Isaac pounding Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:01 PM GMT on August 29, 2012

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Hurricane Isaac continues to lumber slowly northwestwards at 6 mph, as it pounds Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida's Panhandle with torrential rains, high winds, and a damaging storm surge. The eye was partially over water for most of the 15 hours after Isaac's official landfall at 7:45 pm EDT Tuesday night, but New Orleans radar shows the eye of the storm is now fully ashore near Houma. The radar echoes show some weakening on the west side of the eyewall, where dry air has infiltrated the storm. Wind shear remains light, and upper level outflow over Isaac is as impressive as we've seen so far, with a strong outflow channel to the north, and a respectable one to the south, as well. Infrared and visible satellite loops show a very large, symmetric, and well organized storm, and Isaac is going to be able to stay near Category 1 hurricane strength all day today. This will allow Isaac to drop rainfall amounts of 15 - 20" in some areas of Louisiana before the storm is over. A few rainfall totals from Isaac through 11 am EDT:

9.26" New Orleans Lakefront Airport
5.59" Belle Chasse, LA
5.21" Mobile, AL
3.65" Hattiesburg, MS
3.42" Gulfport, MS
2.81" Biloxi, MS


Figure 1. Morning radar reflectivity image from New Orleans.

A dangerous storm surge event underway
Isaac is bringing a large and dangerous storm surge to the coast from Central Louisiana to the Panhandle of Florida. Late this morning was high tide along much of the coast, and the highest water levels of Isaac are likely being experienced at many locations. At 11:30 am EDT, here were some of the storm surge values being recorded at NOAA tide gauges:

8.0' Waveland, MS
8.2' Shell Beach, LA
2.0' Pensacola, FL
4.6' Pascagoula, MS
3.4' Mobile, AL

The peak 11.06' storm surge at 1:30 am EDT this morning at Shell Beach, which is in Lake Borgne, 20 miles southeast of New Orleans, exceeded the 9.5' surge recorded there during Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008. In general, the storm surge heights from Isaac have been more characteristic of a strong Category 2 hurricane, rather than the weak Category 1 hurricane one might suppose Isaac is, based on its top sustained winds of 75 - 80 mph. The Saffir-Simpson Scale for ranking hurricanes is only a crude measure of their potential impacts.

A storm surge estimated at 12' moved up the Mississippi in Plaquemines Parish near Port Sulphur, LA, near 8:30 pm EDT Tuesday, causing overtopping of the levees and flooding of homes in the mandatory evacuation areas behind the levees. These levees were not part of the $14.5 billion levee upgrade New Orleans got after Hurricane Katrina, and were not rated to Category 3 hurricane strength, like the levees protecting New Orleans are. The surge continued upriver, elevating the water levels 10' in New Orleans (103 miles upstream from the mouth of the Mississippi), 8' in Baton Rouge (228 miles upstream), and 1.4' at Knox Landing, an amazing 314 miles upstream. The river was 7' low due to the great 2012 U.S. drought, and I suspect the near-record low flow rate of the river allowed the storm surge to propagate so far upstream. The salt water from the storm surge will be slow to leave the river, due to the continued winds of Isaac keeping the surge going, plus the very low flow rates of the river. One benefit of the heavy rains of 10 - 20 inches expected to fall over Louisiana over the next two days will be to increase the flow rate of the Mississippi River, helping flush the salt water out of the river. The low flow rates of the Mississippi had allowed salt water to move upriver to just south of New Orleans over the past few weeks, threatening the drinking water supply of Plaquemines Parish.


Figure 2. Tide gauge data from Waveland, Mississippi. The green line shows the storm surge. The red line is the storm tide, the height of the water above Mean Sea Level (MSL.) The storm tide at Waveland currently (9') is 2' higher than that of Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.

Tropical Storm Kirk in the Central Atlantic
Tropical Storm Kirk formed Tuesday night in the Central Atlantic. Kirk's formation at 03 UTC on August 29 puts 2012 in 4th place for earliest formation date of the season's 11th storm. Only 2005, 1995, and 1933 had an earlier formation date of the season's 11th storm. Kirk should stay well out to sea and not trouble any land areas.


Figure 3. Morning satellite image of Tropical Storm Kirk.

