Isaac is strengthening

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:58 PM GMT on August 24, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac is strengthening. An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft measured surface winds of 60 mph on the east side of the center, about 170 miles south of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, at 8:40 am EDT this morning. Winds at the aircraft's flight level of 5,000 feet were hurricane force, 76 mph. The surface pressure remained fairly high, at 1000 mb. Tropical cyclones have a warm core, and the Hurricane Hunters typically find that a storm's lowest pressure is also where the warmest temperature are. However, this morning's flight found that Isaac was still disorganized, with the storm showing almost no evidence of a warm core. Isaac's warmest temperatures were displaced 75 miles to the west of where the lowest pressure was. There were no signs of an eyewall beginning to build. Infrared and visible satellite loops show that Isaac is somewhat asymmetric, with a large band of intense thunderstorms to the east, separated from the core region. This is interfering with both the storm's low-level inflow and upper-level outflow, but the band appears to be dying out. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows an upper-level outflow channel well-established to the north, and an intermittent outflow channel to the south.


Figure 1. Evening shot of Tropical Storm Isaac taken on August 23, 2012, by the NOAA Hurricane Hunters.

Isaac's rains
Radar imagery from Puerto Rico shows that Isaac is dumping some very heavy rains to the south and east of the center. Ponce, Puerto Rico had a wind gust of 37 mph this morning as a heavy band of rain moved through, and radar-estimated rainfall amounts are in excess of 7 inches for the region just north of Ponce. Power outages to 2,000 homes have been reported in Puerto Rico this morning. NOAA buoy 42085 offshore from Ponce reported a wind gust of 54 mph near 9 am EDT this morning. Rainfall estimates from microwave satellite instruments suggest that Isaac's heaviest rains are to the south of the center, and that the Dominican Republic and Eastern Haiti will escape the worst of Isaac's rains. Haiti's southwest peninsula and Eastern Cuba should suffer the heaviest rains.


Figure 2. Radar-estimated precipitation from the Puerto Rico radar shows the region near Ponce has received up to 7" of rain as of 10 am EDT August 24, 2012.

Latest model runs for Isaac
The latest set of 00Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs have come into better agreement, thanks to the dropsonde mission by the NOAA jet yesterday afternoon and evening. Isaac should move over Haiti's southwest peninsula and then eastern Cuba, then track along the spine of Cuba before popping off into the Florida Straits on Sunday. A trough of low pressure will then pull Isaac to the northwest, and then north, towards the Central Gulf Coast. Landfall locations range from Mississippi (06Z HWRF model run) to the Florida Panhandle south of Tallahassee (06Z GFDL model run.) It is possible that the trough of low pressure pulling Isaac to the north may not be strong enough to pull Isaac all the way to the northeast and out to sea, and the ECMWF model indicates that Isaac could stall out after landfall over the Tennessee Valley for several days.


Figure 3. Predicted 5-day rainfall total ending at 2 am EDT Wednesday August 29, from Tropical Storm Isaac. Graphics were generated from the 6Z (2 am EDT) August 24, 2012 run of the HWRF model. Image credit: Morris Bender, NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Isaac has not intensified as much as predicted, and I think that the storm's very large size is partially responsible for that. It's tough to spin up as much atmosphere as Isaac is attempting to do very quickly. Conditions remain favorable for intensification today, with wind shear low, 5 - 10 knots, ocean temperatures warm, 29°C, and dry air mostly mixed out of the storm's core. The large band of intense thunderstorms to the east, separated from the core region, appears to be dying out now, which will help the storm grow more organized. The storm's structure has improved considerably between 9 am - 10 am EDT, with a fairly tight center forming, exposed to view, on the north edge of Isaac's heaviest thunderstorms. A curved band of heavy thunderstorms is now trying to wrap around this center to the northeast, and this band will bring very heavy rains to Haiti and the Dominican Republic this afternoon. I expect that the Hurricane Hunters will observe a partial eyewall in their vortex reports between 2 - 4 pm EDT this afternoon. The storm's large size and disorganized structure suggests that Isaac will be able to intensify only slowly today, and will have top winds of 70 - 75 mph before encountering Southwest Haiti and Eastern Cuba tonight and Saturday. Isaac will likely be a 50 - 60 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. The upper-level wind pattern favorable may be quite favorable for intensification, with low wind shear due to an upper-level anticyclone over the storm--though the models disagree on whether or not this anticyclone will set up directly over Isaac or not. It will probably take at least 24 hours with the storm's center over water for it to become a hurricane. It is possible that Isaac could be approaching Category 3 strength by the time it makes landfall on Tuesday on the Gulf Coast, as suggested by the latest 06Z run of the HWRF model.

