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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Quoting SFLWeatherman:
N of all of them
if the NW jog continues or becomes a trend it will not be over cuba very long it will reemerge over the atlantic and the is high TCHP in that region and that would put more bad weather across southern florida
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Someone in the WPac is making a run at strong category 4 strength.

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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I agree, but I know that the people I see day to day have no idea that a Charley like scenario is even possible here. I've lived in Melbourne, jacksonville, and a couple areas around Tampa. People are seriously lacking an understanding of hurricanes and think Tampa is safe all the time.


I honestly doubt that anyone who reads this blog would get that impression. Maybe there are plenty of people in the general populous who think this way but I would doubt that as well, at this point. This is the Information Age and anyone who has ever seen a local television news presentation in the Tampa Bay area knows that hurricanes are an issue here because the local media and local governments drive home the point all the time.
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BAHAMAS INCLUDING CAY SAL BANK-
1124 AM EDT FRI AUG 24 2012

...TROPICAL STORM WARNING...

.THIS AFTERNOON...E WINDS 20 TO 25 KT. ATLC EXPOSURES...SEAS
10 FT...BUILDING TO 12 FT LATE. ELSEWHERE...SEAS
6 TO 8 FT. SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED TSTMS.
.TONIGHT...E WINDS 25 TO 30 KT. SEAS 10 TO 15 FT ATLC
EXPOSURES...AND 7 TO 10 FT ELSEWHERE. NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND
SCATTERED TSTMS.
.SAT...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS EXPECTED. NE TO E WINDS 25 TO
30 KT...INCREASING TO 30 TO 35 KT LATE. SEAS 10 TO
15 FT. NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND SCATTERED TSTMS.
.SAT NIGHT...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS EXPECTED. E TO SE WINDS
25 TO 30 KT ATLC EXPOSURES...AND E 35 TO 40 KT ELSEWHERE. SEAS
11 TO 16 FT.
.SUN...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS POSSIBLE. ATLC EXPOSURES...SE
WINDS 25 TO 30 KT...DIMINISHING TO 20 TO 25 KT LATE.
ELSEWHERE...E TO SE WINDS 40 TO 45 KT...BECOMING SE 45 TO 50 KT
LATE. SEAS 10 TO 15 FT.
.SUN NIGHT...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS POSSIBLE.
.MON...ATLC EXPOSURES...SE WINDS 15 TO 20 KT. ELSEWHERE...SE TO
S WINDS 25 TO 30 KT...DIMINISHING TO 20 TO 25 KT
LATE. SEAS 8 TO 11 FT.
.MON NIGHT...SE WINDS 15 TO 20 KT. SEAS 6 TO 8 FT.
.TUE...SE TO S WINDS 15 TO 20 KT...DIMINISHING TO 10 TO 15 KT
LATE. SEAS 5 TO 7 FT.

$$
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557. emguy
Quoting Bluestorm5:
That's nice to hear that. Someone should be in Haiti as well.


Agreed! Because if they get hit as bad as I fear, this story needs to be told so people see it and help. I heard that people will not leave their tents for shelter because all of there belongings are in the tents and they do not want to leave them unattended. This is highly sad news.
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Flooding is occuring in Puerto Rico as the tail of Issac is over us.



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it so going NW!!
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
Take a chill pill Cods. Blue was just trying to remind people that this is going to Haiti too and it's going to go downhill for them very VERY soon.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2556
Quoting will40:




GFS not up the east coast of Fla


The TWC just showed the (3-4day isobar type) progression of the GFS and they took it up the west coast my bust on sides. I'm trying to figure out if its a long shot for the European direction over here towards MS.
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Quoting Msdrown:
Alright the TWC just showed the GFS taking the storm up the east coast of fl. You have most models showing similar except the out flyer european. What is the best bet? When will that High in the centra GOM move out and how will that affect the track??


No it doesn't.

The consensus on the GFS is west coast.

It still has at least one ensemble member as far west as the Mouth of the Mississippi, and a couple members still cut LEFT hooks after landfall.


I wish people would pay closer attention to the most recent updates. The last GFS on the East Coast must have been like 48 hours ago...I don't know I forget...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Why are we talking about USA landfall when we should be worry if Isaac will be a hurricane or not before Haiti. If you look (and I mean LOOK) at this picture, you can see that 7,000 Haitians is living in this area trying to prepares for Isaac.

img style="max-width: 501px;" src="http://i.imgur.com/4byyO.png">
OMG!!!!!!!! This breaks my heart! So very very very SAD!
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Quoting islander101010:
he.goes.to.cuba.i.cant..what.gives?
LOL, I was thinking the same thing.
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So the next recon should be in air any moment?
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I'd say the LLCOC is soemwhere near 16N/16.3N 70.7W/70.9W maybe just a tad S

I want RECON to fly in and show us what in the world is going on

by the way recon should be lifting off in about 10-20mins time
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12716
N of all of them
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
Quoting tropicfreak:


There is no way a storm can bust through a ridge like that.... you should read again.


