Hurricane Isaac hits Louisiana, driving dangerous storm surges

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:27 AM GMT on August 29, 2012

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Hurricane Isaac is ashore over Southeast Louisiana, having officially crossed the coast on the Mississippi Delta 90 miles southeast of New Orleans at 7:45 am EDT on August 28. Isaac intensified right up until landfall, striking with 80 mph winds and a central pressure of 970 mb. The storm's large size and large 50 - 60 mile diameter eye kept the intensification rate slow today, but it came quite close to becoming a significantly more dangerous storm. That's because at landfall, Isaac was in the midst of establishing a small inner eyewall within its large 50-mile diameter eye, a very rare feat I've never seen before. Usually, when an eye first forms, it gradually contracts, eventually becoming so small that it becomes unstable. An outer concentric eyewall then forms around the small inner eyewall, eventually becoming the only eyewall when the inner eyewall collapses. But Isaac is a very unusual storm that has continually surprised us, and this inside-out concentric eyewall formation fits the storm's unusual character. The storm isn't in a hurry to move fully inland, and has slowed down to a crawl this evening. This will give the storm the opportunity to keep its center mostly over water a few more hours, and maintain hurricane strength into the early morning on Wednesday.


Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image from New Orleans as Isaac made landfall at 6 pm CDT August 28, 2012.

A dangerous storm surge event underway
Isaac is bringing large and dangerous storm surge to the coast from Central Louisiana to the Panhandle of Florida. At 10 pm EDT, here were some of the storm surge values being recorded at NOAA tide gauges:

6.2' Waveland, MS
9.9' Shell Beach, LA
3.0' Pensacola, FL
4.4' Pascagoula, MS
3.4' Mobile, AL

The 9.9' storm surge at Shell Beach, which is in Lake Borgne 20 miles southeast of New Orleans, exceeds the 9.5' surge recorded there during Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008. Research scientists running a Doppler on Wheels radar located on top of the 16' levees in Plaquemines Parish near Port Sulphur, LA, reported at 8:30 pm EDT that a storm surge of 14' moved up the Mississippi River, and was just 2' below the levees. Waves on top of the surge were cresting over the west side of the levee. Needless to say, they were very nervous. Over the past hour, the surge has retreated some, and waves were no longer lapping over the top of the levee. This is probably due to the fact that we're headed towards low tide. A storm surge of 9.5' has moved up the Mississippi River to the Carrrollton gauge in New Orleans. This is not a concern for the levees in New Orleans, since the storm surge has now brought the river up to 2.5' above its normal water level, which was 7' low due to the 2012 U.S. drought. The highest rise of the water above ground level will occur Wednesday morning over much of Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle, when the tide comes back in. It is clear now that this storm surge event will be as dangerous as that of Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008. One piece of good news: NWS New Orleans successfully launched their 00Z balloon. However, their discussion noted the atmosphere is "saturated or nearly saturated" all the way up to 470mb, or 20,000 feet. Precipitable water was 2.76 inches, which will be ripe for extremely heavy rainfall.


Figure 2. Tide gauge data from Shell Beach, located on the south shore of 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.)

Portlight disaster relief charity responds to Issac
The Portlight.org disaster relief charity, founded and staffed by members of the wunderground community, have mobilized resources in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Isaac. Their crew, including 2 EMTs, is at the Biloxi Special Needs Shelter, and will be caring for shelter dwellers and doing rescues of people who call for help. Another team will be surveying all the shelters in the area to ensure that they are accessible to all people. You can donate to Portlight's disaster relief fund here.

I'll have more in the morning. Hunker down, New Orleans. It's going to be a long night.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting silverstripes:
Issac seems to be moving in southern direction away from the coast in the IR satellite. Recon also confirmed a SSW movement from the last two center fixes. Curious what the next center fix shows.


