Isaac makes its final approach towards Louisiana

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2012

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The winds and water are rising all along the coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle as Tropical Storm Isaac makes its final approach. Two hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm are measuring a steadily lowering pressure and increasing winds aloft, but hurricane-force winds have not yet been observed at the surface. The 8:30 am center fix found a pressure of 976 mb, which is very low for a tropical storm. Top surface winds measured with the SFMR instrument were 70 mph, but the plane measured 102 mph at an altitude of 5,000 feet. It's more typical to see surface winds of 85 mph with a storm with these characteristics. Infrared and visible satellite loops and hurricane hunter reports from this morning have shown that Isaac has developed a 25-mile diameter eye, though the eyewall has not yet formed a full circle around the eye. Heavy thunderstorm activity is lacking on the north side, where light wind shear of 5 -10 knots is still pumping some dry air into the circulation.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Isaac. Note how dry air has wrapped into the west side of the storm, causing a lack of heavy thunderstorm activity.

Isaac's rains
One of the most remarkable features of Isaac has been the huge spiral band that parked itself along most of the east coast of Florida and remained there for an entire day, despite the fact the center of the storm moved 400 miles away. This rain band was amplified by a weak trough of low pressure along the East Coast, which pulled away from the coast Monday night, taking the band of heavy rain out to sea (except for a few lingering showers near West Palm Beach.) Isaac's heaviest rains fell along a swath from the east coast of Florida near West Palm Beach to the center of the state, just south of Orlando. The 2-day rainfall total of 9.03" at West Palm Beach brought their monthly rainfall total to 22.28", a new August record (old record: 20.12" in 1995.) Vero Beach's 6.48" of rain was a record for any August day. A possible tornado touched down there, damaging 20 mobile homes. In the Keys, rainfall totals as high as 7.94" (at Upper Matecumbe Key) were measured. 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 24, and two died in the Dominican Republic. The big concern in Haiti is the heavy damage that was done to crops, and the likelihood that the storm's rains will worsen the cholera epidemic that has killed over 7,000 Haitians.


Figure 2. Radar-estimated rainfall from Miami, Florida radar shows that Isaac has dumped a wide swath of 8+ inches of rain (orange colors) across the state. Rainfall amounts in excess of 20" may have fallen just west of West Palm Beach, though the highest amount reported by a rain gauge was 13.10" at Greenacres in Palm Beach County.

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 some differences in what happens after that. Isaac may scoot nearly west-northwest just inland along the coast into Texas, as predicted by the ECMWF model, or head straight inland to the northwest and into Arkansas, as predicted by the GFS model. The latest 8-day precipitation forecast from the GFS model calls for 10 - 20 inches of rain over much of Louisiana. It appears likely that Arkansas will see some heavy rains of up to five inches, which would help put a dent in the exceptional drought conditions there.

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Low wind shear of 10 knots or less is likely until landfall, along with very warm ocean temperatures. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows that Isaac's upper-level outflow is the strongest we've seen, with a solid outflow channel to the south. These conditions favor continued strengthening of Isaac until landfall. However, we've observed in the past many instances of hurricanes suddenly weakening in the final 12 hours before making landfall along the Central Gulf Coast. Katrina, Gustav, Dennis, Ivan, and Rita all did so. A July 2012 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Rosenfeld et al. titled, AEROSOL EFFECTS ON MICROSTRUCTURE AND INTENSITY OF TROPICAL CYCLONES, theorizes that this may happen because of the impact of small particles that get pulled into the outer circulation of hurricanes, seeding the clouds. These small particles, primarily from air pollution, serve as the seed around which water condenses, increasing the rain in the outer spiral bands. The increase in rain and heat energy at the periphery of the storm comes at the expense of the eyewall and inner core, where the winds tend to weaken. A detailed modeling study by Khain et al. (2010) of Hurricane Katrina in the final day before landfall was able to reproduce the storm's weakening only when this air pollution effect was included. This impact of small particles on hurricanes is not included in any operational hurricane model.


Figure 3. Tide gauge data from Shell Beach, located in Lake Borgne just east of New Orleans. The green line shows the storm surge. The red line is the storm tide, the height of the water above Mean Sea Level (MSL.)