Invest 98L in the Eastern Atlantic
A tropical wave (Invest 98L) is about 750 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, and is moving west to west-northwest at about 15 mph. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 98L a 50% chance of developing by Friday morning. Several of the models develop 98L into a tropical depression by this weekend, but none of the reliable models foresee that 98L will be a threat to the Lesser Antilles. The storm may be a threat to Bermuda next week, but it is too early to say if it may threaten the U.S.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Waltanater:
Last I heard it was 615,000.


CNN has that number around 673k.
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Quoting LargoFl:
Mayor Landrieu from New orleans just wrapped up a press conference on Isaac. Here are the highlights from tweets from WWL Radio.

- We recognize irony of Katrina anniversary. Memory of 1,836 family members lost in that storm directing our actions today

-President has committed complete and total support for City of New Orleans, is working closely with Jindal's team as well

- Thoughts and prayers to brothers and sisters in #Braithwaite.

- #NOLA still under flash flood and tornado watches. Storm surge 5 to 8 feet at the Lakefront

- Now is not the time for #NOLA residents to let their guard down. Be very very patient and remain inside & behind doors

- Reports that canals in New Orleans East are very close to overtopping are cause for great concern.

- Also concerned that diverging backup power to pumps could cause sewerage systems to back up or fail. Dont flush if you can help it

- Every officer from #NOPD is accounted for and has reported for duty. Natl Guard supplementing them in every district citywide

- Four suspects arrested for alleged looting, which carries mandatory sentence of 3 years at hard labor

- We are instituting a curfew beginning today from dusk till dawn until further notice #nola #isaac

- Continue to use 311 to alert us to non emergency issues. 75% of Orleans residents are without power

- NOFD is all hands on deck and has responded to 158 calls and 4 working fires, all in dwellings

- You are welcome to park on the neutral grounds, not levees. [Laughter]

- Once wind speeds dip below 30 MPH, responders (who are chomping at the bit) will hit the streets to work on power restoration
by Jennifer - The Storm Report 2:12 PM


Bull. Every officer has not reported for duty. Some can't because they are unable to get into NOLA, others simply won't, the same as what happened in Katrina. The National Guard is not there to "supplement" the NOPD, they are there to provide the law enforcement and citizen protection that NOPD is not capabale of doing. They are also there to keep an eye on the NOPD officers that are on duty. NOPD is the most poorly run and one of the most corrupt police agencies in the country.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 14337
Quoting RussianWinter:
BTW is 98L pretty much guaranteed to be a fish storm?


I don't remember 98L signing a contract to that fact...

Dr. Masters said it was too early to tell if it would be a threat to the U.S....

I am going with you can't tell yet...
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Quoting 4waters:


can you speak to the eye/not eye/collapsing/building question?


I'm not 100% clear on what you mean, but on Monday the storm tried a couple times to form an eye, but dry air which was pulled into the circulation caused the inner core to die out each time.

Also the easterly wind shear hurt as well, as it caused the storm's mid level circulation and low level circulation to struggle to become aligned.

The two factors are related though, and either one alone may not have had the same inhibiting effect.

As Isaac approached landfall yesterday, the storm become aligned vertically, making it more resistant to dry air, and allowing for significant deepening.
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Just FYI for anyone this may help, if you have medical insurance through United Healthcare and are having issues getting medicines (you have evacuated, your doctor's office flooded and is closed, etc.) you can call UHC on the number on your card or 866-633-2446. They are helping people affected by Isaac get alternate arrangements (and not get penalized for out of network, early refills, etc.) Don't know about other insurance providers but I would suspect (hope) they have similar programs.

I wouldn't have thought about this being a big deal but the last time my son went to visit his dad he ran out of a medicine and we couldn't get it refilled because he was out of state. I'd think it'd be even more complicated if you're evacuated for days (or Heaven forbid, weeks).
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I'm glad TWC finally showed some footage from Biloxi, MS. Hwy 90 near Casino Row is completely flooded. Water up to the front doors of the Hard Rock Casino.

Same area was completely inundated by Katrina, but then the casinos were literally picked up by the surge and moved elsewhere.
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Quoting southfla:



You may be able to answer a question I have. In Florida it is possible to receive discounts on the wind storm insurance premium, which is separate from the hazard premium, for wind mitigation measures --- e.g. hurricane shutters.

If a homeowner submits a claim for damage, but did not put up the shutters even though they were under a hurricane warning, how likely is it that the insurance company would deny the claim ?
Very
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Quoting floridaT:
and how do those folks in places like Idaho feel about never getting any of the money?


