Isaac lashing the Keys; an eyewall is building

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac is steadily organizing as it lashes the Florida Keys with heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds. Sustained winds of 44 mph and 41 mph have been observed at Molasses Reef and Sombrero Key, respectively, this morning. Radar out of Key West shows an increase in spiral banding, and the beginnings of an eyewall. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft completed its first pass through the center of Isaac near 11:30 am EDT, and did not find the pressure had fallen, or that the peak winds had increased. Infrared and visible satellite loops show that Isaac is a large and increasingly well-organized storm. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows that upper-level outflow is quite good and increasing to the north, but is lacking elsewhere. Moderate wind shear and dry air to the south are interfering with heavy thunderstorm development on Isaac's south side. Heavy rains from Isaac are lingering over Haiti and the Dominican Republic; flash floods in Haiti from Isaac's torrential rains killed at least four people.


Figure 1. Morning reflectivity image from the Radar out of Key West radar shows the northwest section of an eyewall beginning to form to the southeast of the city.

Latest model runs for Isaac
The latest set of 0Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs have diverged significantly, and we can no longer be confident we know where Isaac will make landfall on the Gulf Coast. One camp of models, the UKMET and ECMWF, predict that a trough of low pressure moving across the Southeast U.S. will be strong enough to turn Isaac north to a landfall in the Florida Panhandle. The other set of models, the GFDL, GFS, and HWRF, predict the trough will bypass Isaac, and a ridge of high pressure will build in and force Isaac to a landfall over Louisiana. The official NHC forecast averages out these two extremes, calling for a landfall midway between the two solutions. Odds are, one of the two model solutions will turn out to be the correct one, and the NHC will be forced to make a substantial adjustment in their forecast track to the east or the west. Isaac has the potential to drop torrential rains capable of causing serious flooding and drought relief over the South. The latest 8-day precipitation forecast from the GFS model calls for 10 - 20 inches of rain over Southeast Louisiana, where it predicts Isaac will make landfall. The ECMWF model, however, these heavy rains will fall more over the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Georgia.


Figure 2. A hurricane forecaster's dilemma: which set of models is correct? The latest set of 0Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs have diverged significantly. Our two top models--the GFS and ECMWF--have 72-hour forecasts that are about 350 miles apart. The ECMWF forecast is not shown here, but lies just to the west of the UKMET forecast (white line.)

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Isaac survived passage over Hispaniola and Cuba relatively intact. It's large size aided this. Isaac is over very warm waters of 31°C (88°F) with high total heat content in the Florida Straits, but is encountering moderate wind shear of 10 - 15 knots due to upper-level winds out of the southwest. This shear is predicted to relax to the light range tonight as an upper-level anticyclone becomes established over the storm. This should allow for more substantial intensification after Isaac passes the Florida Keys. However, the total heat content of the ocean decreases for Isaac Monday morning as it encounters a relatively cool ocean eddy in the Southeast Gulf of Mexico. If Isaac takes a more westerly track, passing due south of the Central Louisiana coast, the storm will encounter a modest warm eddy, which would aid intensification. The intensify forecasts from the various models are very divergent. The latest 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the GFDL model keeps Isaac as a strong tropical storm until landfall in Louisiana. Isaac will undergo rapid intensification into a Category 3 hurricane as it hits New Orleans, says the latest 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the HWRF model. The ECMWF model has Isaac as a strong Category 2 storm with a central pressure near 950 mb as it hits near the Alabama/Florida border.

Comparing Isaac with Ike of 2008
The current situation with Isaac is similar in some ways to that of Hurricane Ike of 2008. Ike spent considerable time over Cuba, weakening from a Category 4 to a Category 1 storm. The storm couldn't put its energy into building a strong inner core, but it was able to build up its outer rainbands that were over very warm waters. This resulted in a major expansion of its wind field, with tropical storm-force winds extending out 275 miles from the center at one point. Ike was able to intensify into a Category 2 storm on its path towards Texas, and had an unusually low pressure for a Cat 2 storm with 100 mph winds--944 mb. That's a central pressure more typical of a Category 3 storm, but Ike could only manage Category 2 winds, since it had such a large chunk of the atmosphere to keep spinning. With Isaac's TS winds already extending out to 205 miles, maybe we'll see another Ike-type situation as it intensifies--the storm will have an unusually low pressure in order to keep a huge wind field spinning, but never make it above Category 2, since it will take so long to spin up such a large wind field.