Storm surge observations from Isaac
Isaac's storm surge has peaked along the west coast of Florida. As I explain in our Storm Surge Tutorial, we are most interested in the storm tide--the height above Mean Sea Level (MSL) of the tide plus the storm surge. The storm tide is the number given in NHC advisories for how much above ground level the ocean will be at the coast. The storm surge is the extra elevation of the water due to wind blowing on the water, and does not include the action of waves on top of the water, nor the tide. Tide gauges are specially constructed so that transient waves do not impact water level measurements. At Cedar Key on the West Florida coast north of Tampa, a storm surge of 3' and storm tide of 3.8' were observed early this morning. These were the highest water levels measured at any tide gauge along the Florida west coast. Higher storm surges are occurring in the Florida Panhandle. As of 9 am EDT, here were the storm surge/storm tide measurements along the Florida Panhandle:

Apalachicola, FL: 3.5' storm surge, 4' storm tide
Panama City, FL: 2.3' storm surge, 3.3' storm tide
Pensacola, FL: 1.5' storm surge, 2.5' storm tide

A storm surge of 3.5 feet was recorded at 10 am EDT at Shell Beach on the east side of New Orleans in Lake Borgne. This site will have one of the highest surge values during Isaac; a storm surge of 9.5' was measured at Shell Beach during Hurricane Gustav in 2008.


Figure 4. Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008 followed a very similar path to Isaac, and brought a storm tide (the combined effect of the storm surge and tidal levels) of up to 14.5' above ground level to the east side of New Orleans. Isaac's surge may be similar, though probably a little less, than Gustav's.


Figure 5. Track of Hurricane Gustav of 2008, which followed a path very similar to that of Isaac's predicted path.

Isaac: similar to Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008 in destructive power?
Isaac is a huge and slow-moving storm, with tropical storm-force winds that extend out 205 miles from the center. Isaac has cut its forward speed down from 14 mph yesterday to 10 mph today, and a large swath of the coast will be subject to high winds and a large storm surge for an usually long period of time for a hurricane--up to 24 hours. Long duration winds are much more damaging than short duration winds, and a long duration storm surge event allows damage to occur during multiple high tide cycles. The long duration storm event will also allow very high rainfall totals, resulting in greater fresh-water flooding problems than usual. As a result, I expect Isaac's to cause more damage than the typical Category 1 hurricane. The 9:30 am EDT Integrated Kinetic Energy analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division put the destructive potential of Isaac's winds near 2.3 on a scale of 0 to 6, but the destructive potential of Isaacs's storm surge was 4.1 on a scale of 0 to 6. For comparison, the storm surge destructive potential of Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008 was rated at 4.2 on a scale of 0 to 6, and the wind destructive potential was 1.1--which is lower than Isaac's, even though Isaac was just a tropical storm at 9:30 am EDT. Gustav brought a storm tide (the combined height of the storm surge and high tide) of 14.5' to the east side of New Orleans, and 11' to Waveland, Mississippi. However, the destructive potential of Isaac's surge may be overrated by this analysis. Wave heights this morning from buoy and ships in Isaac have mostly been below 15', which is quite unimpressive. One ship report to the SE of the storm had a 19' wave height (thanks to meteorologist Steve Gregory for pointing this out.) With only another 12 - 18 hours over water, Isaac likely won't have time for its slowing increasing winds to build up a storm surge that will reach as high as 14', like Gustav did. The official NHC forecast of maximum storm surge height of 12' looks like a good one. The highest rainfall total observed in Gustav was 21" at Larto Lake, Louisiana, and I expect we'll exceed that for Isaac, since the storm is moving more slowly. Gustav spawned 41 tornadoes--21 in Mississippi, 11 in Louisiana, 6 in Florida, 2 in Arkansas, and 1 in Alabama. The strongest tornado was an EF2 in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana. Isaac will likely produce 10+ tornadoes. The total damage from Gustav in the U.S. was $4.5 billion (2012 dollars.) I expect Isaac's damage total will be in the $500 million - $4 billion range.