I know storms have wobbles, but does anyone know why Isaac is going w/wsw now? Is the high pressure building in or too strong for him to keep going more northerly?
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Alexandria, LA here...been waiting for this thing...moving westward???? REALLY????
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Carrollton, LA

Data from station is reporting that the water level has risen 2.5 feet and still climbing.
If you look at google it doesn't look like that place would take much to flood that area.
Google Map
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36 hrs. this is a slow mover...

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Quoting Stormchaser121:

Does this mean NOW the NHC agrees on a west path???


Apparently not as far as the GFS and Nam. I really couldn't tell they shifted their track much at all. So They aren't agreeing with a west path.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
Quoting xtremeweathertracker:


Yeah here is one of those fancy maps we Texans use thats no better that the Xtrap Model!! GFS at 18 hrs!! Isaac moving west just south of LA!!

I bet this is what happends!! The high is pushing it west!
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Working on a solid ring of deep convection around the center. Isaac may miss land and ride the coast if Nward movements don't return soon.

Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Per Wungerground twitter feed "Hurricane hunter data showing Isaac taking a jog to the southwest. "
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Fundamentals.

Earlier someone asked me simply what I thought would happen with track. My answer may have sounded kind of trite - if so, I apologize. :) I said Isaac could:

1. Move inland, degenerate
2. Move back out into the open water (basically)

I think I mentioned a stall three days ago, but I didn't think it would happen quite this close to shore. The stall then was predicated by a still strong tongue of high pressure on the western periphery of the econus high. Didn't quite work out like that.

So, here's what has happened and may happen. Couple choices still. I'd thought the shallow shortwave trough would be enough to pull Isaac nw, n and then ne finally over the old Camille and Katrina gulf ruts, given his strengthening. That has not happened. If you've been following of few of my posts, I also mentioned that the sfc maps and charts are not likely in 'exact' real time and could be somewhat deceptive. So, in short, the plains high has effectively pinched the 'weak' weakness if you will northeast, and the plains high has become lateral over Isaac now, hence the stall.

FUNDAMENTALS. :) An ol' pal, Rand, shared one thing true with me after Katrina - if you've any doubts, look at a water vapor loop! So, that's what I did - got a wv loop of the big conus picture. In more real time now one can clearly see that the plains high is nearly totally laterally over Isaac, and the shortwave trough boat has all but already sailed. Isaac would probably have to be a CAT 2 or 3 to be tall and strong enough to feel that departing weakness and make that nw, n and ne move I mentioned earlier. He still has a chance, but it's getting more negligible.

Here's the wv pix and LOOP LINK.



So, what happens now? Isaac has indeed mostly stalled despite his slight jogging westwards. Where does he go?

Somewhat deceptive steering chart layer for Isaac:



That neasterly weakness is weak, almost gone. Isaac can't find it. The eastern periphery of the plains high is weaker on the seast side and in tandem with Isaac's general wnw/nw motion. So, he will attempt to move into that direction, but the plains high is still strong and getting more dominant and lateral over the storm. If he comes inland and stall, he could very well deteriorate there, somewhere over Houma or north of Morgan City. And, that's if the plains high does not deepen further southwards.

If the plains high deepens and strengthens (has been) and bridges towards the western side of the BA high, then we truly have a stalled system. It will take several hours to upwell and diminish strength over open water - probably 20 hours or more would be my guess. That's one scenario: inland or upwelling deterioration.

Here's the other: CALL ME CRAZY! ;P

He's over water. He has hardly any place to go inland. He'll either diminish or continue to look for an escape route. All storms want to go poleward, so he'll look for even the slightest weakness - this is all very slow, but not too slow to upwell and diminish. Westwards? TX? Could be. But, my thinking is that there'll be still enough of a hint of the weakness that will stop Isaac and the motion will move slowly back neastwards/eastwards, maybe even still over open water, traversing the coastline back east causing more pain and grief. Yes, you're right - that'd be certifiable, commitment-type thinking! ;P Probably won't happen, but those are the options, geeks, with a blocking high! :)

Plz don't laugh! ;)


Nobody should laugh at that at all and you summed that up about as best as anyone could in my opinion. I think the same exact thing.
Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 635
Quoting justsouthofnola:


he said sustained 100 mph
No he did not. He said GUSTS of 100-120.
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According to this for Grand Isle, LA: http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KGAO/2 012/08/28/DailyHistory.html

10:35pm N wind 58mph, gusting to 75. Station updates every 20 minutes.
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Over 10 feet now at Shell Beach



Over 11 feet up the Mississippi River in Belle Chasse.