I know what I read. What I read is wrong. Anyone saying that only Florida is at risk is wrong - dead wrong - at this point. We don't even know how strong the ridge will be or how strong Isaac will be. It's silly to declare the entire Gulf coast out of danger when the storm is still south of Hispanola.
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Quoting BrandiQ:
Ok so I might be a little slow here but.... I live in Ft. Lauderdale and have been watching this storm for days... I don't want to wait too long before preparing... I have supplies but want to know when will I know if I should put up the shutters? ...


Of course follow the NHC guidelines, but here is what I do.

When a Public Advisory comes out it will normally give you the distance from the storm, the extent of tropical storm force winds and the speed. So look for three pieces of information. You will want to use nm and mph or km and km/h. Don't mix the two.

1) LOCATION...16.3N 70.8W ABOUT 185 MI...300 KM SSE OF PORT AU PRINCE HAITI

2) TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD< UP TO 185 MILES...295 KM
FROM THE CENTER.

3) PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 295 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H

Clearly in Haiti they should be prepared by now since tropical storm force winds extend 185 miles and the storm is about 185 miles from Port Au Prince.

-------------------
Step 1: number of miles from storm center minus number of miles the tropical storm force winds extend in Haiti's case 185 -185= 0. They are about out of time to prepare.

Step 2: divide the storm's speed along the track (not the wind speed) by the number of miles in step 1.

This will give you approximately the number of hours until tropical storm force winds reach your area.

Say you live in Key West and the advisory tomorrow morning says Issac is 500 miles SSE of Key West. The tropical force winds extend 150 miles and the speed is 15 mph.

500-150 = 350 miles from the approximate edge of tropical force winds.

350 miles divided by 15 mph = 23 hours. That is the approximate number of hours before it would be too windy to put up shutters, but I would add some time in case the forward speed increase or the tropical storm force winds move out further.

This just gives you a rough guide -- but always follow the recommendations of official agencies. You can play with the speed and extent of tropical force winds to give yourself some wiggle room.
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he.goes.to.cuba.i.cant..what.gives?
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I don't put up shutters unless it is at least a category 2 storm, and is predicted to hit in less then 24 hours.
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Quoting emguy:
This is real news...not a joke. The Weather Channel is going international with deploying broadcast teams into hurricanes. They just announced that Mike Sidell is already in Cuba. It's their first intenational deployment of crews into hurricanes.
That's nice to hear that. Someone should be in Haiti as well.
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Quoting LargoFl:
this cmc model has miami in its sights huh
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rain.in.the.keys..tough.to.evacuate
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


not sure that is really the center, that swirl we are seeing, might be one of those vort maxes
On Ir you if you trace the convec over that swirl back, you see it came out of the big mass of convec and if rotating in a circular fashion...it maybe not be the tru COC and the center might be where the greater mass of convection is wrapping around:



I'm waiting to see as well, but the deal is this time several different spectra on the satellite agree with a slightly N fix from the convection.

It's still possible, since that was the mistake that was being made all day yesterday, but the likelihood of a large fix error has gone down some compared to yesterday afternoon and evening.

Everything since the 1415 frame on visible has been in decent, though not perfect, agreement with the official fix, somewhere between my fix and the official, which means it's not off by much either way; maybe 3/4 of a degree...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
537. emguy
This is real news...not a joke. The Weather Channel is going international with deploying broadcast teams into hurricanes. They just announced that Mike Sidell is already in Cuba. It's their first intenational deployment of crews into hurricanes.
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Quoting HoustonTxGal:
I never put stock in anything the weather ch has to say.... every time I have tried to go to their broadcast for weather info, they have some storm story about a blizzard 20 years ago! lol
the only person that i have alot of respect for is bryan norcross he is one of the best hurricane experts in the field
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Quoting Msdrown:
Alright the TWC just showed the GFS taking the storm up the east coast of fl. You have most models showing similar except the out flyer european. What is the best bet? When will that High in the centra GOM move out and how will that affect the track??


The 12z GFS is still running. I've been watching it come out frame by frame. GFS has it hitting extreme S FL now, but then jogging west up the SW coast and finishing off Tampa, or just offshore Tampa as a strong Cat1, then heading up into the Big Bend as the same.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

There's only so much you can talk about regarding a Hispaniola landfall, Blue. Get off our backs.
Really? 5+ is getting off people's backs? I'm just saying people are too focusing on USA when we should be worried for Haiti as well.
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Isaac is going to put us all in the nut house trying to figure him out.
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532. A4Guy
Quoting RTSplayer:


That's a denialist comment, considering Charley was about the same strength when it was in the closest analog position as Isaac.

The official intensity forecast is based on statistics and dynamics assuming the track forecast is correct.