Invest 97L in the Middle Atlantic
A tropical wave (Invest 97L) is located in the Middle Atlantic, about 1250 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 40% chance of developing by Thursday morning. None of the reliable models foresee that 97L will be a threat to any land areas.

Another tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on Sunday is located just southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, and is moving west at 15 mph. 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 Thursday morning. The disturbance could begin to affect the Northern Lesser Antilles as early as Saturday night, though our two best models, the GFS and ECMWF, predict the center of the disturbance will pass a few hundred miles north of the islands. The disturbance could be a long-range threat to Bermuda.

Jeff Masters

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1575. wanzewurld
8:29 PM GMT on August 29, 2012
This is a strange storm from beginning to present - It never grew as one would expect such a large depression to do when it entered the Gulf and has remained unusual, despite the explanations of why it never grew, did this, or did that, and remains out of the ordinary with its slow movement and lack of degradation. I'm headed out to take photos and videos with Stub, the wonder dog, in tow. Stay safe, everyone.
Member Since: August 21, 2005 Posts: 29 Comments: 46
1574. MrNatural
3:20 PM GMT on August 29, 2012
Is there a chance that that tropical wave between Cuba and the Yucatan may catch with the remnants of Isaac?
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1573. snow2fire
1:18 AM GMT on August 29, 2012
test posting picture on old blog

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/floaters/09L/imag ery/swir-animated.gif

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1572. synthvol
1:00 AM GMT on August 29, 2012
On radar, it looks like the eye is crawling along the coastline westbound.
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1571. synthvol
12:55 AM GMT on August 29, 2012
The CG is marshalled up here at KBPT.


The latest OB at Lakefront:
KNEW 290041Z 03045G56KT 3/4SM -SN BKN022 OVC030 A2940 RMK AO2 PK WND 03057/0006 SNB17 P0014 FZRANO

SNOW???? Isaac is confusing even the ASOS'. Guh!


Link
Member Since: July 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 68
1570. leftlink
12:14 AM GMT on August 29, 2012
NEW LOW PRESSURE, SEE BELOW!

Quoting leftlink:
Wind direction shift at 4pm cst to NE-50 at pstl1 suggests another small jog west! Pressure down to 28.91inches, and the pressure at LOPL1 is also falling really fast, so the storm will probably shoot the gap between the center of these two stations, headed WNW, towards the coast just south of Houma.


I was wrong -- the storm made it to the PSTL1 station. The pressure has plummeted to 28.71 inches, or 972.2mb. The station was in the eye, as of 6:36pm central time!

position 28.93 N 89.40 W

Member Since: December 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 134
1569. gregpinehurstnc
10:41 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
to all in the gulf, be aware and do what you always do.. be safe , and follow your greatgrandfolks advice. hide from the wind, run from the rain.. the best you can do..is what can be done..
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 88
1568. StormHype
10:10 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting Scottcenfla:
Interesting that Isaac only seemed to get it's act somewhat together once it came near shore. Looks like it shrugged off some of the dry air that was being drawn in.

Raises a curiosity that possibly the warm bay/inlet waters could be helping intensify it. Surely that heat content couldn't sustain for long.

Seems I remember a hurricane some years ago traveling from west to east over the everglades here in Florida and actually intensified before hitting the backside of the east coast of Florida, Miami area possibly. The mets at the time mentioned the warm everglades was the reason.


Remember Fay? I think it fed off the everglades for a full day.
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1210
1567. eyetoothtom1
10:07 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Nash Roberts is the meteorologist/televison personality who had experience and savvy to accurately forecast probable tracks. Got it right all my life while he did that. Was never NHC director. Just remembering ole Nash, gone to meteroroical front and making sure heaven is in the right place for us all. No wobble.
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 31
1566. naviguesser
10:05 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
new blog
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1565. RTSplayer
9:53 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
15.39 inches of rain bullseye almost directly over the top of my house.

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1564. redwagon
9:52 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Isaac is like a big chunk of sammich meat, stuck in between two overly-sized buns. And, it's a wet, soggy sammich at that!



Looking at this steering and latest sfc charts, he almost has to turn more due north, then eventually neast inland.

