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 AtHomeInTX:


Well a lot of people around here have probably missed it too. Local media didn't say a word. My mom saw it on the national news and called to ask me if it was true.

Unbelievable. It's going to be a couple of extremely wet days along the coast
Member Since: September 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3481
fyi,

Billy Nungesser was just on WDSU and stated that half of his homes roof had been ripped off and that water was pouring into his home. He also said that the walls of his brick home were "breathing" and he hadn't seen anything like that since Katrina...
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Quoting angiest:
Anyone see something that isn't quite right?

Photobucket


ok its been along day..I give up...
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Quoting hurricanehanna:

Ah - I put my glasses on and now I see it. That is odd!



The preview of the image what quite a bit bigger than what was really posted.
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Good evening all....Wow, I am sitting here in Central LA...(Alexandria) waiting on this thing to come through and come to find out it might be stalling???? Oh boy, this is not good...What does this mean for the rest of Louisiana???
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Quoting angiest:

There's a green dot in the middle of the eye. That dot is the location of a spotter on Spotter Network. Somehow, I don't think he is really there.

Ah - I put my glasses on and now I see it. That is odd!
Member Since: September 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3481
Quoting DavidHOUTX:
Isaac has moved .1 N and .4 west past 2 hours


Now that's what I call Slow
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Quoting Stormchaser121:

The models have been favoring this...4 consecutive runs. Now the NAM puts it over Sabine Pass.


Quoting Redbull77:
Trop storm warnings moved west to Sabine pass


I really don't like seeing this. I prefer to be on the west side, not the east, especially as it's about 12 miles from me. As long as it's just a model saying so...
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Quoting angiest:
Anyone see something that isn't quite right?

Photobucket


Well, it goes along with what accuweather was reporting... Snow...
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Isaac has moved .1 N and .4 west past 2 hours
Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 598
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...
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Quoting angiest:
Anyone see something that isn't quite right?

Photobucket
Eye within the eye starting to form??green dot
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Well a lot of people around here have probably missed it too. Local media didn't say a word. My mom saw it on the national news and called to ask me if it was true.
Yep the watches have definitely extended over into Texas.

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Quoting hurricanehanna:

Well I give up

There's a green dot in the middle of the eye. That dot is the location of a spotter on Spotter Network. Somehow, I don't think he is really there.
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Isaac's interaction close to land reminds me of Humberto...I went to bed at 11:00 P.M. to our local news and TWC saying it was going to just be a rain event. I woke at 3:00 A.M. to my windows rattling and hearing that familiar whistle from strong winds. I turned on the news just before power went out to an almost 100 mile an hour storm and it was on land....One of the fastest increase in strength on record...Now I know that Isaac is an entirely bigger storm, but I was only referring to the rapid intensification. Isaac and Humberto are no where close in other comparisons. I wish everyone in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida the best...Looks like it's gonna be a long couple of days...
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Quoting WxNerdVA:
Hope people have a good sense of humor tonight..

Floater up on Kirk:



Deflector shields up
Ready Phasers!


AWESOMENESS
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Looks like we are going to be riding the train over here in Mobile..It looks like a long stretch of rain and wind headed our way..
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Quoting WxNerdVA:
Hope people have a good sense of humor tonight..

Floater up on T.S. Kirk:


HAHAHAHA!!!!!!!
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Quoting hurricanehanna:

Well I give up
the little green dot in the eye?
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Quoting mcluvincane:
Isaac worse than Gustav ever thought of being


Gotta vote no on that one right now.
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Quoting angiest:


That's not what I was referring to.

Well I give up
Member Since: September 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3481
Quoting angiest:


Oh, I totally missed that that had been issued.


Well a lot of people around here have probably missed it too. Local media didn't say a word. My mom saw it on the national news and called to ask me if it was true.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 680
Quoting HoustonTxGal:


I was just looking at the same thing.


Link

The models have been favoring this...4 consecutive runs. Now the NAM puts it over Sabine Pass.
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Trop storm warnings moved west to Sabine pass
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Quoting WxNerdVA:
Hope people have a good sense of humor tonight..

Floater up on T.S. Kirk:



LMAO!!! He's giving it all he got!
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Eye appears to have closed off. The little peninsula created by the Mississippi river delta may have helped this by inducing greater convergence to nw (the open side). Isaac's heading also appears to be back near NW, as it has completed its cyclonic loop.


