Isaac pounding Haiti and the Dominican Republic with torrential rains

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac is pounding Haiti and the Dominican Republic with torrential rains that are causing extremely dangerous flooding and landslides. Isaac's center passed over Haiti's southwest peninsula early this morning, tracking about 50 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince. As the center pulled away to the northwest, Isaac's heaviest thunderstorms moved ashore over Hispaniola near sunrise, and are now dumping heavy rains with rainfall rates approaching one inch per hour, according to recent microwave satellite estimates. Barahona on the south coast of the Dominican Republic had received 5.14" of rain as of 8 am EDT this morning, and it is probable that some mountainous areas in Haiti and the Dominican Republic have already received up to 10" of rain from Isaac. These rains will continue though much of the day, and have the potential to cause high loss of life in Hispaniola.


Figure 1. A river north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti in flood due to rains from Isaac. Image from Amélie Baron via Twitter.

Latest observations
Isaac built a partial eyewall last night as the storm approached Haiti, but passage over the rough mountains of Haiti has destroyed the inner core, and the surface center of the storm is now fully exposed to view on satellite images. Radar out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba shows no sign of an organized center, but does reveal some very intense thunderstorms affecting Eastern Cuba, Western Haiti, and nearby islands. Latest data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunters confirm that Isaac has weakened; during their penetration to obtain their 7:08 am EDT center fix, the aircraft reported top surface winds of 55 mph with their SFMR instrument, top flight-level winds at 5,000 feet of 68 mph, and a pressure rise of 3 mb, to 998 mb. Infrared and visible satellite loops show that Isaac remains a large and well-organized storm, though it lacks an inner core. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows that upper-level outflow is still good to the north, but is lacking elsewhere. An impressive large multi-day satellite animation of Isaac is available from the Navy Research Lab.


Figure 2. Rainfall rates estimated by the NOAA F-17 polar orbiting satellite at 6:21 am EDT August 25, 2012. Rainfall rates of 1 inch per hour (orange colors) were occurring in a large area to the south of Hispaniola, and these heavy rains have now moved onshore. Image credit: Navy Research Laboratory.

Latest model runs for Isaac
The latest set of 0Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs are similar in spread to the previous set of runs. Our two best models, the GFS and ECMWF, are virtually on top of each other, with a landfall location in the Florida Panhandle between Fort Walton Beach and Panama City. It is likely that the trough of low pressure pulling Isaac to the north will not be strong enough to pull Isaac all the way to the northeast and out to sea, and Isaac has the potential to drop torrential rains capable of causing serious flooding over the Southeast U.S. The latest 8-day precipitation forecast from the GFS model (Figure 3) calls for 10 - 15 inches of rain over portions of Georgia and South Carolina from Isaac. The ECMWF model, however, predicts that a ridge of high pressure will build in and force Isaac to the west after landfall, resulting in a slow motion across the Tennessee Valley into Arkansas by Friday. Arkansas is experiencing its worst drought in over 50 years, so the rains would be welcome there.


Figure 3. Predicted precipitation for the 8-day period from 2 am Saturday August 25 to 2 am Sunday September 2, from the 2 am EDT August 25 run of the GFS model. This model is predicting a wide swath of 5 - 10 inches of rain (orange colors) will affect portions of Cuba, Florida, the Bahamas, and the Southeast U.S. Image credit: NOAA/NCEP.

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Isaac survived passage over Hispaniola relatively intact. It's large size aided this, and this will also help it survive passage over Cuba today and Sunday. By the time Isaac pops off the coast of Cuba into the Florida Straits on Sunday, it will likely be a 50 mph tropical storm with a large, intact circulation. Isaac will be over very warm waters of 31°C (88°F) in the Florida Straits, wind shear will be light to moderate, and the upper-level wind pattern will feature an upper-level anticyclone over the storm, aiding its upper-level outflow. As I discussed in my previous post, Crossing Hispaniola and Cuba: a history, there have been five storms since 1900 with an intensity similar to Isaac, which crossed over both Haiti and Cuba, then emerged into the Florida Straits. These five storms strengthened by 5 - 20 mph in their first 24 hours after coming off the coast of Cuba. Given the relatively intact structure of Isaac so far, and the favorable conditions for intensification, I expect Isaac will intensify by 15 - 20 mph in 24 hours once the center moves off of the north coast of Cuba. If Isaac spends a full two days over water after passing the Florida Keys, it is possible that it will have enough time to develop a full eyewall and undergo rapid intensification into a Category 2 or 3 hurricane. The latest 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the GFDL model is calling for Isaac to intensify to Category 2 strength, then weaken to Category 1 at landfall in Mississippi on Tuesday. The 06Z HWRF run is calling for landfall in the Florida Panhandle near Fort Walton Beach as a borderline Category 2 or 3 hurricane. The 5 am EDT NHC wind probability forecast gave Isaac a 19% chance of becoming a Category 2 or stronger hurricane in the Gulf. I expect these odds are too low, and that Isaac has a 40% chance of becoming a Category 2 or stronger hurricane in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. I doubt the storm has much of a chance of hitting Category 4 or 5 status, though. While the surface waters in the Gulf of Mexico are very warm, near 30 - 31°C, the total heat content of these waters is unusually low for this time of year. We got lucky with the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current this summer, as it did not shed a big warm eddy during the height of hurricane season, like happened in 2005 (I discuss this in my Gulf of Mexico Loop Current Tutorial.) Without the type of super-high heat energy we had in 2005 in the Gulf of Mexico, Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in 2012 will have difficulty forming.