I'm behind the path that moistens up the Midwest's planting fields. Keep slow and strong, Isaac, and throw rain at our farmlands, as much as you can.
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1563. RTSplayer
9:51 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Euro has 960mb land fall...

Probably out of the question now.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1562. Scottcenfla
9:44 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Interesting that Isaac only seemed to get it's act somewhat together once it came near shore. Looks like it shrugged off some of the dry air that was being drawn in.

Raises a curiosity that possibly the warm bay/inlet waters could be helping intensify it. Surely that heat content couldn't sustain for long.

Seems I remember a hurricane some years ago traveling from west to east over the everglades here in Florida and actually intensified before hitting the backside of the east coast of Florida, Miami area possibly. The mets at the time mentioned the warm everglades was the reason.
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
1561. LAlurker
9:38 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting atmosweather:
Hurricane forced sustained winds and close to 100 mph gusts now occurring on the KMIS oil platform:

Station KMIS
Federal Aviation Administration
Location: 29.296N 88.842W
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2012 20:55:00 UTC
Winds: SSE (150°) at 69.0 kt gusting to 85.1 kt
Air Temperature: 80.6 F
Dew Point: 77.0 F
Visibility: 0.2 nmi


85m anenometer height
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1560. bigwes6844
9:37 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
NEW BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!
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1559. UpperLevelLOL
9:36 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting WxNerdVA:


Goodnight TD11.


Good grief, that is some impressive shear
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1558. gulfbreeze
9:36 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Big limb just blew out top of my Maple tree missed my car by 6 ft.
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1557. CybrTeddy
9:36 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting Wiiilbur:


Careful. If you go around posting the truth the panic mongers will get upset with you.


It's not like Isaac's suddenly going to blow up because some of the more zealous posters are saying it should.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24574
1556. nola70119
9:35 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
The new blog has nothing new and it breaks up the flow of information I need...
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1555. bigwes6844
9:35 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting Patrap:


Hang tough..settle in...itsa gonna be a LONG haul and Night till Dawn.

Thanx for the Obs too.
im a try Pat
Member Since: July 25, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2751
1554. LurkyMcLurkerson
9:35 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
The interplay of Isaac and his NE blobby buildup along with that high pressure -- that's looking like it could be a serious stormy mess to me. It's really friggin' interesting.
Member Since: August 26, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 368
1553. indianrivguy
9:34 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting aspectre:
1455 CybrTeddy Didn't notice that Indianrivguy was back

Never left, jes showin' himself less often. Probably been poppin' in when you weren't readin' the blog.


was gone for at least 300 days.. that's how old all my updates were when I got back online. It really pulled a vacuum and I missed this joint something awful.
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1552. FLPandhandleJG
9:34 PM GMT on August 28, 2012




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1551. CosmicEvents
9:34 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Dr. Masters brings up a very interesting point with the eye within an eye structure. On TWC now.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5684
1550. ironbanks
9:33 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
I am just West of NOLA. The weather is starting to degenerate. Wind still out of the NE gusting to about 40 mph so far. Still have power but some friends in the city are out. Thank god this is not a cat 3 or larger. The track this is taking is the one that all my friends and I said was the doomsday for NOLA region. Still will be bad enough with the slow forward speed and rain totals.
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1549. flcanes
9:33 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Very interesting and intense mesovortex inside Isaac's eye on GR2Analyst. There is also some very strong wind about to rotate westward into East Louisiana.

hey satrap, how are conditions there
Member Since: August 20, 2012 Posts: 13 Comments: 1254
1548. dexware
9:33 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Electric Outages can be watched in Louisiana here:

Entergy
Link

and Demco
Link

Member Since: August 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4
1547. CJ5
9:33 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
This is the best Isaac has ever looked. Good news he doesn't have another 24 hours over water or it could be much worse. I believe he will strength further before he starts to decline.
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1545. Tazmanian
9:32 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
at lest recon dont have far to go lol
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1544. divdog
9:32 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting moonlightcowboy:


You ask hard questions! ;)

He can only do one of two things:
1. Come inland, degenerate.
2. Get blocked with the plains high bridging with the weak, lateral trough lifted out. Stalling partially over land/water, maybe even heading back out to sea.