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 17% chance of receiving tropical storm-force winds and a 1% chance of receiving hurricane-force winds on Monday. Tampa is in the NHC cone of uncertainty, though near the edge of it. At a minimum, Tampa will receive very heavy rains and wind gusts in excess of 40 mph. Isaac is going to be hard-pressed to bring hurricane-force winds to the city, though, since any path that takes it close to Tampa would keep the storm too close to land for significant intensification to occur. I put the odds of a mass evacuation being ordered for Tampa during the convention at 1%. I have detailed information on Tampa's storm surge vulnerability in a post from last week.

Invest 97L off the coast of Africa
A tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on Thursday has been designated Invest 97L by NHC this morning. The storm has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorms, and is under moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 97L a 30% chance of developing by Sunday morning. The 8 am EDT SHIPS model forecast predicts that 97L will track west-northwest over the next few days, and encounter a region of high wind shear associated with an upper-level low on Monday and Tuesday. This low may be capable of tearing the storm apart, as happened to Tropical Storm Joyce. None of the models currently foresee that 97L will affect the Lesser Antilles Islands, but 97L may pass near Bermuda 7 - 8 days from now.



20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew
Today, August 24, is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which hit South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds--one of only three Category 5 hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. With Isaac churning through the Caribbean this week, I didn't have time to prepare a special post on Andrew, but our Hurricane Andrew archive page has links to satellite and radar images, newspaper headlines, and 49 YouTube videos. Here's an additional link for an Andrew damage video shot by wunderblogger/storm chaser Mike Theiss, when he was 14 years old.

Jeff Masters

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1211. angiest
Quoting WxLogic:


Here's the pattern:



Thanks.

Shouldn't they also be sampling the NE Gulf?
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Quoting VR46L:


It was the post of the month just my opinion ...
Pity the poster wasted it by posting it with a fake id instead of making a name for himself with a unique one of his own... we could use that lighter touch every now and then...

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Quoting reedzone:


No, it doesn't. As I've stressed this, a storm CANNOT bust through the corner of a developing ridge. It will recurve before or at 85W. Another thing that Levi pointed out is that Isaac will be moving around the weaker ridge, which results in a steering towards Florida. Steering Layers (current steering) is well against the EUROS forecast steering pattern.





Isaac is literally hitting a brick wall when it reaches 85W.


You can't just look at one frame, Reed. You have to look at the evolution of the pattern. The Euro has the continental ridge bridging with the Bermuda high by 144 hours and that's why the Euro has the solution that it has.

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1208. Dunkman
Quoting yonzabam:



1004 mb at the surface is not intensifying. Odd data.


That is nowhere near the center, thus the high pressure.
Member Since: February 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 214
MMIC seems to say that, as i alluded to earlier, the vort max we saw exposed before is not the LLC and the COC is still on its way to the peninsula part of haiti:

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Is it just me or can you also see center is filling in?

http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/templates/loop_di rectory.asp?data_folder=dev/lindsey/loops/goes14&i mage_width=1020&image_height=720&number_of_images_ to_display=50
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It is interesting that the EURO still has Issac so far west. However, in the short term it seems that all the global models show NW movement with either a direct or brush up against the SW Florida coast. This, to me, emphasizes why more than three days out is so difficult to forecast. I do feel that everyone on the west coast of Florida needs to be prepared for TS winds, and heavy rain starting Sunday.
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August 24 11:13 AM
by Joe Bastardi
Jess is driving so I am not doing anything illegal

The track I have is east of the hurricane center with the land fall near or just southwest of Miami a track up through the state a worry The storm may be as strong as a cat 2 or 3 with the first land fall. There is still a chance this tries to ride up the east coast of FLorida.