Invest 97L off the coast of Africa
A tropical wave (Invest 97L) is located about 350 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. The storm has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorms, and is under moderate wind shear. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 97L a 30% chance of developing by Monday morning. The 8 am EDT SHIPS model forecast predicts moderate shear for the next 5 days over 97L, so some development is possible if 97L can fend off the dry air to its north. None of the reliable models foresee that 97L will be a threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands. However, both the GFS and ECMWF models predict that a tropical wave that has not yet emerged from the coast of Africa may develop next week, and potentially take a more westward track towards the Lesser Antilles.

The Weather Channel's hurricane expert, Brian Norcross, is now writing a blog on wunderground.com. For those of you unfamiliar with his background, here's an excerpt from his first post, from last night:

"This evening 20 years ago the sun set on the horrendous first day after Hurricane Andrew. I was in downtown Miami at the studios of the NBC station. We knew that there was "total" destruction in South Dade County, but even that didn't describe it. Here's to the people that went through it... and held their families together in a situation that most people can't imagine."

Angela Fritz will have a new post here by 6 pm EDT. For the next few days, I plan to do the morning blog post, and Angela will be doing the late afternoon post.

Jeff Masters

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Hey guys. I'm back.

I'll probably come to this site almost everyday to see what's new.

I see that Isaac is currently affecting the northern Caribbean Islands, and is expected to become a hurricane and threaten the southeastern United States.

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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
I thought I would tune into TWC and see what the other "experts" had to say about Isaac.... They had a freekin' ad about one of their upcoming shows.."Iron Men" about steel workers on skyscrapers... What the freekin" heck does that have to do with weather....GeeeZ


relax, they have been covering the storm all day and been doing a pretty decent job at that, just so happens you tuned it a time they were not doing live coverage
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1869. angiest
From the Houston forecast discussion at 4:30 this morning.

TOMORROW MEAN SFC-700MB RIDGING MOVES NORTH TAPERING OFF THE
MOISTURE TAP. GFS SPLITS A PIECE OF THE UPPER TROUGH NOW OVER THE
TX PANHANDLE TO OUR WEST TOMORROW SO CANNOT RULE OUT PCPN CHANCES
BUT THEY ARE LOWER THAN TODAY. BY MONDAY ISAAC IS FORECAST BY NHC
TO BE IN THE FAR EASTERN GULF. THIS PUTS SE TX IN A GENERALLY DEEP
OFFSHORE FLOW REGIME. INTERESTING FLIES IN THE OINTMENT FOR
TUESDAY IS A WESTERLY MOVING 250MB LOW THAT BREAKS OFF THE TROUGH
NOW IN THE SOUTHEASTERN US AND SOME RELATIVELY HIGH PWAT AIR ALONG
AND AHEAD OF A FRONTAL ZONE TO OUR NORTH. ECM/GFS MOS POPS ARE
QUITE HIGH ON TUESDAY (40 TO NEAR 50 PERCENT) BUT GIVEN THE USUAL
PATTERN OFF TO THE NORTHWEST OF TROPICAL SYSTEMS IN THE GULF THIS
PCPN CHANCE SEEMS HIGH SO WILL COMPROMISE BY LEAVING OUR 20
PERCENT FORECAST IN PLACE.
WILL NEED TO CONTINUE TO MONITOR THIS
AS TUESDAY COULD BE BRIEFLY WETTER. WED THOUGH THE NEXT WEEKEND
LOOK VERY DRY AND TEMPERATURES WILL BE WARMING. GFS ENSEMBLE MEAN
MOS IS HIGHER THAN GFS LONG RANGE MOS (MEX) AND THE EXPERIMENTAL
ECM MOS IS EVEN HIGHER. AS A RESULT MAX TEMPS ON THU-FRI WERE
INCREASED.


