC is either due west of this buoy, or WNW of this buoy, but not by very large amount...
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Quoting Levi32:
Deep-layer steering analysis at 12z shows a sharp-nosed ridge extending through southern Florida with westerlies in the Caribbean, but Isaac is now west of the anchoring subtropical Atlantic ridge, evidenced by southerly currents due north of the storm. A strengthening tropical cyclone is capable of shaving off thin-nosed ridges like this, and poleward movement is likely to ensue.



Wishcaster...LOL! Just kidding Levi...
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1360. kwgirl
Quoting Grothar:
Making less sense to me.

Maybe my prayers are being answered :)
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Quoting cchsweatherman:
Very interesting to note a whole batch of winds from the SE at 16.5 N and winds from the S at 16.1 N. Shows that the center is indeed right around 16 N and has been continuing to move towards the WNW throughout the day. Not sure where people continue to get this westward or even WSW motion from as the storm has been gradually gaining more latitude all day long.
I see people on here continue to track the MLC closer to 15N. We all have to try and understand and accept that Isaac is still disorganized and not vertically stacked whether we like it or not.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
Quoting Levi32:


You thought I was crazy for saying 50 miles could have made the difference lol.


Ahh, I have to give you grief, its fun!!!..LOL
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Do yo' reckon it'll come t'Hoeston, Texas?
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1356. LargoFl
Quoting WhereIsTheStorm:
Quoting LargoFl:
yes ive been to that site, my house is 45 feet above sea level, im not worried about storm surge, more about wind damage etc, thanks

I lived in Palm Harbor and St Pete for 15 years, I remember watching Dennis Phillips on abc as Charlie moved up the coast and seeing it turn, and Phillips almost yelling on the air that it was turning. And I sat there and went WHEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!

That was scary stuff.


This is the problem with ppl watching the center and not the cone. The ppl in Punta Gorda thought that the storm was going to Tampa. Most thought Charlie was going to Tampa. When the actual turn took place the majority of the ppl in the direct path of the storm were prepared for a direct impact from a hurricane.
Oh yes i was the same way..charley scared me, had the windows etc all boarded up and sat waiting..when they said it was going in..down south of us..whewwww is right
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Quoting Levi32:


Which is very true. It neither discredits nor credits any model a very significant amount, but that situation does expose the smallest of biases in some models.


Afternoon WU, Is Isaac's LLCOC moving WNW it seem its gain some latitude since mourning.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Then it really doesn't make sense that such a reliable model would perform so terribly twice in one year. Debby was its own case though, one of the hardest forecasts of all time. I still have quite a bit of faith in the Euro.


Even after all that, the EURO is the Best overall and the other models are trending west now!
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Quoting snotly:
On satellite it almost looks like it has two mid level circulations and then on the Puerto Rico radar it looks like the lower level circulation is running out ahead of the convection to the northwest.



you may be right does any1 know why hes having sooo much trouble
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The biggest thing the GFS picked up on with Debby is that it never really relaxed the shear coming from the upper low to the west. It kept Debby heavily weighted to the eastern half and thus the center had to keep following the convection to the NE. I don't really see it as the Euro showing more ridging. I look at it as the Euro failing to see that the upper low would not move out of the way as quickly as it thought.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting hurricanejunky:
The models seem pretty tightly clustered this early in the forecast.


thats and old map. the new models come out now for a texas/louisianna landfall.
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Quoting Levi32:
Rapid-scan Visible loop: Based on low-level cloud motions, can't help but think that the low-level vorticity maximum is closer to Puerto Rico than it seems. Either still binary centers or an elongated north-south center would be my guess.


Been noticing that all day long. You can see how the lower cloud motion off to the west is diving south and southwest further north than the analyzed center right now.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
Elongated from 14.7N to 15.3N center at 67.5W


Zoom in to about 10 degrees wide and tall box and watch.


Now, compare to Long Range Radar PR.

PR Radar

Set to long range, and compare landmarks. Turn off the Legend so you can see reference Islands to the east.

The are the same features.
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
AtHome,
You're only about an hour or so from me, so I'll include your area in my ten year Hiatus from hurricanes. Rita, Ike and Gustav were enough.


Thank you. :) We have had enough.
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The models seem pretty tightly clustered this early in the forecast.
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all this hype about a florida landfall the last couple of days and the storm is now going to hit us on the central gulf coast!! yikes...
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

I don't get all the criticism that the Euro gets for Debby. That storm was essentially balancing on the edge of a knife trackwise; exceptionally delicate. Heck, things were so delicate with Debby that I feel like I could have farted and it would have altered Debby's course. :P


More Than Meets the Eye
Hurricane winds can carry with them spores, bacteria, even viruses - in addition to bits of vegetation, animal flesh, and man-made pollutants.

Now I see there's something else to add to the list...
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


EURO had been from Texas to Florida Panhandle and all points in between. The GFS has remained pretty much set on a track? With minor swings?


Not really, the GFS was, but now it has swung well west of Florida now, so that makes the forecast even less likely. I'm sure the NHC is just loving Isaac and it's difficulty of being forecast, lol.


Really though, I bet it's driving them even more nuts then me, because I really have very little confidence in the outcome and path of Isaac.
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1341. Levi32
Quoting weatherguy03:


Excellent, excellent post!!!!! It was that close!


You thought I was crazy for saying 50 miles could have made the difference lol.
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Keep in mind Isaac is a bit more than a dot on a map. His effects will be far reaching, and there's no way FL gets off the hook with nothing at all, even if its just some rain.