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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Fundamentals.

Earlier someone asked me simply what I thought would happen with track. My answer may have sounded kind of trite - if so, I apologize. :) I said Isaac could:

1. Move inland, degenerate
2. Move back out into the open water (basically)

I think I mentioned a stall three days ago, but I didn't think it would happen quite this close to shore. The stall then was predicated by a still strong tongue of high pressure on the western periphery of the econus high. Didn't quite work out like that.

So, here's what has happened and may happen. Couple choices still. I'd thought the shallow shortwave trough would be enough to pull Isaac nw, n and then ne finally over the old Camille and Katrina gulf ruts, given his strengthening. That has not happened. If you've been following of few of my posts, I also mentioned that the sfc maps and charts are not likely in 'exact' real time and could be somewhat deceptive. So, in short, the plains high has effectively pinched the 'weak' weakness if you will northeast, and the plains high has become lateral over Isaac now, hence the stall.

FUNDAMENTALS. :) An ol' pal, Rand, shared one thing true with me after Katrina - if you've any doubts, look at a water vapor loop! So, that's what I did - got a wv loop of the big conus picture. In more real time now one can clearly see that the plains high is nearly totally laterally over Isaac, and the shortwave trough boat has all but already sailed. Isaac would probably have to be a CAT 2 or 3 to be tall and strong enough to feel that departing weakness and make that nw, n and ne move I mentioned earlier. He still has a chance, but it's getting more negligible.

Here's the wv pix and LOOP LINK.



So, what happens now? Isaac has indeed mostly stalled despite his slight jogging westwards. Where does he go?

Somewhat deceptive steering chart layer for Isaac:



That neasterly weakness is weak, almost gone. Isaac can't find it. The eastern periphery of the plains high is weaker on the seast side and in tandem with Isaac's general wnw/nw motion. So, he will attempt to move into that direction, but the plains high is still strong and getting more dominant and lateral over the storm. If he comes inland and stall, he could very well deteriorate there, somewhere over Houma or north of Morgan City. And, that's if the plains high does not deepen further southwards.

If the plains high deepens and strengthens (has been) and bridges towards the western side of the BA high, then we truly have a stalled system. It will take several hours to upwell and diminish strength over open water - probably 20 hours or more would be my guess. That's one scenario: inland or upwelling deterioration.

Here's the other: CALL ME CRAZY! ;P

He's over water. He has hardly any place to go inland. He'll either diminish or continue to look for an escape route. All storms want to go poleward, so he'll look for even the slightest weakness - this is all very slow, but not too slow to upwell and diminish. Westwards? TX? Could be. But, my thinking is that there'll be still enough of a hint of the weakness that will stop Isaac and the motion will move slowly back neastwards/eastwards, maybe even still over open water, traversing the coastline back east causing more pain and grief. Yes, you're right - that'd be certifiable, commitment-type thinking! ;P Probably won't happen, but those are the options, geeks, with a blocking high! :)

Plz don't laugh! ;)


BTW it was me that you were talking to, you said I asked a hard question.
;=)
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The river gages are showing significant increase in water levels. Mississippi at Baton Rouge up 3.62 ft. in 24 hours; at West Pointe a la Hache (river marker 48.7) up 11.2 ft. in 24 hours; New Orleans (Carrollton) up 9.4 ft in 24 hours.
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Quoting Patrap:
Nola Roux with first two..


wOOf! Congratulations!!
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00z GFS 30 hrs.

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Big waves here.....