Good point. I would feel cheated. But then again, I am a state's rights kind of person myself. Actually, I feel like saying thank you to Idaho for giving me their dollars when we have an emergency. Remember, the fed gov is not big brother giving us money....it has no money itself...we give the money to the fed and then it gets doled out based on need. Should not feel like we have to beg, just state our case respectfully. 'nough said. I'm all done. Sorry and back to weather.
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Quoting xtremeweathertracker:


Oops sorry try it now!!!


Video Blog Update
Thumbs up! TY TY! :)
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That band coming up near Gulfport looks pretty brutal. Seems like it's migrating west at the moment, which at least may save Gulfport from absorbing all of it...



Radar estimated rainfall is in the 6-8" range just west of Gulfport:

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More storm surge pictures.







Got to be honest with you, this is the worst Category 1 hurricane I have ever seen in terms of storm surge damage. This and Irene.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23880
Quoting LuvsStorms:


I'm there now, wondering just how bad it will be for us.


It'll depend on the track. If it goes straight north, then 2 to 6 inches of rain and wind gust up to 50 mph they say for us. If it follows the Euro, it'll be alot more rain and winds.
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Denham Springs, La. here. about 10 miles due east of Baton Rouge. press conference about 30 minutes ago....they said the NWS is saying that very shortly we will begin experiencing combination tropical storm force/hurricane force winds and they will last until appx. 7 tomorrow morning. had a funnel cloud near our house early this morning. we still have power but has flickered since last night. heavy rain and near TS force winds, sustained now. wind started here yesterday morning with a breeze and we had TS gusts starting early last night. that is a lot of wind for a long time and saturated grounds. not a good mix with the trees. don't know which is worse....Gustav moving quickly through here, or this slow slow slow Isaac. gutters in subdivision were backed up very shortly after the rain started. never seen that here before, not even in Gustav. gonna be a long night.....
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Kirk's winds are up to 45 knots, and the pressure has dropped another two millibars:

AL, 11, 2012082918, , BEST, 0, 251N, 471W, 45, 1005, TS, 34, NEQ, 70, 40, 0, 50, 1014, 160, 60, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, KIRK, M,
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Weather station I'm using for wind/gusts:http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/fin dweather/getForecast?query=39560&sp=KMSLONGB8&MR=1
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Just watched StormJunkie run for cover when a very violent storm came through. Gotta admire his driving ability. Those were big winds and rain. Someone just told him that CNN is going to be streaming him. Very interesting.

Link
Member Since: July 30, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 617
A short blub on the science behind tornadoes in the NE quadrant of land falling hurricanes....This threat will continue from Issac as noted below:

Tornado watches are routinely issued for the Northeast quadrant of land-falling hurricanes. Part of the reason is the enhanced wind shear in this quadrant. In the Northern Hemisphere, the right side (relative to direction hurricane is moving) of the hurricane experiences winds coming from the ocean onto the land (due to counterclockwise flow). The wind has a smoother trajectory over the water since friction is less. As the winds on the right side of the hurricane move inland, the force of friction forces this air to turn inward toward low pressure, thus setting the stage for wind shear in the low levels of the troposphere. The wind in the mid-levels is not turned as sharply as the wind near the surface. The enhanced speed and directional wind shear in this quadrant of the hurricane spawns primarily short lived shallow based tornadoes. They can be difficult to spot on radar, therefore their occurrence is often without warning.

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Quoting samiam1234:
is anyone getting any rain from this in Texas?


I live in NW Houston in Jersey Village. It is a gorgeous sunny day, but with lots of gusty wind. Forecast has thunderstorms tomorrow.
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Developing cyclone in the Central Atlantic, 98L.


In case anyone was wondering, the next name on the list is Leslie. Looks like it could become a real long CV tracker.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23880
Quoting Dsntslp:


"Error!

There was a problem opening this user's Wunder Blog files. Please try again later or check the requested URL."


Oops sorry try it now!!!


Video Blog Update
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Quoting oddspeed:

One year ago Texas' worst wildfire since record keeping began hit Bastrop thanks in large part to the winds from Tropical Storm Lee who did about the same path as Isaac.


Yes exactly. I had just gotten back from vacation before being deployed to another to the North of Bastrop that weekend so the state was taxed. With the rains we've had earlier in the year I think conditions won't be nearly as dire but still staying on alert nonetheless.
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Only thing else I want to add to the discussion this afternoon is that I bet 98L and Kirk will struggle to intensify a bit more than the models currently indicate.

