Little change to Isaac, but storm poses a serious storm surge threat

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:25 PM GMT on August 27, 2012

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Tropical Storm Isaac has changed little in strength or organization this morning, as the storm heads northwest at 14 mph towards the Central Gulf Coast. There are two hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm, and Isaac's central pressure held steady at 989 mb at the 8:30 am and 9:15 am center fixes. Top surface winds remain near 65 mph. Infrared and visible satellite loops show that Isaac is a very large storm, but isn't very symmetric. Heavy thunderstorm activity is lacking on the southeast side, where 10 knots of wind shear is driving dry air into the circulation. The center is surrounded by a ring of echoes now, which was not the case on Sunday. However, the echoes are weak. The 8:30 am center report from the Hurricane Hunters reported about half of a ragged eyewall, but the 9:15 am report did not mention any evidence of an eyewall. Isaac will have to form an eyewall in order to intensify significantly.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Isaac. Note the lack of heavy thunderstorm activity on the storm's southeast side, where dry air and wind shear are combining to interfere with development.

Isaac's rains
Isaac's heaviest rains have fallen along a swath from the east coast of Florida near West Palm Beach to the center of the state, just south of Orlando. West Palm Beach received 7.57" of rain from Isaac as of 10 am EDT this morning. A trained spotter in Western Boynton Beach reported 10" of rain from midnight to midnight Sunday. Heavy rains from Isaac are lingering over Cuba but have ended in Haiti and the Dominican Republic; flash floods in Haiti from Isaac's torrential rains killed at least nineteen, and two died in the Dominican Republic.


Figure 2. Radar-estimated rainfall from Melbourne, Florida radar shows that Isaac has dumped a wide swath of 3+ inches of rain (orange colors) across the state.

Latest model runs for Isaac
The latest set of 0Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs are fairly unified taking Isaac ashore near Southeast Louisiana late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, but continue to show major differences in what happens after that. It is still uncertain if a trough of low pressure passing to the north of Isaac will be able to turn the storm due north, as the ECMWF model is predicting, or bypass the storm, allowing a more west-northwest motion into western Louisiana, like the GFS model is predicting. In either case, Isaac is likely to slow down as it approaches the coast, which will increase the damage potential fro m its wind, storm surge, and rains. The latest 8-day precipitation forecast from the GFS model calls for 10 - 20 inches of rain over much of Louisiana. The ECMWF model predicts that these heavy rains will fall more over Mississippi. It appears likely that Arkansas will see some heavy rains from Isaac late in the week, which would help put a dent in the exceptional drought conditions there.


Figure 3. Predicted precipitation for the 8-day period from 2 am Monday August 27 to 2 am Tuesday September 4, from the 2 am EDT August 27 run of the GFS model. This model is predicting a wide swath of 5 - 10 inches of rain (orange colors) will affect portions of Louisiana. Additional very heavy rains are predicted for the Midwest, as moisture from Isaac interacts with a cold front. Image credit: NOAA/NCEP.

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Isaac is currently crossing over a relatively cool eddy of water, which will keep intensification slow today. By tonight, the total heat content of the waters increases, which should aid intensification. Low wind shear of 10 knots or less is likely until landfall. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows that upper-level outflow to the north is not as strong as yesterday, which should also slow intensification today. The models forecast the upper-level outflow should improve by Tuesday. A storm this large will have trouble undergoing rapid intensification, and Isaac's most likely intensity at landfall will be as a Category 1 hurricane, which is what most of the intensity models are forecasting.


Figure 4. Track of Hurricane Gustav of 2008, which followed a path very similar to that of Isaac's predicted path.