It seems like there is something interesting in the bolded part, but I'm not sure what to make of it.
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Quoting cajuncoon:
I cant understand why anyone would want a hurricane to come to them, its seems like most of the people on this blog are wishcasting, picking models because its closer to them, I lost everything when Katrina destroyed southern Plaquemines Parish, you all may love the weather as I do, but these storms are nothing to play with. God Bless


I am guessing most people posting have not been through a situation like yours, some probably haven't ever been through any sort of tropical system and dealt with the annoyances of power outages, house damage, roads blocked, etc (still nothing compared to what you dealt with in Katrina). Just one of those things that takes a personal experience to understand the power and severity of these storms
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Woohoo! recon turned around. Maybe they are going for the center now!
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1866. Matt74
Quoting angiest:


One all the way out on Bolivar.
Your probably gonna get minused for that! lol
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NHC's take. Winds and pressure only have changed. Coordinates are the same as 2pm.

AL, 09, 2012082518, , BEST, 0, 208N, 753W, 45, 1000, TS

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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
102 hrs. makes landfall:

Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
Quoting wpb:
who are they


Max Mayfield the former national hurricane center director mentioned this. Thats who they are. It's not your little channel 5 wpb rinky dink weather.......
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I thought I would tune into TWC and see what the other "experts" had to say about Isaac.... They had a freekin' ad about one of their upcoming shows.."Iron Men" about steel workers on skyscrapers... What the freekin" heck does that have to do with weather....GeeeZ
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1860. Drakoen
Current position matches up best with the 12z EURO 6hr position out of all the 12z models which had Issac going over Banes, Cuba.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hurricane_Georges _on_September_25th.gif#file
Hurricane Georges in 1998!
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


whatever, we choose to disagree

I think the track will be closer to the current Euro or even a bit further east due to Isaac being stronger than forecasted....you feel different and that is fine

The GFS could very well pan out, but I just don't see it


I never said we disagree I have not made an official forecast for this storm...anything from SE LA to the panhandle would be okay with me...but if a model (a main top model) at that and its ensembles are showing a different scenario I think it should be accounted for...
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The NHC website said at 2pm that Isaac was near the north coast of eastern Cuba. Don't most of the models have it emerging near the north coast of central Cuba? This could mean a shift in track of at least 50 miles east. Also, if Isaac is going to go as far west as most of the models are saying, he better start heading nearly due west soon. Right now he is still moving NW according the the NHC.
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1856. LargoFl
SPECIAL MARINE WARNING
AMZ555-252000-
/O.NEW.KMLB.MA.W.0113.120825T1838Z-120825T2000Z/

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SPECIAL MARINE WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
238 PM EDT SAT AUG 25 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MELBOURNE HAS ISSUED A

* SPECIAL MARINE WARNING FOR THE COASTAL WATERS...

FROM SAINT LUCIE INLET TO JUPITER INLET OUT TO 20 NM.

* UNTIL 400 PM EDT

* AT 235 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
THUNDERSTORM...PRODUCING STRONG WINDS OVER 34 KNOTS 10 MILES
SOUTHEAST OF SEWALL`S POINT...OR ABOUT 8 MILES NORTH OF TEQUESTA...
MOVING WEST AT 20 KNOTS.

*THE THUNDERSTORM WILL CROSS THE INTRACOASTAL WATERS OF MARTIN
COUNTY NEAR HOBE SOUND. ADDITIONAL STRONG STORMS OVER THE ATLANTIC
WILL APPROACH THE MARTIN COUNTY COAST THROUGH 4 PM.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THESE THUNDERSTORMS WILL LIKELY PRODUCE WINDS OVER 34 KNOTS AND
LOCALLY ROUGH SEAS. SMALL CRAFT...ESPECIALLY THOSE UNDER SAIL...
SHOULD MOVE TO A SAFE HARBOR IF POSSIBLE. MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR CREW
ARE WEARING APPROVED FLOTATION DEVICES DURING THESE HAZARDOUS
CONDITIONS.

&&

LAT...LON 2715 8017 2717 8020 2720 8022 2719 8025
2715 8026 2719 8027 2719 8030 2722 8029
2726 8033 2721 8026 2722 8022 2727 8024
2723 7982 2697 7973 2697 8009
TIME...MOT...LOC 1836Z 081DEG 19KT 2708 8010

$$


KELLY
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36881
Quoting TomballTXPride:
Wow. The CMC was the one shooting this thing up the East Coast days ago. And now pointing towards NOLA. Oh geez I'm getting a headache.