Sssshhhhh! It'll most likely be #1; but, don't repeat this, but it would not totally surprise me if the latter happened! ;)
Good points. I guess it is time to watch and learn from u guys. We need the level heads in here when this all gets real and crazy. Good luck to all
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1543. Michfan
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
BBL tonight. Stay safe guys.
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1542. moonlightcowboy
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Isaac is like a big chunk of sammich meat, stuck in between two overly-sized buns. And, it's a wet, soggy sammich at that!



Looking at this steering and latest sfc charts, he almost has to turn more due north, then eventually neast inland.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
1541. stormchaser19
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Doc in TWC
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1540. Felix2007
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Dr. Masters on TWC again. If this is gonna continue maybe I'll actually like TWC again.
Member Since: July 12, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 383
1539. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
1538. NCSaint
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting mitthbevnuruodo:


Hmmm, could nearly say the biggest cane EVER...stretching in some way from central Mexico to off the coast of N/S Carolina :o
I recall Gilbert with it's very tight, defined eye pretty much filled the entire gulf with no dry air intrusion....that one even had good old Dr. Sheets in awe
Member Since: September 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 75
1537. Patrap
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting NOLALawyer:


LOL, Pat. You talk like you type. I thought the Dr. Jawwn bit was just for effect.


Yeah, well's ya know..it's like, Where ya at, Bra'

: )
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129760
1536. weatherh98
9:31 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
dr masters on tv
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1535. LargoFl
9:30 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting Patrap:
Mayan doom pat..stay safe up there
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42029
1534. washingaway
9:30 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Just had a nice little squall come through. Cindy back in 2005 gave me one heck a squall that snapped a power pole in two, and put the neighbor's tree on my house. I was outside at the time, scared the dickens out of me. So be aware.
Member Since: July 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1163
1533. weatherh98
9:30 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Very interesting and intense mesovortex inside Isaac's eye on GR2Analyst. There is also some very strong wind about to rotate westward into East Louisiana. Everybody stay safe because this is just the beginning.


send me that image in text.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
1532. NOLALawyer
9:30 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting Patrap:
Published on Aug 28, 2012 by patrap
Hurricane ISSAC, Uptown NOLA 3:10 PM CDT 28 Aug 2012


LOL, Pat. You talk like you type. I thought the Dr. Jawwn bit was just for effect.
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 520
1531. Chicklit
9:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting WxNerdVA:


Goodnight TD11.

It's a jelly fish
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11423
1530. PalmBeachWeather
9:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting HurricaneIsabel:


I know. Most guys on this site would call a tropical depression a major hurricane. It's sickening to see most wish these storms were stronger and false cast these storms. Isaac isn't significant, maybe next year guys. Probably will make landfall as tropical storm, I know this will make most of you upset. Also, the storm surge isn't bad at all. Most won't lose power, Minor flooding, Biggest threat is tornados.
Isabel....You are a detriment and a hinderance to this blog... I try to avoid your posts ,BUT , this one has the intelligence of an Aardvark
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6000
1529. WXGulfBreeze
9:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting Beachfoxx:
He's been a tricky storm! We thought we had a bullseye on us in Destin/Niceville (3 days ago) and bizarre Isaac has defied us! Here on the bay we have a surge of a couple to 3 feet, no rain today & gusty winds around 30mph. Mid day was gorgeous, sunshine... A tricky storm indeed!


What a difference a few miles makes. We're getting hit pretty hard in GB right now.
Member Since: March 9, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 150
1528. TropicalAnalystwx13
9:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Very interesting and intense mesovortex inside Isaac's eye on GR2Analyst. There is also some very strong wind about to rotate westward into East Louisiana. Everybody stay safe because this is just the beginning.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32801
1527. Tazmanian
9:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
recon took off
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1526. Patrap
9:29 PM GMT on August 28, 2012
Quoting bigwes6844:
Pat im at 45 mph NNE near the lakefront


Hang tough..settle in...itsa gonna be a LONG haul and Night till Dawn.

Thanx for the Obs too.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129760

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