Storm surge forecast for Isaac
Storm surge is the primary damage threat from Isaac. Isaac is a huge 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. Water levels at Shell Beach, Louisiana, just east of New Orleans, were already elevated by 1' this morning. Conversely, water levels have fallen by 2' this morning at St. Petersburg, Florida, where strong offshore winds due to Isaac's counter-clockwise circulation have carried water away from the coast. The latest 6:30 am EDT Integrated Kinetic Energy analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Isaac's winds near 0.6 on a scale of 0 to 6, but the destructive potential of Isaacs's storm surge was 2.1 on a scale of 0 to 6. I expect this destructive potential will rise above 3 by time Isaac makes landfall, making Isaac's storm surge similar to that generated by Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008, which followed a path very similar to Isaac's predicted path. Gustav brought a storm surge characteristic of a Category 1 hurricane to New Orleans: 9.5' to Lake Borgne on the east side of the city. A higher Category 2-scale surge occurred along the south-central coast of Louisiana, and was 12.5' high in Black Bay, forty miles southeast of New Orleans. Recent model runs indicate Isaac may slow down to a forward speed under 5 mph on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, close to the coast. If Isaac is just offshore at this time, the coasts of Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle will be exposed to a large storm surge with battering waves for two high tide cycles. This sort of extending pounding will be capable of delivering more damage than the storm surge of Hurricane Gustav of 2008.

The affect of storm size and angle of approach on storm surge
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.

Isaac's storm surge will provide the first test of the newly-completed New Orleans levee system upgrade. In the wake of the disastrous storm surge flooding from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Congress appropriated $14.5 billion to upgrade the New Orleans levee system to withstand a Category 3 hurricane storm surge. Katrina was a Category 3 storm at landfall, but the storm passed far enough to the east of the city that its storm surge was characteristic of a Category 1 - 2 storm at the places where the city's flood walls and levees failed. The new flood defenses were only partially completed in time for the arrival of Hurricane Gustav in 2008, which hit Central Louisiana as a Category 2 storm. Gustav brought a storm surge characteristic of a Category 1 hurricane to New Orleans: 9.5' to Lake Borgne on the east side of the city. Since that time, the imposing 2-mile long IHNC Flood Barrier has been completed to block off the funnel-shaped pair of canals on the east side of the city. I expect New Orleans' new flood defenses will be able to hold back Isaac's surge, but areas outside the levees are at risk of heavy storm surge damage.


Figure 5. A portion of New Orleans' new $14.5 billion dollar flood defenses, as taken from an Army Corps of Engineers map.

New Orleans flood defense info
Army Corps of Engineers map of the new flood defenses
Army Corps of Engineers video showing the flood defenses
New York Times article, Vast Defenses Now Shielding New Orleans

Invest 97L off the coast of Africa
A tropical wave (Invest 97L) is located in the Middle Atlantic, about 1050 miles west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. 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 Wednesday morning. None of the reliable models foresee that 97L will be a threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands, and high wind shear should begin to tear the disturbance apart on Tuesday.

Another tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on Sunday is located just south of the Cape Verde Islands. This disturbance is moving west at 10 - 15 mph, and could arrive in the Lesser Antilles around September 2. Several models develop the disturbance into a tropical depression late this week, and NHC is giving the disturbance a 10% chance of becoming a tropical depression by Wednesday morning.

Angela Fritz will have a new post here by 6 pm EDT. I'm in Atlanta to help out The Weather Channel with their on-air hurricane coverage, and will doing a few 3-minute tropical updates at 30 minutes past the hour between 2:30 - 7:30 pm EDT today.

Jeff Masters

Tropical Storm Isaac (chelina)
View from the north side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Tropical Storm Isaac
our street at noon today (seflagamma)
Aug 26, 2012: Isaac floods our street really bad. Now nearly 11
our street at noon today

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Quoting presslord:
I wonder if Stephanie would rather cover a hurricane...or a....haboob...


press... you really like Stephanie. Hope the wife doesn't get jealous. :)
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I wonder how that guy in Ft. Lauderdale is feeling with his statement that "This is nuttin, not even a good tropical storm" yesterday?
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Quoting presslord:
BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!

Stormjunkie just admitted to me over the phone that he was actually wrong about something...and that I was right!!!!!!

Back to our regularly scheduled programming....