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1339. bwi
Isaac is a big system. West winds now way down in Bonaire.
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1338. Levi32
Quoting 1900hurricane:

I don't get all the criticism that the Euro gets for Debby. That storm was essentially balancing on the edge of a knife trackwise; exceptionally delicate. Heck, things were so delicate with Debby that I feel like I could have farted and it would have altered Debby's course. :P


Which is very true. It neither discredits nor credits any model a very significant amount, but that situation does expose the smallest of biases in some models.
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Is the blog eating the posts?
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
great point Levi. I just saw on the weather channel like all the models were going hard right into the egom. did not even see one going west past florida.
Quoting Levi32:


The ghost of Debby is another reason why the Euro should be taken skeptically with its forecasts of ridging north of the Gulf of Mexico until other models join it. The 12z consensus did shift solidly into the eastern gulf though.
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1335. K8eCane
Well based on the most recent, I think we can say this is definitely without question going to be a Texas event
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1334. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #2
TYPHOON JULIAN (BOLAVEN)
11:00 PM PhST August 23 2012
================================

"JULIAN" has accelerated slightly and gained strength for the past six hours

At 10:00 PM PhST, Typhoon Julian (Bolaven) located at 20.4°N 134.3°E or 1,120 km east of Basco, Batanes has 10 minute sustained winds of 80 knots with gusts of 100 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 8 knots.

Additional Information
=========================

Estimated rainfall amount is from 10-20 mm per hour (moderate to heavy) within the 600 km diameter of the typhoon.

Typhoon "JULIAN" is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon that will bring rains over Visayas and Mindanao.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 AM tomorrow.

Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #19
TYPHOON IGME (TEMBIN)
11:00 PM PhST August 23 2012
================================

Typhoon "IGME" has gained strength as it continues to move westward

At 10:00 PM PhST, Typhoon Igme (Tembin) located at 22.9°N 122.7°E or 250 km north of Basco, Batanes has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 90 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 4 knots.

Signal Warnings
===============

Signal Warning #2
---------------

Luzon Region
============
1. Batanes Group of Islands

Signal Warning #1
-----------------

Luzon Region
=============
1. Calayan Group of Islands
2. Babuyan Group of Islands

Additional Information
=========================

Estimated rainfall amount is from 10-20 mm per hour (moderate to heavy) within the 500 km diameter of the typhoon.

TY "Igme" is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon that will bring rains over southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out into the northern and eastern Seaboards of Luzon due to big waves generated by Typhoon "IGME".

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5 AM tomorrow.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

I don't get all the criticism that the Euro gets for Debby. That storm was essentially balancing on the edge of a knife trackwise; exceptionally delicate. Heck, things were so delicate with Debby that I feel like I could have farted and it would have altered Debby's course. :P


Excellent, excellent post!!!!! It was that close!
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1332. scott39
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


EURO had been from Texas to Florida Panhandle and all points in between. The GFS has remained pretty much set on a track? With minor swings?
The GFS has swung from an East Coast landfall to pensacola. I would call that a significant swing.
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1331. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #31
TYPHOON BOLAVEN (T1215)
3:00 AM JST August 24 2012
====================================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon In Sea South Of Japan

At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Bolaven (955 hPa) located at 20.0N 133.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west southwest slowly.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.5

Storm Force Winds
==================
80 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
==================
270 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
======================

24 HRS: 22.4N 131.6E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South Of Japan
48 HRS: 24.4N 129.0E - 90 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) Naha, Okinawa
72 HRS: 27.2N 126.5E - 90 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) East China Sea

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #47
TYPHOON TEMBIN (T1214)
3:00 AM JST August 24 2012
====================================

SUBJECT: Category Three Typhoon Sea South Of Okinawa

At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Tembin (955 hPa) located at 22.4N 121.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 7 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.5

Storm Force Winds
================
55 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
=================
180 NM from the center in the southern quadrant
120 NM from the center in the northern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================

24 HRS: 21.7N 118.7E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
48 HRS: 20.9N 117.7E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
72 HRS: 20.4N 117.8E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:


that spin that you see there S of PR just N of where tha box that says Flash Flood near 16.3N 66.4W is not the LLCOC according to recon that so far says it is SW of that location

RECON is making another pass


;-)
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1329. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:


It did with Debby


The ghost of Debby is another small reason why the Euro should be taken skeptically with its forecasts of ridging north of the Gulf of Mexico until other models join it. The 12z consensus did shift solidly into the eastern gulf though.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


It did with Debby

I don't get all the criticism that the Euro gets for Debby. That storm was essentially balancing on the edge of a knife trackwise; exceptionally delicate. Heck, things were so delicate with Debby that I feel like I could have farted and it would have altered Debby's course. :P

With that being said, it still is strange to see the ECMWF so far west of consensus. I don't think I've ever seen it act like such a maverick before.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
Quoting cchsweatherman:


That was well over an hour ago at around 1:51 PM EDT. Just been going through the most recent data coming in from the aircraft and it reflects a center further north around 15.9 or 16 N right now.


If there is one thing you should learn with this storm, it's that you need to wait until recon shows you where the center is first. Assuming has gotten people nowhere with this one. :-)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
1326. jonelu
Well either way it looks like FL is in for some nasty weather...Im not as worried about wind but Im guessing we will get alot of rain even here on east coast of Soflo. Im not looking forward to the flooding...
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1325. Levi32
Rapid-scan Visible loop: Based on low-level cloud motions, can't help but think that the low-level vorticity maximum is closer to Puerto Rico than it seems. Either still binary centers or an elongated north-south center would be my guess.
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Quoting mikatnight:
Too bad Tropical Cyclones can't read this blog. If they did, they would surely give up and shoot themselves in the eye!


I wonder what Isaac's take on the ECMWF would be...
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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