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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875. 7544
be safe everyone in isaccs path and my peeps in biloxi and gulfport
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
I guess GA and AL do not exist? We have had a steady rain almost all day from Isaac.


thanks edited..did I miss anyone else..LOL..eight states..WOW
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Quoting sonofagunn:
Dang, tides in Lake Pontchartrain are still rising - this NW winds and max surge are going to coincide with high tides inside the Lake.


Much Much more to come.

Isaac has yet to hit the sweet spot for driving water into Pontchartrain. Still hours away.
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I agree that hurricane category is important, but not sufficient to describe potential impacts of a hurricane. What's missing is a way to describe the total energy and area that could be impacted.

Isaac is not very strong but is impacting a large area with the big hurricane hazards : wind, storm surge and rainfall

When all is said and done, each will be significant.
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871. unc70
Quoting LurkyMcLurkerson:


A benefit to comments from different locations on a blog is that people can focus on multiple different things at once. Parts of FL got pounded yesterday, and it is related to the silly hurricane business -- damage is likely in a number of places today, it is neither negated by nor does it negate what's going on with Isaac and his center landfall.

In fact, I've been wondering a lot about the interplay between Isaac and his FL-NC coastal blob interaction with that trough to the NE. There's a lot going on there, I think, but I'll be pondering it for a while.


When Isaac was passing between Haiti and Cuba, there was a lot if convection flowing up towards an ULL that came through NC Saturday early, flooding some areas with 8-14". Ever since then there has been several flows up the east coast, one coming across eastern Florida, another on and off from further west.

There has been a clockwise rotation of the storms off the Carolina coast mist if the time. Don't see rain bands rotating that way very often nor for several days.

A reminder that when the storm bands interact with land, the stronger winds will produce intense bursts of straight line winds in addition to spinning of the tornados. We have that happen along the SE NC coast from storms like this.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Lotta times that can be due to friction from land. Pushes the system around.


So...what if that happens & this storm veers West, past the Houma, LA area....skirts the coast toward Beaumont/Sabine Pass? By the time it reached Houma, Houston/Galveston will have written it off as nothing much. Yet, theoretically, it could swing back out to sea near Galveston, trapping almost everyone in place in the Houston/Galv. area if it built back up again, then could go ashore as a cat. 4 house-wrecker.

Probably NOT at all very likely to happen, but still within the potential realm of "hurricane reality". Such a scenario could be catastrophic. These storms are dangerous. Fortunately, this Isaac seems to be more of a playful kitten compared to many past storms. (Whew!)
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Quoting jascott1967:


As Ron White once said:

"It is not that the wind is blowin'. It's what the wind is blowin."


Egg'cellent Post
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
Is Brian chasing Isaac? Does anyone have a link?
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Quoting ncstorm:
Texas, Mississippi, LA, Florida, NC and SC, .six states currently being affected by Isaac..




Alabama is to,

sheri
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Quoting ncstorm:
Texas, Mississippi, LA, Florida, NC and SC, .six states currently being affected by Isaac..


Big, dark clouds from that offshoot band here in SE Virginia
Member Since: August 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 441
Quoting CaribBoy:
My bad!! 12Z EURO AND GFS WANT A BORING FISH! I HATE THAT TREND. Just ONE day ago, that storm was supposed to enter the caribbean!
Soooo you want death an destruction?.
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Also, I'd like to say that the blog hasn't really degraded at all - it is the amount of people that come and visit us during events like Isaac that has gone up, it goes up hugely every year. Look back say, 2007. There was loads of misinformation, drama and such even then, why? Because tropical cyclones are bloody hard to predict. Now though even more data is thrown around and people simply don't agree with ones interpretation of it, including me. I come back every year because the community of regulars here are great and I have learned so much about cyclone forecasting. Back later.
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Quoting mobhurricane2011:
Um 7, you forgot alabama


thanks..edited..
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Eye about to cross over the MS Delta...
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8898
Live mobile video of chaser along MS coast headed west into Waveland MS:
Live Mobile Video

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Pac-Man?
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Here NE of pensacola FL inland area of santa rosa county, Gusting to 35-40mph with no storms over head. There are a couple squalls flying in at 45mph in the next 15 minutes though!
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We will roll info locally as thats my envelope as this is one Venue we can without distraction.

Soon the Impact will have to have our complete focus.