Storm surge forecast for Isaac
Isaac is a very large storm, with tropical storm-force winds that extend out 205 miles from the center. For comparison, Hurricane Katrina at landfall had tropical storm-force winds that extended out 230 miles from its center. Isaac's large size will enable it to set a large area of the ocean into motion, which will generate a large storm surge once the storm approaches land on the Gulf Coast. The latest 3:30 am EDT Integrated Kinetic Energy analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Isaac's winds near 0 on a scale of 1 to 6, but the destructive potential of Isaacs's storm surge was 2.1 on a scale of 1 to 6. A 2008 paper by Irish et al., The influence of storm size on hurricane surge, found that large storms like Isaac are capable to delivering a 30% larger storm surge to the coast than a smaller storm with the same maximum wind speeds. The angle with which the storm hit the coast is important, too--a storm moving due north or slightly east of north will deliver a storm surge about 10% greater than a storm moving NNW or NW. Consult our Storm Surge pages for detailed information on what the risk is for the coast. I expect that Isaac's storm surge will be about 30% higher than the typical surge one would expect based on the maximum wind speeds.

Invest 97L off the coast of Africa
A tropical wave (Invest 97L) is located about 650 miles west 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 50% chance of developing by Tuesday morning. 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 late this week, and potentially take a more westward track towards the Lesser Antilles, arriving around September 2.

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. I'm in Atlanta to help out The Weather Channel with their on-air hurricane coverage, and will be on either in the afternoon or evening on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Jeff Masters

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1126. victoria780
6:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting WhoDat42:



I'm just south of I-12 off 1088.
Im surprised the Weather Channel has Tropical Updates usually they have re runs of Ice Pilots
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 347
1125. LargoFl
6:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting Masquer08er:
Any comment on Isaac churning up the oil from BP? Dr Masters mentioned this.
if i remember right..this always happens when hurricanes get into that area, they say ALOT of that oil gunk went down on the seabed, remember its thick and hasnt been processed yet
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39645
1124. treehuggingsister
6:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Full disclosure. major dad and I are veterans of major Hurricanes Bertha, Fran, Ivan and Dennis (along with others less significant in damage for us, but worth preparing for). Thanks to Irene visiting brother Bingley last year, I thought I would offer up what's worked for us in terms of preparation, both food-wise, house-wise PLUS some of the things folks don't know about, that make life bearable if those winds of almost-September come early. I hope you'll find something that you didn't know before. First up is the heavy lifting.

For Bertha and Fran in NC (Cat 2 and 3, 56 days apart in ’96), we only lived 10 miles inland, were on the eastern side of the storm both times (translation: got beat all to hell), never boarded up and did just fine. The most important thing we did, and have always done, is CLEAR THE AREA OF POTENTIAL FLYING OBJECTS. Anything and everything in our yard AND the neighborhood that could be turned into a missile (including that 100lb garden pot you don’t think can fly…it can), goes into the garage. Bertha came in during the daytime and, along around noon, we got to watch the neighbor’s metal shed explode and fly through our backyard at about 110 mph. That was the only thing we couldn’t control that day that went walkabout, and it would have killed someone if the wind hadn’t been parallel to the house.

************************************************* ************************************************** *******

*What to Do Inside*

Get ALL Your Laundry Done

You can run out of underwear FAST and blow through some serious t-shirts clearing flotsom. Plus, the second the last load is out of the washer, fill it up on it’s largest setting with cold water and STOP it. Voilà. Another source of water for rinse/washing. (The washing machine also makes an EXCELLENT ice cooler if you are space challenged, trust me. Fill it with THAT instead.)