Link
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351. Mikla
Moving west...
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btw its going down hill fast real fast..... wind is up to 70 mph easy

Lockport, LA
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Quoting Stormchaser121:

Yeah. Even though its the truth.


Yeah here is one of those fancy maps we Texans use thats no better that the Xtrap Model!! GFS at 18 hrs!! Isaac moving west just south of LA!!

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Quoting ArkWeather:
Looks like Isaac is taking a wobble SW again on radar. Seems to be determined to stay over water.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Isaac loop around the vicinity of the coast for the majority of the night.
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you gotta love mike sidell from the TWC. our local news needs a history lesson...
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Quoting kidd5433:


He is a wind-wish-caster
He has been the mayor on Grand Isle forever. He's been thru a ton of storms. Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish President, also said this was way worse than expected, and worse than Gustav. He lives in north Plaquemine, but says the damage to his house is worse than it was in Katrina. I'm gonna go with the guys that are actually THERE and have experience with this kind of thing. It's pretty clear it was worse than expected at the coast. He didn't say it was sustained at over 100, said gusts. I believe him. And Nungesser.
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


Just reporting what I saw on T.V. Jefferson Parish President said the mayor of Grand Isle said gusts at 120mph.


he said sustained 100 mph
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Quoting RTSplayer:
New steering.




Sloooow mover.


Trough doesn't seem to be digging as deep.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


They aren't. But they think the high will back east and Isaac will round it moving nw,n,ne...etc. Doesn't exactly make sense to me either. But they're the experts. :)

SMOOTHING THROUGH THE WOBBLES DURING THE PAST FEW HOURS...THE LONGER
TERM MOTION ESTIMATE IS 310/7 KT. ISAAC IS EXPECTED TO MOVE SLOWLY
NORTHWESTWARD DURING THE NEXT 24 TO 36 HOURS AS A MID-LEVEL RIDGE TO
THE NORTHWEST OF THE CYCLONE SLIDES EASTWARD. AS THE RIDGE MOVES
ACROSS THE OHIO VALLEY AND INTO THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION...THIS
SHOULD CAUSE ISAAC TO TURN NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD AND NORTHWARD IN A
COUPLE OF DAYS. AFTER THAT TIME...THE CYCLONE IS EXPECTED TO TURN
NORTHEASTWARD AS IT ENTERS THE MID-LATITUDE WESTERLY FLOW. THE
GLOBAL MODEL GUIDANCE HAS BEEN SHIFTING WESTWARD DURING THE PAST
COUPLE OF RUNS...AND THE NHC FORECAST HAS BEEN ADJUSTED IN THAT
DIRECTION.



Does this mean NOW the NHC agrees on a west path???
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Quoting DavidHOUTX:


You beat me to it. He has plenty of model evidence to show that... and of course this map below compliments of RTS from post 289. You can clearly see the High pressure moving east very fast which will push Isaac west.

they did say it was wobbling west, parallel to coast...
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Fundamentals.

Earlier someone asked me simply what I thought would happen with track. My answer may have sounded kind of trite - if so, I apologize. :) I said Isaac could:

1. Move inland, degenerate
2. Move back out into the open water (basically)

I think I mentioned a stall three days ago, but I didn't think it would happen quite this close to shore. The stall then was predicated by a still strong tongue of high pressure on the western periphery of the econus high. Didn't quite work out like that.

So, here's what has happened and may happen. Couple choices still. I'd thought the shallow shortwave trough would be enough to pull Isaac nw, n and then ne finally over the old Camille and Katrina gulf ruts, given his strengthening. That has not happened. If you've been following of few of my posts, I also mentioned that the sfc maps and charts are not likely in 'exact' real time and could be somewhat deceptive. So, in short, the plains high has effectively pinched the 'weak' weakness if you will northeast, and the plains high has become lateral over Isaac now, hence the stall.