So if anyone can roll info.

Feel free.




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
Quoting ncstorm:
Texas, Mississippi, LA, Florida, NC and SC, .six states currently being affected by Isaac..

I guess GA and AL do not exist? We have had a steady rain almost all day from Isaac.
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Quoting ncstorm:
Texas, Mississippi, LA, Florida, NC and SC, .six states currently being affected by Isaac..

Um 7, you forgot alabama
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Quoting Carnoustie:
everyone stay safe in the bigeasy and surrounding area,s,best wishes from Scotland.


Thanks!!
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Quoting Patrap:
Power will not last long here now Uptown.

I will try to get some info to some dedicated members on the EOC Big Loop..but comm is ratty and sporadic on my end..



Pat you and yours please be safe. I was showing Caleb you on here and he remembers you and calls you paw paw Pat from wousianna. Be safe sending prayers

sheri
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853. SLU
28/1745 UTC 28.6N 88.9W T4.0/4.0 ISAAC -- Atlantic
28/1745 UTC 23.7N 43.5W T2.0/2.0 97L -- Atlantic
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everyone stay safe in the bigeasy and surrounding area,s,best wishes from Scotland.
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Quoting Patrap:
Wish us well.


See y'all on the dry side..



Be safe Pat!
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Texas, Mississippi, LA, Florida, NC and SC, Alabama, GA, VA .nine states currently being affected by Isaac..

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Quoting biff4ugo:
The wall on lake Borgne is 13 feet, right?
Is the 12' estimate Tide+surge+waves? if so the wall will hold it all back.
I wish there was a web cam focused on the outside of the wall and structures. Is there one?


surge only
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Quoting dmh1026:
and winds don't kill when a tree falls on a house crushing it or on vehicles killing it's occupants? Please...


As Ron White once said:

"It is not that the wind is blowin'. It's what the wind is blowin."
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Quoting tkeith:
Yeah it's rained here in Kenner every day for three weeks. I'll be shocked if we dont get wide spread power outages....My fence posts aint lookin too spiffy at the moment either :)


There you go......stay safe tonight and thank god its not a Cat 3.
Member Since: June 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1565
Quoting whetherboy:


Check out the image with figure 2 in the Doc's post. There appears to be numerous chemtrails associated with the convection over Florida. Perhaps there was a mad made effort to prevent moisture from being drawn into Isaac by pre-emptively triggering precipitation. This enabled the moisture to escape Isaac and be drawn north to a weak area of low pressure. It is well documented that numerous governments, including our own, engage in weather manipulation, and even the Doc noted that this event was the most "remarkable" aspect of Isaac.


Those are storm tracks there sparky. Storms usually go in straight lines. It's not HAARP, it's not chemtrails.
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Thanks for acknowledging kctinney. Lot's of posts do inform. Obvious which ones they are. That's the way it used to be. Pettiness was not a factor. Lucky I caught your post with all the activity. Glad we understand and are not alone with what has happened to most of the blog. Saw other comments over the days supporting the thought.

Had my say. Now just see what happens.
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 31
Is this just another west jog or still tracking at 310? The previous jogs lasted an hour or two.
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Quoting bigeasystormcaster:
Will do as long as I have electricity. My exact location is in Mandeville, LA about 1 mile north of Lake Pontchartrain and the Causeway Bridge.


Watch out, I think you are gonna flood up there....
Member Since: June 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1565
You can see the outer edge of Isaac on the wind map now.

http://hint.fm/wind/
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Quoting RTSplayer:
This is going to be so bad.

They just updated the rainfall forecast on TWC for the entire SE portion of Louisiana, pretty much everything east or south of Baton Rouge is now in a 12 to 20 inch predictor zone.

I repeat 12 to 20 inches forecast for this entire region.

...And 6 to 12 inches for a very large region one ring out from there (about the same thickness of a ring but in every direction).


This is going to be very, very serious inland flooding if this verifies, droughts or no drought.
Stay safe RTS, Patrap, and all who stayed behind to ride out the storm. Hoping for the best and that it moves faster than the models say.
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Quoting eyetoothtom1:
Wish for the best for all affected by this and future storms. As a little tyke whose family moved to MS Gulf Coast in "48 right after the Hurricane of 1948. That was not a direct hit there after hitting south Florida, but was bad. Went to LA or Tx after skimming MS. I've been thru or experienced the aftermath of all since. Lived in MS or Fl coast since, experienced first hand Camille, Fredrick, Geogeses, and Katrina (water to my nose @ 5 foot 6 inches nose height on land 22 feet above sea level, water swirling funiture around me, not like standing in a swimming pool that deep, floating my mother on her foam mattress with oxygen bottle. She perished nine months later from grief of losing her home since '48.