While it will weaken while over land Monday into Tuesday, its closeness to water will maintain it as a storm that causes major flooding problems as opposed to wind and storm surge with the landfall. The future path lessens the threat to gulf oil areas and to the Florida Panhandle. However the storm is liable to maintain tropical storm conditions in a journey ne through the coastal carolinas, perhaps becoming a hurricane again on its way northeast out to sea.

This is quite different from the NHC at this time, but they are probably going to have to adjust their track later.

The big story is that we have a several billion dollar storm heading for Florida as this large storm will become a hurricane before it reaches the US. In fact the danger is that in the 24 hours the storm is over the Fla straits it could intensify rapidly. The 1935 labor day hurricane went from a tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane in 36 hours. While that is the extreme case, a hurricane hit on Florida with the state the center point of Isaacs wrath into Tuesday is more likely than the option into the oil rich regions

The track represents the midpoint between the eastward course over or on the east coast of Florida, and the national hurricane center more ambitious path to the west, which if it materializes would be a major hurricane IMO
for the oil regions

Ever notice how anyone driving faster than you is nuts, and slower than you is crazy.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


The Euro is consistantly thinking that Issac as was the same with Debby would slip under the TX ridge while the trough bypasses to the north. could be another epic fail for the NHC if they continue to put all it's faith in the Euro.



1, this Euro only differs from the most recent GFS by about 3 or 4 degrees in final 5 day landfall and track.

2, This Euro is actually inside the west-most of the leading 6 models used by Wunderground, meaning it's not even the biggest out-lier of the leading 7 models any more...

3, there is sound reasoning for why a western track could happen under alternate intensity and motion scenarios compared to the GFS.


4, I would rather 1 well-reasoned out-lier than all agreeing anyway, because that gives you an alternate scenario, like saying "ok, but what if this happens instead?"
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Levi32:


I edited it to include 130-150 miles and for some reason it dropped that edit after I opened it a 2nd time.

Ok...math...

150 miles * 5280 feet/mile = 739200 feet

Setting up the triangle from the radar tower in San Juan to a point on the ocean 140 miles away and the 3rd point directly above that at the radar beam. Beam angle is 0.5 degrees, here theta. "y" is the height of the far side of the triangle from the ocean to the beam. "x" is the horizontal distance from the radar tower to the point beneath the beam:

We know that: tan(theta) = y/x

We know everything except y:

y = x*arctan(theta)

y = (739200 feet) * arctan(0.5 degrees) = 6450 feet



They have any Radar specific courses at your school Levi? Definitely one of my favorite Meteorology classes so far with the exception of a few of the pesky radar equations.

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1201. ncstorm
Quoting StormTracker2K:


The Euro is consistantly thinking that Issac as was the same with Debby would slip under the TX ridge while the trough bypasses to the north. could be another epic fail for the NHC if they continue to put all it's faith in the Euro.



I think the GFS isnt right either..the fact that it turns the storm NE after landfalls signifies that a strong trough is there but it has the timing wrong..its just turning it later than sooner which could be the reason in the eastern trends..
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Quoting StormJunkie:
Time: 18:21:30Z
Coordinates: 17.1N 70.3833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 842.2 mb (~ 24.87 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,515 meters (~ 4,970 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1004.0 mb (~ 29.65 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 156° at 67 knots (From the SSE at ~ 77.0 mph)
Air Temp: 15.0°C* (~ 59.0°F*)
Dew Pt: 15.0°C* (~ 59.0°F*)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 70 knots (~ 80.5 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 48 knots (~ 55.2 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 3 mm/hr (~ 0.12 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data

Those winds would have worked down eventually if it wasn't for the mountains heading towards Isaac.

I think you meant to say that YIsaac is heading toward the mountains
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Quoting interstatelover7165:


At least? You're saying Hurricane conditions are possible?
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Quoting alvarig1263:
I see intensifying!

Time: 18:21:30Z
Coordinates: 17.1N 70.3833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 842.2 mb (~ 24.87 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,515 meters (~ 4,970 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1004.0 mb (~ 29.65 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 156° at 67 knots (From the SSE at ~ 77.0 mph)
Air Temp: 15.0°C* (~ 59.0°F*)
Dew Pt: 15.0°C* (~ 59.0°F*)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 70 knots (~ 80.5 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 48 knots (~ 55.2 mph)

SFMR Rain Rate: 3 mm/hr (~ 0.12 in/hr)



1004 mb at the surface is not intensifying. Odd data.
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1196. WxLogic
Quoting angiest:


What area are they sampling?