Bathrooms

Scrub EVERY tub SPARKLING With a bleach based cleaner. We use a piece of saran wrap over the stopper, then plug it to make absolutely sure there’s NO leakage, then FILL THAT SUCKER UP. This becomes both relatively clean water to dip out for a sink sponge bath AND the ALL IMPORTANT FLUSH THE TOILET water. (And is ONLY used for…well, not tinkling.) Speaking of which, it doesn’t hurt to have a “Tidy Bowl” beforehand, if there’s a chance the power might be out for DAYS, if you get my drift…
Now, you may get lucky and have a trickle of water like we did after Fran, but the water company may beg you not to use it, because they’re trying to find leaks, or it’s not potable or whatever. (Another reason to HAVE A REAL RADIO: PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE)


Creature Comforts

While you’re busy as a bee, I always, ALWAYS recommend setting the thermostat on your A/C (while you have it) as LOW AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY STAND IT.

As in MEATLOCKER. Wearing SWEATS IN AUGUST cold. “But, ths, why?” you ask.

Because the second that power goes out and ALL those anxious people are still in your house in August breathing?

That temp is going to climb and F.A.S.T. And it will suck so bad.

And you will still have HOURS of storm to go, and schmaybe days without power. You’ll thank me....


Much more from our blog (originally written to help w/ Irene): a Soup to Nuts How-To's for Shopping, PLYWOOD BOARDING (WITH PICTURES), Making the Inside and Outside of Your Home SAFE AND Comfortable at my WunderBlog.
Member Since: August 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 188
1123. Hhunter
6:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Basically Dr. M said that Isaac, may plow the sea floor and pull up the BP oil that has settled. Further, he suggested storm surge will be a big big problem with this storm. based on size and strength likely will have.
Member Since: August 19, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2973
1122. TxIkeJoe
6:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
On buoy reports...2pm
Key West 29.48
Marathon 29.57
Member Since: August 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 17
1121. Sfloridacat5
6:48 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting leftlink:
It looks like the new circulation center is sneaking past key west, well to the south. See my fix below. If true this means Key West will now see winds shifting to the Southeast.

In Marathon, the wind shift occurred at 1pm.

Someone please verify that Key West had a wind shift!



The center is very large and broad at this time. You're center location is only a small part of the overall center extending to the north of that location.
Dr. Masters just described the large center of the storm on TWC.
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7535
1120. LeeInNaplesFl
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
It makes me very happy to see Dr. Masters on TWC. For years I've come here for his Blogs and the excellent commentary of so many of the pasters here.

Keeper, Reed, Levi, StormPetrol, CCH (the real one)keep on rocking. Love ya Taz.


Where's floodman???
Member Since: August 8, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
1119. yoboi
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting Cajuncowboys:
Here we go again, looks like another Rita the forgotten Hurricane!!! I went through her and was a very damaging storm here in Lake Charles La.


yep are ya ready????
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2369
1118. washingtonian115
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
I think the NHC should keep the intensity the way it is even though the models continue to show a major on the gulf until Isaac becomes a hurricane.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17150
1117. Stormbugn
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
http://www.forbes.com/sites/weatherbell/2012/08/26/ tropical-storm-isaac-should-rival-hurricane-katrin a/

Interesting reading here...just thought I would pass it along. If y'all don't agree with it...please don't yell at me! ;)
Member Since: May 15, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
1116. JasonRE
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting LSUCaneGirl:


Yep! Awaiting the next advisory..


Thanks LSUcaneGirl.....appreciate the information.
Member Since: August 6, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 122
1115. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
1113. snotly
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Doc on TV, pretty much nailed it. Awesome.
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 686
1112. kctinney
6:47 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting mcampb2811:
Heavy rain in downtown Orlando now.


How are the winds there? My parents are in Orlando area (Windermere)(--just moved there in June and have NEVER been around a hurricane before and just curious since I haven't heard back from them.
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 44
1111. jonelu
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting hang10z:
So far so good in Fort Lauderdale, some heavy rain coming through in squall lines, but nothing horrible or more than a normal thunderstorm down here. 17-20mph sustained winds with some stronger gusts. No loss of power or internet.

We shall see if things pick up this afternoon.
Im north of you in W Palm Beach and its pretty unimpressive. This lull actually makes it feel like its ended...
Member Since: October 31, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 884
1110. tennisgirl08
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting MississippiWx:


Possibly. Having a strong storm doesn't seem to be effecting the other models though.