FUNDAMENTALS. :) An ol' pal, Rand, shared one thing true with me after Katrina - if you've any doubts, look at a water vapor loop! So, that's what I did - got a wv loop of the big conus picture. In more real time now one can clearly see that the plains high is nearly totally laterally over Isaac, and the shortwave trough boat has all but already sailed. Isaac would probably have to be a CAT 2 or 3 to be tall and strong enough to feel that departing weakness and make that nw, n and ne move I mentioned earlier. He still has a chance, but it's getting more negligible.

Here's the wv pix and LOOP LINK.



So, what happens now? Isaac has indeed mostly stalled despite his slight jogging westwards. Where does he go?

Somewhat deceptive steering chart layer for Isaac:



That neasterly weakness is weak, almost gone. Isaac can't find it. The eastern periphery of the plains high is weaker on the seast side and in tandem with Isaac's general wnw/nw motion. So, he will attempt to move into that direction, but the plains high is still strong and getting more dominant and lateral over the storm. If he comes inland and stalls, he could very well deteriorate there, somewhere over Houma or north of Morgan City. And, that's if the plains high does not deepen further southwards.

If the plains high deepens and strengthens (has been) and bridges towards the western side of the BA high, then we truly have a stalled system. It will take several hours to upwell and diminish strength over open water - probably 20 hours or more would be my guess. That's one scenario: inland or upwelling deterioration.

Here's the other: CALL ME CRAZY! ;P

He's over water. He has hardly any place to go inland. He'll either diminish or continue to look for an escape route. All storms want to go poleward, so he'll look for even the slightest weakness - this is all very slow, but not too slow to upwell and diminish. Westwards? TX? Could be. But, my thinking is that there'll be still enough of a hint of the weakness that will stop Isaac and the motion will move slowly back neastwards/eastwards, maybe even still over open water, traversing the coastline back east causing more pain and grief. Yes, you're right - that'd be certifiable, commitment-type thinking! ;P Probably won't happen, but those are the options, geeks, with a blocking high! :)

Plz don't laugh! ;)


And, plz remember, my original landfall spot was Mud Lake near Grand Chenier, LA. ;P
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Interesting how this entity was pestered by dry air for most of it's existence . I'm glad it hasn't gotten any stronger just before it hits the Gulf Coast , even though they're going through a rough time right now .
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Issac seems to be moving in southern direction away from the coast in the IR satellite. Recon also confirmed a SSW movement from the last two center fixes. Curious what the next center fix shows.
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Quoting HrDelta:


I know, just trying to figure that out. That would imply either his instrument, or the NHC are in error.


No update on the buoy page for Grand Isle since 9 pm CDT.
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Quoting HrDelta:


I know, just trying to figure that out. That would imply either his instrument, or the NHC are in error.


or since they were in the eyewall, they experienced a wind pocket with extreme gusts. Remember, during Andrew a HAM radio operator clocked a 212 mph gust and we all know Andrew had sustained winds of 165 mph. Actually back in 1992 when it came onshore it was rated at 145 mph and a decade later was upgraded to 165 mph based on data and damage reviews.
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
Mudfall


How about Masters instead of Jeff?
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Quoting SoonerTrojan:
Possible quasi-EWRC going on?

I don't think so this time around, but then again, I can't really be 100% sure with this storm.

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Quoting Stormchaser121:

Yeah. Even though its the truth.


You beat me to it. He has plenty of model evidence to show that... and of course this map below compliments of RTS from post 289. You can clearly see the High pressure moving east very fast which will push Isaac west.

Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 635
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


It's cheaper and shareholders dividends would be lower if they buried them. Can't have that.


Completely untrue (over 20 years in transmission and distribution). There are many reasons power lines are not undergrounded but I'll save that discussion for a more appropriate time.
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Quoting Diabellical:
walking out to Bayou St. John to get a picture.... will report back.

in NOLA, 70119 zip.

walking out at 22:32 local.
Orleans and Bayou St. John area.


Hope you survived that last gust. Mark Folse @ 3036 Fortin St. Going to get another hot cup of coffee. (Watch. Power will be out when I get back).