Here's the pattern:

Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5038
Quoting snotly:
I wonder if the center is following a cork-screw motion, since the storm was so asymmetric before W, SW, WSW, NW so on...



I think you've the idea.
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who in here thinks the euro will be right?

is the high supposed to be strong or the trough supposed to evolve as per the NHC discussion at 11:00?
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1192. Levi32
Hurricane force flight-level winds northeast quad:

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Quoting Stormchaser121:

Actually it does. Ive explained it many times.


No, it doesn't. As I've stressed this, a storm CANNOT bust through the corner of a developing ridge. It will recurve before or at 85W. Another thing that Levi pointed out is that Isaac will be moving around the weaker ridge, which results in a steering towards Florida. Steering Layers (current steering) is well against the EUROS forecast steering pattern.





Isaac is literally hitting a brick wall when it reaches 85W.
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Well as W.C. Fields use to say...A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her.
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Quoting caneswatch:
Local met (West Palm Beach) says the track of the NHC will be back and forth putting South Florida in and out of the error cone. The GFS is the one hitting here the hardest while the Euro is moving west. No doubt about it, South Florida will be at least getting Tropical Storm conditions.
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1187. pottery
Quoting SSideBrac:

Sometimes wise not to pick up strange bundles on Caribbean Beaches!

Yep.
You could get killed. Or very rich.
Horrors either way.....
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1186. angiest
Quoting WxLogic:
With Gonzo doing its survey tonight... should keep the forecast models as accurate as they can be by 00Z/06Z.


What area are they sampling?
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Pressure down to 998 per recon until the extrapolated surface pressure croaked. Wouldn't shock me if it was lower as there wasn't a windshift yet, which means that wasn't the center of circulation.
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1184. WxLogic
With Gonzo doing its survey tonight... should keep the forecast models as accurate as they can be by 00Z/06Z.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5038
16.900N 70.833W
998.5 mb
(~ 29.49 inHg)
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Pressure readings coming back at 998.5, still well to the west of the center amid substantial winds. This storm's stronger than we thought.
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Quoting Unfriendly:



So... landfall will be in the everglades somewhere?

Maybe you didn't get it.


yes, I get it!
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Time: 18:21:30Z
Coordinates: 17.1N 70.3833W
Acft. Static Air Press: 842.2 mb (~ 24.87 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,515 meters (~ 4,970 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1004.0 mb (~ 29.65 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 156° at 67 knots (From the SSE at ~ 77.0 mph)
Air Temp: 15.0°C* (~ 59.0°F*)
Dew Pt: 15.0°C* (~ 59.0°F*)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 70 knots (~ 80.5 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 48 knots (~ 55.2 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 3 mm/hr (~ 0.12 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data

Those winds would have worked down eventually if it wasn't for the mountains heading towards Isaac.
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1179. snotly
I wonder if the center is following a cork-screw motion, since the storm was so asymmetric before W, SW, WSW, NW so on...
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1178. angiest
Quoting hurricanehanna:


hmmmmmm...


Don't know if they will be right, but they have stuck with LA for awhile now.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
Of course the NHC will stick with the Euro when all the guidance is over FL now. This could be bad for the NHC and their credibility.



Dude, give it a break already! All you do is bash when the models and/or other forecasters predit storms wont go over your house!
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Good banding
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1175. Dunkman
Quoting GTcooliebai:
You can't look past the fact that it didn't handle Debby well and missed seeing clearly a trough that was sweeping down and picking her up to the NE. The GFS had a better handle with the strength and timing of the trough, as well as the placement of the ridge.