LMAOOOOO I have been watching most of the day, makes a slow day for me more entertaining.
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Notice how the hurricane is "rejecting" the squally weather over the east coast of Florida...Satellite images make this noticeable and it shows some tightening of the hurricane also
Member Since: August 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 32
705. Skyepony (Mod)
Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 27th day of the month at 18:26Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 306)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2012
Storm Name: Isaac (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 27
Observation Number: 06
A. Time of Center Fix: 27th day of the month at 17:52:10Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 26°07'N 85°59'W (26.1167N 85.9833W)
B. Center Fix Location: 252 miles (405 km) to the WSW (239°) from Tampa, FL, USA.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,296m (4,252ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 64kts (~ 73.6mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 40 nautical miles (46 statute miles) to the NW (318°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 57° at 54kts (From the ENE at ~ 62.1mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 37 nautical miles (43 statute miles) to the NW (319°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 985mb (29.09 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 18°C (64°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,538m (5,046ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 22°C (72°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,544m (5,066ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp & 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, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 0.5 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 54kts (~ 62.1mph) in the northwest quadrant at 17:39:00Z
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Quoting MississippiWx:
12z model runs...

Euro-Mississippi
HWRF-Mississippi
Canadian-Mississippi
UKMET-Mississippi
NAM-New Orleans
GFS-Buras, Louisiana
GFDL-Morgan City, Louisiana (extreme western outlier)


Did the HWRF and CMC shift East?
Member Since: July 17, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1242
Quoting HurrMichaelOrl:
Does the "cumulative wind history" graphic depicted on the National Hurricane Center website strike anybody else as a bit generous? http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at4+shtml /163340.shtml?swath#contents The currently posted map of Isaac's winds indicated that tropical storm force winds extended up to Brooksville, FL on the West Coast and Palm Beach on the East Coast. Besides the FL Keys and offshore buoys, I would be interested to see a single report of sustained tropical storm force winds on the FL mainland from TS Isaac. I have noticed this many times before actually.

Perhaps instead, this map counts gusts to tropical storm force (yellow) and hurricane force (red) respectively?


I hope you're joking. I'm in Palm Beach County and we easily had 40 mph sustained winds with 50+ mph gusts in many squalls all night long. This was true 100 miles south of me and 100 miles north of me.
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Looks like it's bowing a little around Vero Beach/Sebastian.
Link
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There is an AMAZING phenomenon in the sky right now over south MS.

BE VERY CAREFUL - DO NOT LOOK RIGHT AT THE SUN!!! But, put your hands together to form a flat triangle to cover as you extend your arms up towards the sun.

Then look all the way around the sun, a FULL CIRCULAR RAINBOW around the sun! Awesome! :) But be careful for your eye's safety.
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If Isaac doesn't close that N section by the time it rotates to the S... it will ingest more dry air and stay at a border line TS/HURR.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
If they find 65kt data somewhere else in the cyclone I'd expect a special advisory prior to the 5p.m package.


I better not see the word CONSERVATIVE in the advisory discussion
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Either way, I feel certain that she will do an excellent job. I have never seen her fall flat yet.


As Jim Rome would say - "Rack 'em"
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
From the current recon...
why did they flew around there for???





Someone took a dump and flushed the toilet!!!
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I have seen in some of the models pressure readings of 944, 945, 943, 953 etc... I think that those might not be so off... just because we think on the winds that must be at major hurricane...the matter is that the storm is going to grow very large and with no so strong winds...

storm at landfall....

Alex 2010 100 mph 946 mb
Ike 2008 105 mph 944 mb
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Quoting TheDewd:



It's August 27th 2012, not 2011 as you say at 0:07. Tough to take you seriously when you can't get the YEAR correct.


Thanks, added an annotation correcting that!!
Wow there are some critical folks on this blog!! DEWD
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693. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Aquaimage13:


I read that it was butane and will be huge if it does blow. They even evacuated days ago, just in case. Knowing what rain does to sinkholes this doesn't sound good. Take a look in this video. AboveTopSecret did a big article on it yesterday.