I'm not agreeing with the Euro intensity at landfall. More like Cat 2 (90-100mph)
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
1109. Masquer08er
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Any comment on Isaac churning up the oil from BP? Dr Masters mentioned this.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 397
1108. JasonRE
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting bigwes6844:
just talking about the latest gfs and how the eye is begining to wrap around the coc. not much though


Thank you. Appreciate the update.
Member Since: August 6, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 122
1107. yoboi
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting presslord:
Jeff Masters coming up on TWC



did the models shift west at 2???
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2369
1106. MississippiWx
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Isaac has built himself a CDO this afternoon. First step taken towards becoming a hurricane.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
1105. LSUCaneGirl
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting JasonRE:
Just missed Dr. Masters on TWC. What did he have to say? Still keeping an eye on Isaac here in Lafayette LA. Anyone else here in LA?


Yep! Awaiting the next advisory..
Member Since: August 14, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 51
1104. Hurricanes101
6:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting leftlink:
It looks like the new circulation center is sneaking past key west, well to the south. See my fix below. If true this means Key West will now see winds shifting to the Southeast.

In Marathon, the wind shift occurred at 1pm.

Someone please verify that Key West had a wind shift!



the center is further northeast of where you have it
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7829
1102. Civicane49
6:45 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
1101. ITCZ
6:45 PM GMT on August 26, 2012
Quoting Neapolitan:
In the past five minutes

wxhatt: Dr. Jeff on the Weather Channel Now! Go Dr. Jeff!!!
KeyWestwx: ha Masters is on TWC now
HurricaneHunterJoe: Dr Masters on TWC now
maeko: Watching Dr. Masters on TWC!!
ClevelandBob: Good to see Dr. M on TWC
ITCZ: Dr Masters is on! Dr Masters is on :-)
Felix2007: Dr. Masters on TWC!
Ameister12: Dr. Masters is live on TWC!
tropicalmommie: Jeff Masters on TWC now
TropicalAnalystwx13: Dr. Masters is on The Weather Channel.
MAweatherboy1: Doc's on now!

Anyone know if Dr. Masters will be on TWC this afternoon? ;-)


(sheepish grin,toe in dirt) well, you know, it's DR. MASTERS, for petie's sake.

Stay tuned! ~:)
Member Since: September 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 47
It looks like the new circulation center is sneaking past key west, well to the south. See my fix below. If true this means Key West will now see winds shifting to the Southeast.

In Marathon, the wind shift occurred at 1pm.

Someone please verify that Key West had a wind shift!

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I dont understand how we can be saying a certain model has handle Isaac well when he hasnt even made landfall. Its possible all of the models could be wrong and he could hit the Florida panhandle or Texas.
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Quoting JasonRE:
Just missed Dr. Masters on TWC. What did he have to say? Still keeping an eye on Isaac here in Lafayette LA. Anyone else here in LA?


Storm surge for Gulf Coast tonight/tomorrow. Issac may well up oil on Gulf floor.
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Quoting stormchaser19:


GFS is setting the trend all the season


The Euro started the trend well before that
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7829
Here we go again, looks like another Rita the forgotten Hurricane!!! I went through her and was a very damaging storm here in Lake Charles La.
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A hurricane has not made landfall in the US Coast of the GOM in four years. For a major cane its 7 years. In a way its so weird I almost expect Isaac to just sit at 60mph all the way up to the coast. Lol.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


GFS had this over Florida for well over a week, only in the last 24 hours has it shifted west



GFS is setting the trend all the season
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1093. JasonRE
Quoting hurricanehanna:

Hi Jason - Lafayette here too. I miss Doc's appearance.


Hey there...just turned on TWC. Want to watch this site instead of TWC. Better info on here. You worried at all?
Member Since: August 6, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 122
Stormjunkie enroute to the Gulf coast for Portlight can be seen here Link it's pretty boring right now...but he's kinda fragile...and his ego would eat up the attention if y'all wanna check it out....
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Quoting robj144:
I just heard thunder from Isaac. I'm in Palm Beach county, by the way. I can't recall hearing thunder in a tropical system before.