Well, almost, it comes in just west of Mobile Bay.

It's also forecasting 7.5 inches of rain per 12 hours about that time, so if it verified, Mobile would get about 24 to 30 inches of rain from the entire event.

when it's off-shore it's a LOT bigger than you first think on that run. Look at the landmarks and compare vorticity and rainfall circles.

It's in the Katrina and Ike class in terms of size and a solid rain shield structure, but not intensity, so we're talking hours and hours of wave setup before the final approach, and a day and a half or two of heavy rainfall.
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1854. flcanes
Quoting floridaboy14:
look at the convection near the center.. its begininng 0____0

oh no
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1247
1853. wpb
Quoting leelee75k:


Channel 10 in South Florida has Max Mayfield the former NHC director as their hurricane expert as well a pretty good team of mets. I like them!
max is vgood the others are bozos
Member Since: May 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 572
I cant understand why anyone would want a hurricane to come to them, its seems like most of the people on this blog are wishcasting, picking models because its closer to them, I lost everything when Katrina destroyed southern Plaquemines Parish, you all may love the weather as I do, but these storms are nothing to play with. God Bless
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1851. Michfan
Quoting Levi32:


Mm...more times than you might think. We meteorologists are quite good at covering our tracks, much like politicians lol

GOES-14 super rapid scan (1-minute intervals) refreshes faster than the radar.


Bingo. Exactly what i was looking for. Thanks.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Experimental FIM-8 66 hrs. shows a wide swath of TS force winds effecting the West Coast of FL.



This model also looks like it is much further west...sorry if that makes anyone angry just stating a fact :)
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Quoting masonsnana:
He was here I think it was thursday but didn't post any of his maps, just popped in to say hi


Thanks, Would love to see some of those, hopefully he will pop in.
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Quoting barotropic:


What?

21.3N 75.7 appx.

yup that's pretty much it.
looks like Isaac is heading into the Florida straits.
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1846. flcanes
Quoting weatherbro:
It appears the COC is 21.0 degrees North 74.9 degrees Wast!

your reading is way too far south-east
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1247
look at the convection near the center.. its begininng 0____0
Member Since: July 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1102
1844. Levi32
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Experimental FIM-8 66 hrs. shows a wide swath of TS force winds effecting the West Coast of FL.



Winds at 850mb are 10-20% higher than at the surface. Use the 10m wind product:

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1843. MahFL
Quoting TallyMike:


Why would you need so much time to know you do not have school the next day.


To arrange child care, if you have to, it can be quite costly.
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Quoting Maineweatherguy20023:

Clearly not over there land
Why nOT ? Our local carrier flies over Cuba every day.
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Quoting katadman:


One of my childhood heroes. I remember catching a bus to downtown Houston for the ticker-tape parade.
I read that............That's too bad
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Quoting wpb:
who are they


Channel 10 in South Florida has Max Mayfield the former NHC director as their hurricane expert as well a pretty good team of mets. I like them!
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We are still 96 hrs out or so.....from say Apalachiacola, FL to MS/LA coast is really not much of a spread at all, 200 miles or less, straight-line.
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1838. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36881
1837. MahFL
RIP Neil Armstrong.
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Quoting louisianaboy444:


Well I don't have my track nailed down to a certain city like you do....I'm showing every model and its ensembles and all the scenarios that could happen...You are the one out of line for attacking me for no reason


whatever, we choose to disagree

I think the track will be closer to the current Euro or even a bit further east due to Isaac being stronger than forecasted....you feel different and that is fine

The GFS could very well pan out, but I just don't see it
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Quoting dmh1026:
That is very late in the game!!!


Why would you need so much time to know you do not have school the next day.
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Experimental FIM-8 66 hrs. shows a wide swath of TS force winds effecting the West Coast of FL.

Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
1833. wpb
Quoting tennisgirl08:


Analog storm for Isaac? Hurricane Georges. Bryan Norcross just mentioned this analog on TWC.
100 miles to the north and BIG trouble
Member Since: May 28, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 572
1832. flcanes
Quoting TideWaterWeather:
The center is showing itself here:

Link

This corresponds well with the 999.1 mb reading

The center is just off shore from Bahia Rio Seco

weaker than i thought
yay
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1247
It appears the COC is 21.0 degrees North 74.9 degrees Wast!
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Miami NWS Disco

TROPICAL STORM ISAAC FORECAST TO MOVE INTO THE FLORIDA STRAITS
ON SUNDAY AND INTO THE SOUTHEAST GULF OF MEXICO SUNDAY NIGHT...