Video of Sinkhole


There is supposedly radioactive waste in there too..




Quoting HurrMichaelOrl:
Does the "cumulative wind history" graphic depicted on the National Hurricane Center website strike anybody else as a bit generous? http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at4+shtml /163340.shtml?swath#contents The currently posted map of Isaac's winds indicated that tropical storm force winds extended up to Brooksville, FL on the West Coast and Palm Beach on the East Coast. Besides the FL Keys and offshore buoys, I would be interested to see a single report of sustained tropical storm force winds on the FL mainland from TS Isaac. I have noticed this many times before actually.

Perhaps instead, this map counts gusts to tropical storm force (yellow) and hurricane force (red) respectively?


Check out the local storm reports..
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good afternoon

Although several of the temperature sets are flagged as contaminated that does not mean that the surface wind for that observation is as well. Where a significant observation is shown in bold, for example a surface wind ob., that data itself is not suspect even though the temperature data might be flagged.

See this note at the bottom of a decoded page set of observations

"Significant observations that are not suspect are noted in bold."

Surface winds of close to 70 MPH are accurate and reflect the windfield responding to the pressure drop. Expect Cat 1 within an hour or two.
It looks like the eastern side is starting to insulate itself from some of the dry air too.

The folks here in NOLA seem to be taking this storm serious. Alot of preps and already alot of people leaving early. I just drove in from Baton Rouge and from the City to the I-55 exit is packed.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
60 knots, says the ATCF. Almost there; expect an upgrade this afternoon.

AL, 09, 2012082718, , BEST, 0, 261N, 859W, 60, 984, TS, 50, NEQ, 50, 15, 15, 50, 1007, 230, 30, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, ISAAC, D,
If they find 65kt data somewhere else in the cyclone I'd expect a special advisory prior to the 5p.m package.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
690. CJ5
Quoting presslord:
I sure hope Stephanie Abrams has a few jugs of water...in case she gets in a bind...


or a nice motorboat
Member Since: July 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1755
689. TXEER
Is anyone else tired of all this New Orleans stuff?

Good grief...it's going to affect Bama and MS too...just like Katrina.

Aren't there people in MS and AL as well?
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AL, 09, 2012082718, , BEST, 0, 261N, 859W, 60, 984, TS

Very close to hurricane status, could very well be one by 5pm if recon finds higher winds.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39262
I think Isaac is finally dropping the hammer now, he's got a nice symetric ball going, he might be hurricane now. He looks the best I've ever seen so far. I bet by 5:00 p.m they will announce it or earlier.
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Either way, I feel certain that she will do an excellent job.
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Has anyone noticed that with the last path of the recon plane, it lookes like the vortex has moved to the West about 40 miles?
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39262
60 knots, says the ATCF. Almost there; expect an upgrade this afternoon.

AL, 09, 2012082718, , BEST, 0, 261N, 859W, 60, 984, TS, 50, NEQ, 50, 15, 15, 50, 1007, 230, 30, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, ISAAC, D,
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Quoting presslord:
I wonder if Stephanie would rather cover a hurricane...or a....haboob...
Shame on you! Stephanie cant do anything about Haboobs
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All, I have been following this blog for serveral years now, and some of you I feel are the real experts here and not our local.
Here in Northwest FL, we are taking percaustions but what I hear from a lot of people is that it is not coming this way, no worry.
I see that it conintued to shift to the west over night and today. Any chance it might shift back to the east more?
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This feeder band rain is going to set a record I think.
Link
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:


as I said. "with bigger storm, pressures do translate, but just at slower rate than small storms, winds should increase from now on."


Yes..that 984mb is for an 80 or 85 mph hurricane. Since the storm is large...then yeah.
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Maybe a little of this is happening?

Irene

Just saying.........
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:

why no pressure?