Looks like to me that he possibly has been going more west again the last few frames. It wouldn't surprise me if Isaac was in the process of another loop, nor would it surprise me if he kept doing them for a while until he gains a more definitive heading.
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Looking pretty respectable


HUGE IMAGE

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000
WTNT44 KNHC 290252
TCDAT4

HURRICANE ISAAC DISCUSSION NUMBER 32
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092012
1000 PM CDT TUE AUG 28 2012

ISAAC PASSED OVER THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA IN EXTREME SOUTHEAST
LOUISIANA AROUND 2345 UTC. SINCE THAT TIME...THE CENTER HAS
WOBBLED WESTWARD AND HAS MOVED BACK OVER WATER. A NORTHWESTWARD
MOTION HAS RECENTLY RESUMED AND A SECOND LANDFALL SHOULD OCCUR
LATER TONIGHT NEAR GRAND ISLE. DATA FROM NOAA AND AIR FORCE
RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT THE MINIMUM
PRESSURE HAS CONTINUED TO GRADUALLY FALL AND IS NOW 968 MB. THE AIR
FORCE RESERVE AIRCRAFT HAS MEASURED A PEAK 850-MB FLIGHT-LEVEL WIND
OF 96 KT AND BIAS-CORRECTED SFMR WINDS OF AROUND 65 KT. BASED ON
THESE DATA...THE INITIAL INTENSITY REMAINS 70 KT. LITTLE CHANGE IN
STRENGTH IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 12 HOURS OR SO AS THE CENTER
MOVES ACROSS THE BAYOUS OF SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA. STEADY
WEAKENING SHOULD COMMENCE LATER WEDNESDAY AS THE CENTER MOVES
FARTHER INLAND.

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.

BECAUSE OF THE SLOW MOTION OF ISAAC...A PROLONGED PERIOD OF STRONG
WINDS AND HEAVY RAINFALL ARE EXPECTED OVER A LARGE PORTION OF THE
NORTHERN GULF COAST. THE THREAT OF HEAVY RAINFALL AND FLOODING IS
ALSO EXPECTED TO SPREAD INLAND OVER THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY
REGION DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE TIDE GAUGES INDICATE THAT STORM SURGE HEIGHTS
OF 6 TO 10 FEET ARE OCCURRING ALONG PORTIONS OF THE COAST OF
SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI. GIVEN THE LONG DURATION
OF ONSHORE FLOW IN THESE AREAS...WATER LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN
HIGH FOR THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.


FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 29/0300Z 29.0N 89.7W 70 KT 80 MPH
12H 29/1200Z 29.6N 90.6W 65 KT 75 MPH...INLAND
24H 30/0000Z 30.3N 91.4W 55 KT 65 MPH...INLAND
36H 30/1200Z 31.5N 92.3W 35 KT 40 MPH...INLAND
48H 31/0000Z 33.2N 93.2W 25 KT 30 MPH...INLAND
72H 01/0000Z 37.0N 94.0W 20 KT 25 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
96H 02/0000Z 40.0N 91.5W 15 KT 15 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
120H 03/0000Z 41.5N 86.5W 15 KT 15 MPH...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW

$$
FORECASTER BROWN
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Quoting hurricanehanna:

The center is still over water...


That's not what I was referring to.
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Intensity for Isaac has leveled off, I doubt he intensifies anymore, the deal with this is going to be storm surge continuing with onshore winds and flooding inland that will likely lead to roof collapses and water into homes.
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Look how far it moves for 24-36 hours, tons of rain dumped and prolonged wind.
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Anyone heard from Grothar? I hope all is well at his house.
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134. jdr67
Quoting shfr173:
NOLA new pumping system capable of pumping 8000 gal a sec x 8 pumps!!! do the math


That's nearly 154 Million hogsheads per fortnight, impressive.
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still 80mph
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Hurricane ISAAC
...ISAAC PRODUCING A DANGEROUS STORM SURGE ALONG THE NORTHERN GULF COAST...FLOODING FROM RAINFALL TO FOLLOW...
10:00 PM CDT Tue Aug 28
Location: 29.0°N 89.7°W
Moving: NW at 8 mph
Min pressure: 968 mb
Max sustained: 80 mph
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Quoting canehater1:
Looks like more WNW motion now, could be radar loop
illusion...


I was just looking at the same thing.


Link
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Anyone see something that isn't quite right?

Photobucket
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OMG they show it at 6:00pm tomorrow night not too far from where it is now.. N.O. still getting pounded with rain at that time! Wowsa!
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Quoting mcmurray02:


Now, that's hilarious!


Here in Vermont we want to get us some of that 79F snowfall! ;-)
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DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
AT 1000 PM CDT...0300 UTC...THE EYE OF HURRICANE ISAAC WAS
LOCATED BY NOAA DOPPLER RADAR NEAR LATITUDE 29.0 NORTH...LONGITUDE
89.7 WEST. ISAAC IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 8 MPH...13
KM/H. A NORTHWESTWARD MOTION AT A SLIGHTLY SLOWER SPEED IS EXPECTED
OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. ON THE FORECAST TRACK...THE CENTER OF
HURRICANE ISAAC WILL CONTINUE MOVING NEAR OR OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN
COAST OF LOUISIANA TONIGHT...AND MOVE FARTHER INLAND OVER
SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 80 MPH...130 KM/H...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. ISAAC IS A CATEGORY ONE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST
TONIGHT. SLOW WEAKENING IS EXPECTED AFTER THAT.

HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 60 MILES...95 KM...FROM
THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 185
MILES...295 KM. TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE OCCURRING ALONG THE
COASTAL AREAS OF SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA...MISSISSIPPI...AND
ALABAMA. A SUSTAINED WIND OF 56 MPH WITH A GUST TO 69 MPH WAS
OBSERVED WITHIN THE PAST HOUR AT A NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE SITE AT
SHELL BEACH LOUISIANA. A WIND GUST TO 67 MPH WAS RECENTLY REPORTED
AT LAKEFRONT AIRPORT ON THE SOUTH SHORE OF LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN NEAR
NEW ORLEANS.

THE LATEST MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE REPORTED RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT
WAS 968 MB...28.59 INCHES.
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Quoting angiest:
Anyone see something that isn't quoite right?

Photobucket

The center is still over water...
Member Since: September 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3481
Another strong band headed for NOLA and surrounding areas. New advisory:
PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE NORTHWEST OR 310 DEGREES AT 7 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 968 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 70 KT WITH GUSTS TO 85 KT.
64 KT....... 50NE 50SE 0SW 0NW.
50 KT....... 80NE 70SE 50SW 50NW.
34 KT.......160NE 150SE 150SW 140NW.
12 FT SEAS..240NE 270SE 210SW 0NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL
MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 29.0N 89.7W AT 29/0300Z
AT 29/0000Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 29.0N 89.5W
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Quoting hurricanehanna:


aislin...is he on the island itself? I'm curious about the beach erosion. It was bad when I was there in July. I'm glad he is safe :)


No, the island was mandatory evacuation a day or two ago. He has a house there. I spent the last two weeks of July there.
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This should be the first test of Louisiana Expressway 1 to Grand Isle. Definitely there to help evacuations, but we'll see how well it handles a direct hit.
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Quoting angiest:


LOL, no. Obviously a glitch somewhere.



That station is at the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans...it is an AWOS station...which means it's an automated airport weather station...so when there is heavy precipitation it can misread what type of precipitation is falling.
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HURRICANE ISAAC FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 32
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092012
0300 UTC WED AUG 29 2012

CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY...

THE TROPICAL STORM WATCH FROM WEST OF CAMERON LOUISIANA TO SABINE
PASS TEXAS HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH A TROPICAL STORM WARNING.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT...

A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* EAST OF MORGAN CITY LOUISIANA TO THE MISSISSIPPI-ALABAMA BORDER...
INCLUDING METROPOLITAN NEW ORLEANS...LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN...AND LAKE
MAUREPAS

A HURRICANE WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* INTRACOASTAL CITY TO MORGAN CITY LOUISIANA

A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* THE MISSISSIPPI-ALABAMA BORDER TO DESTIN FLORIDA
* MORGAN CITY TO SABINE PASS TEXAS

A TROPICAL STORM WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR...
* EAST OF HIGH ISLAND TEXAS TO JUST WEST OF SABINE PASS

HURRICANE CENTER LOCATED NEAR 29.0N 89.7W AT 29/0300Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 15 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE NORTHWEST OR 310 DEGREES AT 7 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 968 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 70 KT WITH GUSTS TO 85 KT.
64 KT....... 50NE 50SE 0SW 0NW.
50 KT....... 80NE 70SE 50SW 50NW.
34 KT.......160NE 150SE 150SW 140NW.
12 FT SEAS..240NE 270SE 210SW 0NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL
MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 29.0N 89.7W AT 29/0300Z
AT 29/0000Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 29.0N 89.5W

FORECAST VALID 29/1200Z 29.6N 90.6W...INLAND
MAX WIND 65 KT...GUSTS 80 KT.
64 KT... 50NE 50SE 20SW 0NW.
50 KT... 80NE 70SE 50SW 50NW.
34 KT...150NE 150SE 150SW 120NW.

FORECAST VALID 30/0000Z 30.3N 91.4W...INLAND
MAX WIND 55 KT...GUSTS 65 KT.
50 KT... 30NE 60SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT...130NE 150SE 150SW 100NW.

FORECAST VALID 30/1200Z 31.5N 92.3W...INLAND
MAX WIND 35 KT...GUSTS 45 KT.
34 KT... 80NE 120SE 90SW 60NW.

FORECAST VALID 31/0000Z 33.2N 93.2W...INLAND
MAX WIND 25 KT...GUSTS 35 KT.

FORECAST VALID 01/0000Z 37.0N 94.0W...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
MAX WIND 20 KT...GUSTS 30 KT.

EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 175 NM
ON DAY 4 AND 225 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 20 KT EACH DAY

OUTLOOK VALID 02/0000Z 40.0N 91.5W...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
MAX WIND 15 KT...GUSTS 20 KT.

OUTLOOK VALID 03/0000Z 41.5N 86.5W...POST-TROP/REMNT LOW
MAX WIND 15 KT...GUSTS 20 KT.

REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 29.0N 89.7W

NEXT ADVISORY AT 29/0900Z

$$
FORECASTER BROWN
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Eye appears to be nearly closed off. The little peninsula created by the Mississippi river delta may have helped this by inducing greater convergence to the NE (the open side). Isaac's heading also appears to be back near NW, as it has completed its cyclonic loop.

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Looks like more WNW motion now, could be radar loop
illusion...
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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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