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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1661. GoWVU
I am trying to digest all of the chatter on this blog and watch the weater channel. So it looks like the East Coast/South Carolina should get some rain and not really worry about the real nasty stuff?
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Quoting jeffs713:

You ***-caster!
Take out the "you" and you get to have fun with hypocatastasis.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Here's my latest track forecast. Similar to the one I made three days ago for the short term. Midpoints aren't drawn, but I still think South Florida or just west of there over the Keys. From there I expect it to enter the Gulf and then make landfall around the central Florida Panhandle. The track consensus is a little west of there at the moment, although I am pretty inline with the consensus. Anyway, I like the strong consistency among the GFS ensembles and the track shown by the 12z UKMET (especially the curve back to the north, rather than a due NW heading). Canadian likely too far east, while the ECMWF is likely too far west, and also don't think Isaac will continue on that NW heading for so long.

I suppose if I put a midline down the track it would look something like this. Obviously, there is a greater model spread to the west of the model consensus, so I have greater uncertainty on that side. Also keep in mind my track forecast over and around Cuba is pretty uncertain because land interaction and mountains can do some tricky things. I'd pay more attention to the passage south of Florida and then the position of the panhandle landfall.

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1658. RickWPB
I read where someone posted...

"THE 06Z/12Z GFS AND 12Z CANADIAN SOLUTIONS HAD TO BE THROWN OUT BY DEFAULT"

...so went looking for it. This was in the 'extended forecast' discussion. Here's a quote:

EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD
229 PM EDT FRI AUG 24 2012

VALID 12Z MON AUG 27 2012 - 12Z FRI AUG 31 2012

...ISAAC EXPECTED TO MOVE INTO THE MID-SOUTH BY NEXT FRIDAY...

THE WESTERLIES ACROSS THE NORTHERN PACIFIC ARE NORTH OF WHAT IS
NORMAL FOR LATE AUGUST. THIS FORCES ENERGY TO POOL DOWNSTREAM,
ACROSS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, WITH DOWNSTREAM TROUGHING EXPECTED
ACROSS THE NORTHEAST AND A WARM CORE RIDGE EXPECTED TO WAVER IN
POSITION AND STRENGTH BETWEEN THE CENTRAL ROCKIES AND CENTRAL
PLAINS. THE DETERMINISTIC AND ENSEMBLE MEAN GUIDANCE IS IN GOOD
AGREEMENT ON THESE GENERAL IDEAS. THE MODEL CHOICE THIS PERIOD
WAS PARTIALLY CONSTRAINED BY THE LATEST NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER
(NHC) FORECAST FOR ISAAC, WHICH RESEMBLED THE 12Z UKMET THROUGH
THURSDAY MORNING. A 00Z GFS/00Z ECMWF COMPROMISE WAS USED
THEREAFTER, WITH INPUT RECEIVED FROM NHC REGARDING TROPICAL
SYSTEMS AT 17Z. THE 06Z/12Z GFS AND 12Z CANADIAN SOLUTIONS HAD TO
BE THROWN OUT BY DEFAULT. THIS LED TO REASONABLE CONTINUITY WITH
THE MID-MORNING PRESSURES.

...snip
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Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7913
Quoting StormTracker2K:


Everything Ok?
Oh yeah yeah, nothing happened hahaa.
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Quoting Levi32:


I want FSU, but we'll have to see how that goes.


I lived in Anchorage/ Eagle River, Alaska and was in Jacksonville, Florida on assignment for State Farm and currently live in Spring, Texas. Let me just say I have traveled extensively all over the country and Alaska is by far the best place in the US to live. Especially on the Keni Peninsula. I hope one day I can talk the wife and kids to move up there. The summers sure are better than in Houston or Florida. FSU is a great school tho for meteorology.

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dry air will not be a concern for Isaac within 24-36 hrs as he ramps up. MJO bombing in GoM is making tons of water vapor. SAL pocket in western caribbean is caving inwards from all directions...

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1653. wpb
Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop
levi watchs for s fla keys at 5pm?
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Quoting Surferdude:
Welcome to Florida ...we have been expecting you.

I am jumping on the bandwagon(didn't think he would make it), Isaac is getting serious now. Will be Hurricane Isaac by 2am giving the current intensification...close to 994mb now and moving NW...