Sometimes extrap. pressure doesn't work. There will be dropsonde data in a few minutes.
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Quoting kmanislander:
Good afternoon

Although several of the temperature sets are flagged as contaminated that does not mean that the surface wind for that observation is as well. Where a significant observation is shown in bold, for example a surface wind ob., that data itself is not suspect even though the temperature data might be flagged.

See this note at the bottom of a decoded page set of observations

"Significant observations that are not suspect are noted in bold."

Surface winds of close to 70 MPH are accurate and reflect the windfiled responding to the pressure drop. Expect Cat 1 within an hour or two.


Thanks for that helpful bit of info.
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Quoting presslord:
I sure hope Stephanie Abrams has a few jugs of water...in case she gets in a bind...


She certainly stands out much more so, than those other boobs on The Weather Channel.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39262

why no pressure?
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pouring rain now here by me
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39262
Quoting HoustonTxGal:


I saw this loop earlier and thought the same thing.. he seems headed more west.




Yup, mentioned yesterday and this morning that Isaac will likely move a bit more west. Also mentioned that he'd start to strengthen in the proximity of 28n,88w. We're watching both happen now. As he strengthens there will be less of a westerly motion and Isaack will likely resume a more wnw, nw motion, stronger and pressing up against the 1016mbs' of pressure as he searches for an escape route.
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You need to look at this. The fact that it has a forecasted track similar to Gustav does not mean that it will not affect MS Gulf COast plan for the worst.

Link
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
No, all of that data has a rain rate of <7mm/hr.


I was talking about the data he quoted. Not the raw numbers he gave. The data he quoted said ~1.65in/hr. Thats what I saw unless there was a typo.
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Quoting LargoFl:
..gee its just awful over there today and from the radar, not going to be over anytime soon
yeah, it's gonna be a looong afternoon.
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Quoting kwgirl:
Gro, looking at that picture, I believe it looks like the collision of frontal boundaries. But going in the wrong direction. Isaac's energy smacking up against that bermuda high.


Maybe that is what it is. Odd to see such long term training of bands this long in the same place. We are still getting blasted in Dade-Broward and all points North. Or as the weather lady on the news said last night, "It looks like Palm Beach is getting inundated with flooding water." LOL
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Quoting HoustonTxGal:


I noticed that earlier when I saw this loop.. he does look to be going more west.



Based on what I've been observing (radar and sat) over the past hour or two it looks like Isaac hit a brick wall and stopped moving north.
We'll see how long that continues.
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Quoting nola70119:


First bands appearing...


Sorry. Im in Wilmington NC and we beat ya to it LOL
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
ISAAC IS STRENGTHENING... FINALLY

Time: 18:01:30Z
Coordinates: 25.7167N 85.65W
Acft. Static Air Press: 841.0 mb (~ 24.83 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,443 meters (~ 4,734 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 241° at 58 knots (From the WSW at ~ 66.7 mph)
Air Temp: 16.4°C* (~ 61.5°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 60 knots (~ 69.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 60 knots (~ 69.0 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 7 mm/hr (~ 0.28 in/hr)

Time: 18:00:30Z
Coordinates: 25.7667N 85.7W
Acft. Static Air Press: 840.9 mb (~ 24.83 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 1,435 meters (~ 4,708 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: -
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 242° at 53 knots (From the WSW at ~ 60.9 mph)
Air Temp: 15.3°C* (~ 59.5°F*)
Dew Pt: -*
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 55 knots (~ 63.2 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 62 knots (~ 71.3 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 17 mm/hr (~ 0.67 in/hr)


as I said. "with bigger storm, pressures do translate, but just at slower rate than small storms, winds should increase from now on."
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Quoting xtremeweathertracker:
New Blog Update on Isaac!!



It's August 27th 2012, not 2011 as you say at 0:07. Tough to take you seriously when you can't get the YEAR correct.
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Quoting KRL:
In Palm Beach County Isaac is definitely giving new meaning and much greater respect for the descriptor "It's just a Tropical Storm". LOL

..yes thats for sure, everyone just thinks about high winds..we are finding out whats just as dangerous, maybe even more so in the long term
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39262

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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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