If the storm takes the western side of the cone, which is very close to both Charley and Climatology for a storm in this position, then it would probably be much more intense than the center line of the cone.


Remember, this is not an exact science, in spite of the advanced models and technology involved. The intensity forecast is often wrong by a category or two beyond 48 hours, and the NHC and FEMA usually tells people to prepare for a category or two higher than the forecast, just in case...


Charley did not travel along the spine of Cuba...didn't he cross the western end...and therefore, spent a lot less time over land (and was alot stronger at the crossing due to traveling across the warm, deep western carib).

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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Seems like a reasonable approach.
looks likely Isaac may reach minimal hurricane status before landfall in haiti/cuba
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336HR
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4984
Quoting vlaming:


i am in miramar, i will hang on to see in what shape it comes off the islands before deciding.


Depending on how hard it is to put them up in windy conditions I'd do it before it gets to cuba.

The TWC said its winds will be high in southern fla before it reaches the straights.
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Quoting alvarig1263:


I believe this was from yesterday. I don't think they've updated the 12Z yet today.


must you use bold?
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
cchs looks to me TS watches would be issued for mainland south florida from jupiter inlet to florida city and around to bonita beach, and a hurricane watch for the Florida keys what do you think ??


Seems like a reasonable approach.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


not sure that is really the center, that swirl we are seeing, might be one of those vort maxes
On Ir you if you trace the convec over that swirl back, you see it came out of the big mass of convec and if rotating in a circular fashion...it maybe not be the tru COC and the center might be where the greater mass of convection is wrapping around:

Link
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Quoting Msdrown:
Alright the TWC just showed the GFS taking the storm up the east coast of fl. You have most models showing similar except the out flyer european. What is the best bet? When will that High in the centra GOM move out and how will that affect the track??




GFS not up the east coast of Fla
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Convection is nearly wrapped around the center.

Yes....looks like it's finally congealing over one center. Could go BOOM.
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Quoting cirrocumulus:


This blog is a lot better than TWC for following storms. TWC is OK for some stuff except usually they are showing stories when you need some weather. Of course now they are about to station observers out there in the "cone" and cover the same trees blowing in the wind every few minutes.


Agree, I hardly ever watch the weather channel. Every time I try to watch the weather, they have a STORM STORY on about some snow storm in NY 12 years ago! lol
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Quoting MississippiWx:
It's easy to see Isaac's center on rapid scan visible loops. It is at least halfway exposed. I wouldn't expect much strengthening until that problem is corrected.


True......But it has finally become better defined and he is trying to close it off if he can wrap some convection around it.

Link
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Quoting Dunkman:
Just a statement about model bias. The GFS tends to overdo troughs and the Euro tends to overdo ridges. So it kinda makes sense that the Euro went way west, and it also makes sense that the GFS is trending east. My money is still on Pensacola.


I can respect that reasoning. I think the runs from today will have data from a whole bunch of samples taken away from the storm to gauge a more accurate reading of the strength of the Bermuda high. Maybe 12z already has that. I'm not sure.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Why are we talking about USA landfall when we should be worry if Isaac will be a hurricane or not before Haiti. If you look (and I mean LOOK) at this picture, you can see that 7,000 Haitians is living in this area trying to prepares for Isaac.


There's only so much you can talk about regarding a Hispaniola landfall, Blue. Get off our backs.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Why are we talking about USA landfall when we should be worry if Isaac will be a hurricane or not before Haiti. If you look (and I mean LOOK) at this picture, you can see that 7,000 Haitians is living in this area trying to prepares for Isaac.


Prayers for Haiti
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Quoting LargoFl:
Largo thank you very much!! for such great!!! informative!! weather graphs,keep up the good work!.
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Quoting dolphingalrules:


i live in west pembroke pines....i also thinking do i put shutters not shutters?????


i am in miramar, i will hang on to see in what shape it comes off the islands before deciding.
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Mid and low level are still slightly out of alignment, which is one reason the LLC is partially exposed. It's not too bad though. One SW wobble from the LLC would probably fix it.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Alright the TWC just showed the GFS taking the storm up the east coast of fl. You have most models showing similar except the out flyer european. What is the best bet? When will that High in the centra GOM move out and how will that affect the track??
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Why are we talking about USA landfall when we should be worry if Isaac will be a hurricane or not before Haiti. If you look (and I mean LOOK) at this picture, you can see that 7,000 Haitians is living in this area trying to prepares for Isaac.

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Quoting MississippiWx:
It's easy to see Isaac's center on rapid scan visible loops. It is at least halfway exposed. I wouldn't expect much strengthening until that problem is corrected.


not sure that is really the center, that swirl we are seeing, might be one of those vort maxes
On IR you if you trace the convec over that swirl back in time, you see it came out of the big mass of convec and is rotating in a circular counterclockwise fashion, showing up here in black
That swirl may not be the tru COC and the center might be where the greater mass of convection is wrapping around, and where this swirl is rotating around.:

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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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