That's strange, because I've experienced thunderstorms several times in tropical systems, although I agree it is rare. The main reason they usually don't have much lightning thunder is it's the lack of super cooled water droplets because warm air stretches so far up into the atmospheric column, and because the updrafts are stretched out and elongated rather than more vertically.

However, the recent tropical storm Debby had powerful thunderstorms with lots of lightning around here. In fact we had one band that had a really large amount of CG lightning, it also spawned a tornado.
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Look like Issac is now beging to work on its sw side and trying to mix out some of the dry air.If we get a complete core to the storm tonight sometime its on then for sure.
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1089. GetReal
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1088. Hhunter
Quoting Neapolitan:
wxhatt: Dr. Jeff on the Weather Channel Now! Go Dr. Jeff!!!
KeyWestwx: ha Masters is on TWC now
HurricaneHunterJoe: Dr Masters on TWC now
maeko: Watching Dr. Masters on TWC!!
ClevelandBob: Good to see Dr. M on TWC
ITCZ: Dr Masters is on! Dr Masters is on :-)
Felix2007: Dr. Masters on TWC!
Ameister12: Dr. Masters is live on TWC!
tropicalmommie: Jeff Masters on TWC now
TropicalAnalystwx13: Dr. Masters is on The Weather Channel.
MAweatherboy1: Doc's on now!

Anyone know if Dr. Masters will be on TWC this afternoon? ;-)


They said he was in for the duration......I expect alot...
Member Since: August 19, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 2973
Quoting weatherh98:


5 blocks in mandeville



Don't think the Lake is up 2 ft. Yet.

Link

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1086. robj144
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


no, tropical systems often have lighting, and intensifying ones often have a lot more.
Beryl had tons of lightning before landfall


Ok... been through about 8 tropical systems, and this is the first time I've heard thunder.

Sidenote: I also heard thunder in the Blizzard of '78, which was also strange. I know Thundersnow happens, but it's rare.
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Winds out of Key West have now switched to 18 kts out of the ENE. Air Temperature 32C down from 35.
Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 946
In the past five minutes

wxhatt: Dr. Jeff on the Weather Channel Now! Go Dr. Jeff!!!
KeyWestwx: ha Masters is on TWC now
HurricaneHunterJoe: Dr Masters on TWC now
maeko: Watching Dr. Masters on TWC!!
ClevelandBob: Good to see Dr. M on TWC
ITCZ: Dr Masters is on! Dr Masters is on :-)
Felix2007: Dr. Masters on TWC!
Ameister12: Dr. Masters is live on TWC!
tropicalmommie: Jeff Masters on TWC now
TropicalAnalystwx13: Dr. Masters is on The Weather Channel.
MAweatherboy1: Doc's on now!

Anyone know if Dr. Masters will be on TWC this afternoon? ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13579
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


no, tropical systems often have lighting, and intensifying ones often have a lot more.
Beryl had tons of lightning before landfall

Convection!
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1082. Grothar
Quoting A4Guy:


Yes...it wsa really dark and gusty...but no worse than any of the others, I don' tthink.

I am in north Ft Lauderdale...just off US1. Where are you?


Coral Ridge.
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isaac looking like a single blob. consolidating. we should get a hurricane tonight
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Quoting JasonRE:
Just missed Dr. Masters on TWC. What did he have to say? Still keeping an eye on Isaac here in Lafayette LA. Anyone else here in LA?
just talking about the latest gfs and how the eye is begining to wrap around the coc. not much though
Member Since: July 25, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2644
Quoting weatherh98:


5 blocks in mandeville



I'm just south of I-12 off 1088.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Isaac's convective structure has improved considerably over the past 6 hours. As it continues to distance itself from the Cuban mainland, equatorward inflow should becoming more vigorously established and lead to some gradual intensification throughout the majority of today and into tomorrow.

Conditions here in southeast Florida have begun to clear; winds are rather calm with the occasional 10-15kt gust. Rain is no longer falling.

If the clouds have cleared up look for a beautiful sunset.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17150
Quoting stormchaser19:


No way.......GFS the best so far


GFS had this over Florida for well over a week, only in the last 24 hours has it shifted west

Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7829
1076. maeko
TWC said Dr. Masters would be on for the 'duration'. Wow! Is this the first time he's done this?
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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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