You see me as Eyetoothtom 1, I was on without the 1, back when IndianrRivergGuy posted often, he had recollection of the storm of '28 up the west coast of Fl. We chatted prior to Katrina. There was actually a link for members to contact each other. The chatting was not a post. Over the years with new computer and email address changes and lost password, couldn't sign on without new registry, thus the 1.

The blog has changed. Much bickering, I'm right, You're wrong. I predicted this two days ago. It used to be only information to help inform. And people are coming here for that.

Y'all have at it I guess. Me and ole timers like ole IndianRiverGuy will have to pass. I could never propose I'm right and you're wrong, or what's coming.

One P.S....yesteday Korinthman and some others were bemoning and saying they would get flack, but were so disappointed how weak was this storm. Bring on the next and make it better. You must not have seen the suffering? Sick!



I'm still here brother!!! Had some health issues that drove me into abject poverty for a year or so, but I'm on the road to recovery now and things look brighter.

I hope everyone is hunkered down in Nawlin's and vicinity, and Isaac passes through with no further loss of life.

I am once again inside a dang feeder band that is training right over the poor folks in Palm Beach County that got 14 inches yesterday.
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Quoting nola70119:


There has been no drought here, just the opposite, the soil is really saturated already...
Yeah it's rained here in Kenner every day for three weeks. I'll be shocked if we dont get wide spread power outages....My fence posts aint lookin too spiffy at the moment either :)
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Take care Patrap its fixin to get rough for y'all
going to be alittle while longer for me but its coming and i know it good luck



Link

Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
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Quoting sonofagunn:
Dang, tides in Lake Pontchartrain are still rising - this NW winds and max surge are going to coincide with high tides inside the Lake.


North Shore is going to be deluged....also the rivers up there will be carrying the water from the prolonged rain event.
Member Since: June 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1565
If NOLA gets 20 inches, they're going under, tides will not allow the rainfall to run off instead filling up the bowl. Dangerous situation setting up.
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Quoting Levi32:
New 12z ECMWF still has Isaac offshore at 7am CDT tomorrow morning.

Interesting. Would this allow for additional strengthening or would the water be used of all its energy?
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Quoting bigeasystormcaster:
Will do as long as I have electricity. My exact location is in Mandeville, LA about 1 mile north of Lake Pontchartrain and the Causeway Bridge.
yikes! good luck! prayers to you!
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Quoting GetReal:


Ditto here on the WestBank... My barometer reading is now 29.45 inches.


Where are y'at? I am near the Race Track on Esplanade...
Member Since: June 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1565
Dang, tides in Lake Pontchartrain are still rising - this NW winds and max surge are going to coincide with high tides inside the Lake.
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Quoting Masquer08er:
I have always been amazed how storms often (not always) steer around land. I was following the path of Isaac on WunderMap and it is truly amazing.


Lotta times that can be due to friction from land. Pushes the system around.
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Quoting whetherboy:


Check out the image with figure 2 in the Doc's post. There appears to be numerous chemtrails associated with the convection over Florida. Perhaps there was a mad made effort to prevent moisture from being drawn into Isaac by pre-emptively triggering precipitation. This enabled the moisture to escape Isaac and be drawn north to a weak area of low pressure. It is well documented that numerous governments, including our own, engage in weather manipulation, and even the Doc noted that this event was the most "remarkable" aspect of Isaac.


Hahahahahaahhahahahahaha oh man, thanks for the joke, this forum needed a little levity given what all is going on. Hilarious.
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Quoting Patrap:


Center Of Circ..yes..

I do believe.
wow! good luck! prayers to you all!
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
Keep posting and updating as long as ya can and be safe!!
Will do as long as I have electricity. My exact location is in Mandeville, LA about 1 mile north of Lake Pontchartrain and the Causeway Bridge.
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Hey gang...just went up to the lake....steady winds around 40 mph..gusting to over 50...starting to get a little hairy...will try and take some pics for you folks as the day and night progresses..
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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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