.DISCUSSION...STRONG EASTERLY FLOW DEVELOPED WELL IN ADVANCE OF
T.S. ISAAC ACROSS S FL THIS MORNING ASSOCIATED WITH A MID LEVEL
TROUGH THAT WILL CONTINUE TO SHIFT INTO THE GOFMEX TAPERING OFF
THE DEEP CONVECTION. STILL, SCT CONVECTION WILL BE POSSIBLE
THROUGH THIS EVENING WITH SOME ISOLATED ROTATION ESPECIALLY AS
ISAAC APPROACHES. THE MAIN OUTER BANDS FROM ISAAC WILL BEGIN TO
MOVE TOWARDS S FL LATE TONIGHT PARTICULARLY IF THE STORM GOES
UNDER INTENSIFICATION AS FORECAST BY NHC. SO DETERIORATING
CONDITIONS WILL CONTINUE THROUGH SUNDAY AND INTO MONDAY AS THE
CENTER OF ISAAC PASSES TO OUR SOUTHWEST AND OVER THE GULF COASTAL
WATERS. THIS WILL PLACE ALL OF S FL IN THE NORTHEAST QUADRANT
WHICH IS TYPICALLY THE LOCATION MOST FAVORABLE FOR TORNADIC
ACTIVITY ALONG WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF VERY HEAVY RAINFALL. IN
ADDITION, WELL DEFINED UPPER LEVEL DIVERGENCE AND LOWER LEVEL
CONVERGENCE WILL DEVELOP ACROSS S FL AHEAD OF ISAAC ON SUNDAY. A
LOW LEVEL JET WILL ALSO DEVELOP ALONG WITH 850-700 MB THETA-E
ADVECTION. THIS WILL HELP INDUCE ASCENT AHEAD OF THE MAIN
CIRCULATION BEGINNING LATE TONIGHT INTO EARLY SUNDAY MORNING.
THEREFORE, RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 5 TO 8 INCHES REMAIN LIKELY WITH
ISOLATED HEAVIER AMOUNTS ALSO POSSIBLE FROM EARLY SUNDAY THROUGH
LATE MONDAY. ALL MODEL GUIDANCE THEN AGREES THAT ISAAC WILL TURN
MORE TO THE NORTH ON TUESDAY AS IT MOVES THROUGH THE MID LEVEL
RIDGE WEAKNESS. THIS WILL RESULT IN S FL IN A DEEP TROPICAL
SOUTHERLY FLOW WITH PLENTY OF MOISTURE AND HEAT INTO THE MIDDLE OF
THE WEEK. SO ALTHOUGH THE BANDING WILL CEASE, INCREASED SUN WILL
LEAD TO SCT TO POSSIBLE NUMEROUS AFTERNOON CONVECTION TUESDAY AND
WEDNESDAY. BY LATE THIS WEEK, A MID LEVEL RIDGE WILL BUILD BACK TO
THE WEST FROM THE ATLANTIC AS THE REMNANTS OF ISAAC MOVE THROUGH THE
SOUTHEAST STATES.
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Quoting GetReal:
The center is clearly visible on this site loop...

Link


Lord he's huge!
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No new fire ups of convection in the FL mess.
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Quoting naplesdoppler:
Long time lurker here, where is Orca with his tracks and maps??
He was here I think it was thursday but didn't post any of his maps, just popped in to say hi
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1826. robj144
Quoting wpb:
who are they


I think they're channel 10 in Miami. :)
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1825. angiest
Forecasting nightmare anyone?

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Quoting NEPASteve:
Does anyone else see an eye?


What?
Quoting Chicklit:
Short Wave Loop

To the eye it appears the coc is scooting along just north of the eastern Cuba coast.


21.3N 75.7 appx.
Member Since: August 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 652
Quoting Hurricanes101:


lmao, um no, they 00Z models DID shift east last night and someone jumped on before they were out and said the track would be shifted west due to the fact that the 00Z models shifted west, when in fact they had not come out

you apparently did not read the blog very well last night

Also about the GFS, um if someone feels a system is going to go to a certain place, of course they are going to disagree with a run that does something totally different, its called sticking with your forecasted thinking


Well I don't have my track nailed down to a certain city like you do....I'm showing every model and its ensembles and all the scenarios that could happen...You are the one out of line for attacking me for no reason
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1822. Grothar
I wonder how much all of the will consolidate. I wish I knew more about these things.


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
1821. flcanes
Quoting LargoFl:

looks like a cat3 pushing a devastating surge into tampa, which will only pile up, causing the equivalent of a cat5 surge
were talking 20-30 feet of water
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1247

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.