The subsidence associated after the passing of the convectively coupled kelvin wave heading over these two should dry their upper level environment more than the models indicate as they don't resolve these CCKW's very well.

I think to some degree this was one of the factors that hurt Issac from becoming better organized.

CCKW Loop
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GFS at 144 hours.............
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Quoting RitaEvac:
We can see the cloud shield well outside looking east here in the Houston/Galveston area. Wind advisory in effect till 8PM and winds are brisk when out to lunch, reminiscent of a cold front but with heat and drier air



Breezy here near Port Arthur also.....praying for our Louisiana neighbors!
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Quoting aislinnpaps:


Yes, from out by Vernon Lake


I'm there now, wondering just how bad it will be for us.
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Quoting Masquer08er:
Since Isaac's slight move N, the northern part of Mobile County and now Clarke County is catching some significant rain. This morning only the lower half was getting anything worth noting. I was hoping we were done with it. School starts back tomorrow,


Looks like another rainband has formed over the eastern Panhandle, southwest Georgia, and southeast Alabama, towards the Dothan area. Isaac's circulation appears to be picking up a fetch of Gulf moisture and is setting up a training storm situation. The bulk shear in the area is high enough that tornadoes are a threat from these storms.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 14337
Quoting samiam1234:
is anyone getting any rain from this in Texas?


Clear, breezy, and drier air here just southwest of Houston today.
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BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOBILE AL
127 PM CDT WED AUG 29 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOBILE HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
STONE COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST MISSISSIPPI...

* UNTIL 215 PM CDT

* AT 123 PM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED 11 MILES NORTH OF GULFPORT...OR 3 MILES
NORTHEAST OF LYMAN...MOVING NORTHWEST AT 45 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
WIGGINS... PERKINSTON... MCHENRY...
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You know its bad when even the gator's are evacuating...
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Mayor Landrieu from New orleans just wrapped up a press conference on Isaac. Here are the highlights from tweets from WWL Radio.

- We recognize irony of Katrina anniversary. Memory of 1,836 family members lost in that storm directing our actions today

-President has committed complete and total support for City of New Orleans, is working closely with Jindal's team as well

- Thoughts and prayers to brothers and sisters in #Braithwaite.

- #NOLA still under flash flood and tornado watches. Storm surge 5 to 8 feet at the Lakefront

- Now is not the time for #NOLA residents to let their guard down. Be very very patient and remain inside & behind doors

- Reports that canals in New Orleans East are very close to overtopping are cause for great concern.

- Also concerned that diverging backup power to pumps could cause sewerage systems to back up or fail. Dont flush if you can help it

- Every officer from #NOPD is accounted for and has reported for duty. Natl Guard supplementing them in every district citywide

- Four suspects arrested for alleged looting, which carries mandatory sentence of 3 years at hard labor

- We are instituting a curfew beginning today from dusk till dawn until further notice #nola #isaac

- Continue to use 311 to alert us to non emergency issues. 75% of Orleans residents are without power

- NOFD is all hands on deck and has responded to 158 calls and 4 working fires, all in dwellings

- You are welcome to park on the neutral grounds, not levees. [Laughter]

- Once wind speeds dip below 30 MPH, responders (who are chomping at the bit) will hit the streets to work on power restoration
by Jennifer - The Storm Report 2:12 PM
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Quoting samiam1234:
is anyone getting any rain from this in Texas?


35 miles south of San Antonio...sunny skies and a high of 99...wind advisory for later this PM
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Something I found out about last year and, as a 27yr Navy Spouse, did not know: NOAA is its own stand-alone Uniformed Service. There are 7 uniformed services in the US: US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard, US Air Force, US Army, the US Public Health Corps and NOAA.
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Quoting LuvsStorms:


You come into Leesville??


Yes, from out by Vernon Lake
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Quoting LargoFl:
inside hurricane hunter aircraft......gee


Looks very simple. :P

So many thanks to those folks.
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Quoting calkevin77:


We're starting to see the winds pick up out of the NNE here north of Austin as well. Definitely keeping an eye on elevated fire conditions today and tomorrow. Thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors in Louisiana right now and will be ready to assist wherever possible.