Levi's track seems very reasonable. Best dude we have on this blog.


Yes, Levi is a class act regardless if you agree with him or not.
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Quoting weatherconch:
Link

Heres a cool view if you have a big monitor.


that really puts it into perspective.
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Recon vortex data messages have made no remarks about an eyewall forming so there is no eye yet.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
NHC losing their marbles if there isn't a considerble eastward shift in the forecast cone.


Don't know about considerable, they want to avoid the "windshield wiper" affect. I would think a move eastward, at least for South Florida will occur.
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There is one thing for sure about Isaac. It is NOT going WEST! 305 degree heading is not West.
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Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop


So cool to watch...
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Never mind…looks like a dry slot. Gotta put the vis on loop.
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Quoting hurricanejunky:
None of these models go any further west then the FL/AL border. Not sure why the cone is that far west now...



Because about half of those models are crap anyway, and the most reliable model, the Euro, is not on that graphic (for legal reasons,) and it takes the storm much farther west.


Moreover, the consensus output of any one model is not set in stone, that is just the line representing the highest probability calculated by that model's members.

Even the GFS is not one center line. It's lots of members that are all over, though on this particular run the GFS members are closer to it's own consensus than on the two previous runs, still on the previous runs even the GFS had members going far to the west, even outside the cone.

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1644. Grothar
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25491
Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop

Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your post.
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1642. HrDelta
Quoting CybrTeddy:
The most significant thing about the 18z model run suite (for me) was the fact that the model consensus now is now the TVCA is, like we mentioned, only showing Isaac briefly making landfall with Cuba instead of traversing half the length of the island as the NHC has it doing. The TVCA for those who don't know much about the models, is the mean or average of all the model runs. You will often find that the NHC follows usually pretty close to the TVCA.


Also, it does make landfall on Haiti, but doesn't stay on land very long.
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1641. WxLogic
Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop


Would have been pretty nice if you could pick out the HH planes as they are making their rounds.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4948
Quoting DrMickey:


The Caymans...is that like "The Carolinas"?

Not to the same degree, but it does identify someone as a tourist/foreigner.

The point is, Isaac could very well pass closely to two of the three Cayman Islands just as easily as it could pass very closely to Miami.
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Quoting weatherconch:
so is the cone shifting east at 5? Sorry been gone all day.


It very well may be shifting east at 5. Which everyone doesn't seem to get. But we'll have to wait and see.
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Link

Heres a cool view if you have a big monitor.
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Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop


just beautiful...
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Eye see an eye in Eyesaac.
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I don't see the cone changing much in the 5pm due to the Euro staying so far west. Intensity will bump up to 65-70mph though.
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Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop


Now THAT is awesome.
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Afternoon everyone, FPL is in full storm prep mode. Working an extra day tomorrow, and possibly doubles this coming week(that's up to Isaac), I see the models are holding steady with the solution to scrape SWFL before continuing on to the panhandle. Should be interesting to see how much land Isaac interacts with...
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Isaac doesn't want to go over those mountains unless he has to. Path of least resistance is through the passage. Interested to see the motion once he gets there.
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Quoting angiest:
hurricanealley.net (not official)




I don't think it can get that far west due to the high pressure ridge in mexico, the low setting up in the GoM, and the steering winds from the high to the northeast of Isaac in the Atlantic

I do see it making it past Haiti and DR without making a landfall with either the surface low or the deepening mid level around 16N 71W.,.....and I think this is now slowing down and pulling itself together, or in other words, aligning vertically by aligning mid and low level windfields....I honestly see it making a beeline for Jamaica and staying over water with the center under Cuba as it heads to Western Cuba.....At a point it is gonna want to turn hard north as it feels the MJO in the GoM and the high ridge in the atlantic.....
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Quoting presslord:
yea...those NHC guys are a bunch of losers....they should trade in their education, reputations, years of experience, virtually unlimited budgets, cutting edge technology...and just lay around their Mother's house in their dirty underwear, scratching their crotches and and posting to this blog...then they'd get some respect...


Fanboy!
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Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop


VERY COOL!
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Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop



now that's pretty awesome.
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There's ur eye, errr dry slot I mean..

Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7340
Quoting Levi32:
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop


Not to sound off topic too much, I was there for the GOES-14 (then GOES-O) launch in person. Link You can tell by 19 seconds into the video what I was really there for ;)
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23638
1625. LargoFl
ARASOTA --
Pasco County has joined Sarasota County in declaring a local state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac's potential impact.
Pasco County
Pasco Co. officials said the county's Emergency Management is in "constant contact with state and regional emergency agencies."

Officials encourages those in the county to contact the Resident Information Center at 727-847-2411/8959 for information. The RIC open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The center is there "to assist residents and visitors' preparation for the approaching severe weather," officials said.
Sarasota County
According to a statement Thursday afternoon, the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center is at a" Level 3 monitoring status" as Isaac moves through the Caribbean on a general path toward the southwest Florida area.
Isaac's Latest Track

"Declaring a local state of emergency is a proactive measure to allow Sarasota County to be prepared for any unforeseen expenditures due to the storm," the county said, "and to use the county's emergency operations plans." The reasoning applies to Pasco and any other counties that may declare states of emergency ahead of Isaac.
Officials said the declaration provides the county the authority to coordinate the allocation of resources in protecting the community, critical infrastructure and general welfare of citizens and visitors.

"Residents should continue to pay close attention to local news media for updates on the situation. Additional flooding, tornado warnings or other urgent updates can happen as Tropical Storm Isaac moves toward the southwest coast of Florida," officials said.
If you have questions, you can contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000, or visit www.scgov.net and click on the "All Hazards" link.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 37101
1624. CJ5
Quoting sdswwwe:
Is that an eye-like feature on Isaac?


No, it is not.
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Rough Google Earth estimate based on the 2 VDM:

300 degrees at 12 mph.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I haven't been able to watch the news, I'm actually in a hospital waiting room on my iPad lol, but I'd assume that the news stations aren't reacting to the model runs. However, once the cone gets shifted in accordance to the runs, I could really see the outlets hyping the situation...like they always do. The possibility of a hurricane making landfall over the northern Keys as well as Dade county is high.


Everything Ok?
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so is the cone shifting east at 5? Sorry been gone all day.
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1620. sdswwwe
Is that an eye-like feature on Isaac?
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1619. Levi32
Holy cow! GOES-14 brought out of storage and running 1-min data until October, currently focused on Isaac!

1-min super rapid scan visible loop
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1618. Grothar
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


What an outlier you are man. Spreading truth like you own it.



I can't help myself.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25491
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


not really....

There is a lot more American money in the Caymans....

; )

Perfect!
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Quoting BoroDad17:
Well comparing 2pm NHC advisory to latest dropsonde, Isaac has moved .1N and .3W, back to a WNW movement.
That's what they do,wobble in a general direction.
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1615. bwi
.
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Quoting Thing342:
They skip 55mph.


there can't be 55 mph
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Miami what is your thinking of the models taking this to southern FL while the NHC is much further south than the guidance? What is the feeling there in MIA? Is the media properly informing people are are they being conservative as the mets in Orlando are?

I haven't been able to watch the news, I'm actually in a hospital waiting room on my iPad lol, but I'd assume that the news stations aren't reacting to the model runs. However, once the cone gets shifted in accordance to the runs, I could really see the outlets hyping the situation...like they always do. The possibility of a hurricane making landfall over the northern Keys as well as Dade county is high.
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None of these models go any further west then the FL/AL border. Not sure why the cone is that far west now...

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Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 24th day of the month at 20:03Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 300)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2012
Storm Name: Isaac (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 12
Observation Number: 06
A. Time of Center Fix: 24th day of the month at 19:54:50Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 16°54'N 71°42'W (16.9N 71.7W) (View map)
B. Center Fix Location: 121 miles (195 km) to the SSE (160°) from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,378m (4,521ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 31kts (~ 35.7mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 27 nautical miles (31 statute miles) to the SE (139°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 237° at 34kts (From the WSW at ~ 39.1mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 34 nautical miles (39 statute miles) to the SE (140°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 994mb (29.35 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,525m (5,003ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 18°C (64°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,524m (5,000ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 18°C (64°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Levels (sfc and flt lvl centers are within 5nm of each other): Surface and 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 2 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 70kts (~ 80.6mph) in the east quadrant at 18:21:30Z
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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.