I would split the difference between the Euro and the GFS which is almost always the correct thing to do because it accounts for each of their biases.
Member Since: February 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 214
Local met (West Palm Beach) says the track of the NHC will be back and forth putting South Florida in and out of the error cone. The GFS is the one hitting here the hardest while the Euro is moving west. No doubt about it, South Florida will be getting Tropical Storm conditions.
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Quoting Michfan:


I don't see how the Euro thinks it can just bust through a ridge like that.
That Ridge has been consistently strong throughout the year and the Troughs are getting progressively stronger as we get closer to the peak, it will weaken the Subtropical Ridge enough to allow the poleward movement to occur earlier.
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1172. Gino99
Quoting WxLogic:


Is not really a model, but the current path it would take if it were to follow the same direction and speed is currently heading.
Quoting BigTuna:
eXTRAPolated.. if the storm continued on its present course at its present speed without deviation. Not a model.


Ah alright then. Thanks for explaining! :D
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Quoting coffeecrusader:
Here are the links to the 12z run of Euro model. Further shift to the west. After clicking on link go down to 12z and choose 500mb Heights/SLP (Atlantic View)

Link


work for a commercial dive company, South LA, and the weather service we get our reports from have been consistently tracking/forecasting toward Mobile Bay.
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very.heavy.storm
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Quoting kinsingmonster:


I think it will be 20-40 miles west of Miami



So... landfall will be in the everglades somewhere?

Maybe you didn't get it.
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I just looked again, and I don't know, but the rnc people may be still in trouble. It is def up in the air.
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Quoting HighPressureLarry:
Has anyone out there in the Caribbean ever found a dropsonde
washed up on the beach?

Sometimes wise not to pick up strange bundles on Caribbean Beaches!
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1166. Levi32
Quoting cat7hurricane:
Nope, not even close.

Look here.

EDIT: I see you edited your post lol. But previously this quote said at 130-150 miles with 0.5 tilt it was 6,000 ft. Reality is it was about 14,000 ft.


I edited it to include 130-150 miles and for some reason it dropped that edit after I opened it a 2nd time.

Ok...math...

140 miles * 5280 feet/mile = 739200 feet

Setting up the triangle from the radar tower in San Juan to a point on the ocean 140 miles away and the 3rd point directly above that at the radar beam. Beam angle is 0.5 degrees, here theta. "y" is the height of the far side of the triangle from the ocean to the beam. "x" is the horizontal distance from the radar tower to the point beneath the beam:

We know that: tan(theta) = y/x

We know everything except y:

y = x*arctan(theta)

y = (739200 feet) * arctan(0.5 degrees) = 6450 feet

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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Euro is very, very consistent that Isaac will become a potent Hurricane in the Gulf. Will it happen? Remains to be seen. Often, the Euro exaggerates with strength.. but that is usually when it is 240 hours out. Conditions do certainly support this scenario but the question is - will it utilize it?


I did noticed the NHC just updated their 11am track for the 2pm. I have a nice supply of crow in my fridge so I can afford making uneducated guesses. I predict it will make landfall east of Panama City FL.
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Quoting presslord:
If I were a bettin' man....and, actually, I am....I'd bet the NHC emerges from all this with their credibility well intact...


The cone for final landfall is extremely good at this point and hard to argue with.

The center line and exact track and intensity is where the big questions are from here on out...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting angiest:
hurricanealley.net (not official)



hmmmmmm...
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1162. A4Guy
I have said this before..but this storm reminds me SO MUCH of Ernesto from 2006. Very similar track from Carib over Cuba, across FL Straits, and into the southern tip of the peninsula. NHC was predicting a potentially strong storm based on the warm waters of the Straits. Unfortunately for Ernesto, he scraped along the coast of Cuba...slowly....and was never able to regain any strength, coming ashore as a weak tropical storm. We got less wind and rain than we do with a typical afternoon T-Storm.
Now, Isaac is moving faster, and the steering currents are more well defined than they were with 2006 Ernesto...but what will make all the difference, it is now clear, is exactly the angle with which he hits Cuba. A more northerly component lets him traverse the straits for a long time....whereas a more westerly component will drag him across land, and, in my opinion, severely disrupt the storm.
Just my opinion. Untrained. Not a profesisonal meteorologist. I follow the NHC track for decisoins, but rely on the NHC Discussions and this site to understand the variables.
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GFS has other models to support it... EURO has a few but not a ton (looks like a west outlier at the moment). Doesn't mean they won't shift west again though. Again, look for patterns with these runs.

What is clear is that SW Florida and the Keys should be under the gun on Sunday/Monday from a strengthening storm.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 580

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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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