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Quoting txag91met:
Uh, this is going to farther west than what NHC thinks, that ridge is too strong over the Midwest. Why is NHC ignoring the NAM, and the GFS (18z)?


They aren't. But they think the high will back east and Isaac will round it moving nw,n,ne...etc. Doesn't exactly make sense to me either. But they're the experts. :)

SMOOTHING THROUGH THE WOBBLES DURING THE PAST FEW HOURS...THE LONGER
TERM MOTION ESTIMATE IS 310/7 KT. ISAAC IS EXPECTED TO MOVE SLOWLY
NORTHWESTWARD DURING THE NEXT 24 TO 36 HOURS AS A MID-LEVEL RIDGE TO
THE NORTHWEST OF THE CYCLONE SLIDES EASTWARD. AS THE RIDGE MOVES
ACROSS THE OHIO VALLEY AND INTO THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION...THIS
SHOULD CAUSE ISAAC TO TURN NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD AND NORTHWARD IN A
COUPLE OF DAYS. AFTER THAT TIME...THE CYCLONE IS EXPECTED TO TURN
NORTHEASTWARD AS IT ENTERS THE MID-LATITUDE WESTERLY FLOW. THE
GLOBAL MODEL GUIDANCE HAS BEEN SHIFTING WESTWARD DURING THE PAST
COUPLE OF RUNS...AND THE NHC FORECAST HAS BEEN ADJUSTED IN THAT
DIRECTION.


Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
I'm out...will wait for the howl to awaken me. All in Isaac's path be safe.
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Quoting BmtJedi:


NWS out of Lake Charles says we could get 30 MPH winds with gusts up to 45 in Southeast Texas. Up to 6" rain.

Barometer was falling in Nederland most of the day, but is now steady at 29.73.  We had sustained 25 mph with gust to 35 mph at 15:00 CDT, but winds have dropped to 10 mph for now.  Expect the wind and rain to pick up Wednesday as Isaac slowly closes in on the Golden Triangle.
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Looks like Isaac is taking a wobble SW again on radar. Seems to be determined to stay over water.
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Quoting slavicthunder:
Mayor of Grand Isle just said on WWLTV that they had a wind gust up to 120 mph. Can this be accurate?


Velocities are in the 90kt range on radar so, it's very possible. Hunters reported the top winds in the NW quadrant on the last surface run.

Also of note is that the area of yellow is getting much larger recently.



Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting slavicthunder:
Mayor of Grand Isle just said on WWLTV that they had a wind gust up to 120 mph. Can this be accurate?


it is cat2 now take cover
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Quoting SoonerTrojan:
Possible quasi-EWRC going on?


EWRC? East Washington Running Club?
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Thanks. I seen it much earlier just didn't know that was the actual center they were tracking. I thought it was an embedded vort and not an actual center as detailed by Dr. Masters. It was quickly absorbed after landfall IMO.

This is an image when I started watching.

Cool. Good spot in any case!
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Quoting reedzone:
David Camerdelle reporting winds of 100-120 mph. in gusts.


G7 46 dBZ 15,000 ft. 5 kg/m² 0% chance 0% chance 0.00 in. 84 knots ESE (102)

Radar finds a cell moving 97mph.
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Quoting weatherh98:
Power is now out for good.

See y'all later.

I'll try to get TAWX 13 to upload images for me.

Goodnight.

Stay safe!
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He said gusts probably 100 or 120...he didn't cite any official wind readings or anything but I wouldn't discount what he's saying until verified. He probably knows a little sum-sum about hurricanes.
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Quoting reedzone:
David Camerdelle reporting winds of 100-120 mph. in gusts.
good to see ya back reed after the troll attack this afternoon. cant let them get to ya. there were so many today i didnt make any comments earlier
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Quoting HoustonTxGal:


Careful, you will get accused of wishcasting.

Yeah. Even though its the truth.
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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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