One year ago Texas' worst wildfire since record keeping began hit Bastrop thanks in large part to the winds from Tropical Storm Lee who did about the same path as Isaac.
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inside hurricane hunter aircraft......gee
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
School here is cancelled for tomorrow, Vernon Parish.
Mobile closed on Monday (beautiful) and plans to start back tomorrow. SMH
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some people who should be thanked..............
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Quoting tennisgirl08:


Getting LOTS of rain and wind gusts in Mobile, Al.
Worse than yesterday. It's shocking, really, that he is still a hurricane.


Thanks for the report. His generally parallel course to the Gulf this morning is not helping but it looks like he is finally taking that NW jog away from the Coast.
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Just got back from a doctor's appt this morning. It was sunny and windy here at home, but as I drove into town, more east, it was dark and windier, with spits of rain. I'm about 10 miles as the crow flies from the Texas border about halfway up. We're now at 20 mph wind with 36 mph gusts. Fort Polk parked some humvees at the police station in town. Fort Polk probably collaborating with town in case we lose electric here. We're obviously on the west side of the storm unless it takes one of those westerly tracks, which I don't think it will. Worst we'll get is flooding (under a watch and with the geography here we get flooding anytime we get alot of rain) and possible loss of electric.


You come into Leesville??
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is anyone getting any rain from this in Texas?
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Quoting osuwxguynew:
Good Afternoon Everyone!


The impacts of a weakening versus a strengthening storm is signficant. Isaac finally got vertically stacked, and the anti-cyclone moved overtop him making for a very favorable outflow regime.

This allowed the storm to continue to intensify despite land interaction, and brought legitimate category 1 sustained winds over a fairly good swath of far southeast LA.

Obvious the duration of the event is signficant is the damage it causes as well. We all have to be glad that there was just enough of an easterly shear from the anti-cyclone taking off to the north as the storm left Florida, otherwise we would probably have had a category 3 storm sitting in the same spot as Isaac is now moving just as slow...



can you speak to the eye/not eye/collapsing/building question?
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the Stafford Act - It's important

From FEMA -

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (referred to as the Stafford Act - 42 U.S.C. 5721 et seq.) authorizes the President to issue “major disaster” or “emergency”
declarations before or after catastrophes occur. Emergency declarations trigger aid that protects
property, public health, and safety and lessens or averts the threat of an incident becoming a
catastrophic event. A major disaster declaration, issued after catastrophes occur, constitutes
broader authority for federal agencies to provide supplemental assistance to help state and local
governments, families and individuals, and certain nonprofit organizations recover from the
incident.

The disaster declaration procedure is foremost a process that preserves the discretion of the
governor to request assistance and the President to decide to grant, or not to grant, supplemental
help.
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349. Skyepony (Mod)
Radar estimated storm totals.
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the euro is running

24 hours


48 hours
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Quoting reef58:
There were some fairly high reports, but the common denominator is they were well above the standard height of 10 meters.

If you get real Cat 1 winds that is a strong storm. I think that should be emphasized.



That's a good point. A lot of people get caught up on categories, but they don't get the maximum sustained winds we advertise. The overwhelming majority people who experience a 115 mph hurricane, for example, don't see sustained winds even close to that.

So they extrapolate their experience for future hurricanes. Well, the weather man said I was getting 115 mph winds but the eye came real close and we never got anything over 50. So if the weatherman tells us we're getting an 80 mph storm, well heck, we'll be lucky if we get tropical storm force gusts. Then they actually get winds close to the maximum because the wind field is structured differently, and they're shocked.

And while CybrTeddy's right about the antiquated SSHS, coming up with a replacement is going to be hard to sell. Basically, you'd have to come up with a number for all of the forecast points to accurately describe the potential impact. And it's a lot easier for people to digest "Category 3 hurricane on the SSHS" than "it'll be a 5 out of 10 in Mobile, an 8 out of 10 around the Big Bend of Florida because of heightened storm surge, a 6 out of 10 in this other town because they'll be in the eyewall and have the highest winds but the coast outline makes it harder to build a large surge, etc..."

The people throwing a temper tantrum because the NHC refused to indulge their fetish for intensifying hurricanes is laughable and sad at the same time. Like an Owen Wilson movie. Except for the part about laughing. As has been posted repeatedly, the NHC is stacked to the gills with talented meteorologists using the best equipment and with more collective experience than we can imagine. Their job is to create a responsible forecast, not the worst-case or most media-friendly. Hurricane forecasting is an inaccurate science even in the best of conditions, but I don't care what odds you lay, when it comes to the NHC and a gaggle of anonymous commenters on a blog, the smart money moves heavy to Coral Gables.
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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.