Isaac slamming Gulf Coast with damaging floods, tornadoes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:44 PM GMT on August 30, 2012

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Slow-moving Tropical Storm Isaac continues to hammer coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida's Panhandle with tornadoes, torrential rains, high winds, and a damaging storm surge. Over the past 24 hours, destructive tornadoes have touched down in Biloxi and Pascagoula, Mississippi, and one person was killed by a tree falling on a car in Pearl River County, Mississippi. A major flood event is occurring in Slidell, Louisiana, where Isaac's storm surge filled Bayou Bonfouca and the W-14 Canal, inundating portions of the city with 1 - 5 feet of water. While Isaac is now a weakening minimal-strength tropical storm, it is still a potent rainmaker, and will cause damaging floods all along its path for the next three days. Major river flooding is occurring or is about to occur on a number of rivers in the landfall area. In north central Tangipahoa Parish in southeast Louisiana and southwestern Pike County in southern Mississippi, a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for all low-lying areas and along the Tangipahoa River, due to the potential failure of the Lake Tangipahoa dam. Audubon Park in New Orleans, recorded 11.19" of rain as of 7 pm Wednesday night. An earlier amount of 19" was found to be erroneous, and this is not a 24-hour precipitation record for the city. According to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, New Orleans' greatest 24-hour rainfall on record is 14.01" on July 24 - 25, 1933. The Louisiana official state 24-hour record is 22.00" on Aug. 29, 1962 at Hakberry, although U.S. Army Corps of Engineers `Storm Studies' mentions a 23.80" falling in a 24-hour period at Millers Island during a TS on Aug 7-8, 1940. Storm total was 37.50" over a 60-hour period there during that event.

A few other rainfall totals from Isaac, through 11 am EDT on Thursday:

15.02" Marion, MS
10.09" Hattiesburg, MS
10.15" Gulfport, MS
9.80" Slidell, LA
9.74" Biloxi, MS
8.52" Mobile, AL
5.57" Baton Rouge, LA


Figure 1. Isaac's winds and storm surge overcomes the seawall and floods South Beach Boulevard in Waveland, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis). Waveland experienced a storm surge in excess of 5' for 36 hours.

Isaac's storm surge winds down
Storm surge levels along the coast of Mississippi and surrounding areas are gradually receding, and the surge has finally fallen below 5' at Waveland, which experienced a storm surge in excess of 5' for 36 hours. Isaac's storm surge levels were characteristic of a Category 2 hurricane, and lasted for an exceptionally long period of time. Waveland, Mississippi experienced a peak surge of 8' and peak storm tide of 9' (surge plus the natural high tide), which beat the levels that occurred during Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008 (7' of storm tide.) The peak 11.06' storm surge at Shell Beach, which is in Lake Borgne, 30 miles southeast of New Orleans, exceeded the 9.5' surge recorded there during Gustav. According to an article in nola.com, Isaac pushed a storm surge of 13.6' into Lake Borgne, on the east side of New Orleans. This is not far from the 15.5' storm surge Hurricane Katrina brought to the location. It is quite possible that Isaac's storm surge might have breached levees of the east side of New Orleans, flooding areas inhabited by tens of thousands of people, had the Army Corps of Engineers not completed their $14.5 billion upgrade to the New Orleans flood defenses this year. I estimate that storm surge damage from Isaac will exceed $2 billion. Isaac has likely caused $2.5 billion in insured damage not related to flooding, insurance firm Eqecat estimated yesterday. Here were some of the peak storm surge values that were recorded at NOAA tide gauges during Isaac:

11.1' Shell Beach, LA
8.0' Waveland, MS
3.5' Pensacola, FL
4.6' Pascagoula, MS
3.8' Mobile, AL


Figure 2. A TRMM satellite 3-D view of rainfall on Aug. 28 showed a few very powerful thunderstorms near Isaac's eye were reaching heights of almost 17 km (10.6 miles.) Intense bands of rain around Isaac were occasionally dropping rain at a rate of over 2.75 inches per hour. Image credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce.

Isaac's storm surge on the Mississippi River
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. Since salt water is more dense than fresh water, the surge travelled along the bottom of the river, with the fresh water flow of the river lying on top. The surge continued upriver, and before reaching New Orleans, encountered an underwater barrier in Plaquemines Parish. This barrier was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers beginning on August 15, in order to keep salt water from moving upstream and contaminating drinking water for Plaquemines Parish and New Orleans. Salt water had made it 90 miles upriver to the outskirts of New Orleans, due to the low flow rate of the river (which had dropped 7' below average in height due to the drought of 2012.) According to a spokesperson for the National Weather Service River Forecast Office, this barrier was probably able to completely block the flow of salt water upriver due to Isaac's storm surge, and no salt water made it as far as New Orleans. However, the massive intrusion of ocean water into the river channel caused the mighty Mississippi's fresh water flow to back up for hundreds of miles. Water levels were elevated by 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.

Hurricane Kirk in the Central Atlantic
Hurricane Kirk intensified into a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane this morning, becoming the busy 2012 Atlantic hurricane season's fifth hurricane. With the season's mid-point of September 10 still almost 2 weeks away, we've already had 12 named storms and 5 hurricanes, which is close to what an entire season experiences in an average year (11 named storms and 6 hurricanes.) Kirk should stay well out to sea and not trouble any land areas.


Figure 3. Morning satellite image of Hurricane Kirk.

Tropical Storm Leslie forms in the Central Atlantic
Tropical Storm Leslie has formed in the Central Atlantic. Leslie's formation on August 30 puts 2012 in 2nd place for earliest formation date of the season's 12th storm. Only 1995 had an earlier formation date of the season's 12th storm. With records dating back to 1851, this year is only the second time 8 total storms have formed in August. The other year was 2004, when the first storm of the season formed on August 1 (Alex), and the 8th storm (Hermine)
formed on August 29th. Leslie is organizing quickly, and appears destined to become a hurricane before the week is out. Fortunately, Hurricane Kirk is weakening the ridge of high pressure to the north of Leslie, and Leslie is expected to turn to the northwest and miss the Lesser Antilles Islands. In the long term, it remains unclear if Leslie will follow Kirk and fully recurve out to sea. The latest 2 runs of the GFS model have predicted that Leslie will recurve out to sea and not threaten any land areas, but the latest 2 runs of the ECMWF model have predicted that the trough of low pressure pulling Kirk to the northeast will not be strong enough to recurve Leslie out to sea. Instead, the ECMWF predicts that a ridge of high pressure will build in early next week, forcing Leslie more to the northwest, making the storm a potential threat to Bermuda, then to the Northeast U.S. and Canada in 8 - 11 days.

Jeff Masters

Hurricane Isaac Louisiana (apphotos)
Two men walk in the storm surge from Isaac, on Lakeshore Drive along Lake Pontchartrain, as the storm approaches landfall, in New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Hurricane Isaac Louisiana
west palm beach flood isaac (alishu)
West Palm Beach flood from Isaac
west palm beach flood isaac
Hurricane Isaac Impacts Navarre Beach & Pier10 (jennjeff1)
Hurricane Isaac versus Navarre Beach Pier, the longest concrete pier on the Gulf of Mexico
Hurricane Isaac Impacts Navarre Beach & Pier10

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Quoting yqt1001:


Newfoundland has a population of 100,000. How can you compare Igor to storms that affected nearly everyone in the Gulf coast? Igor wiped out kilometers of the Trans Canada highway, shutting down all travel to communities for days. The communities might've only been fishing villages, not cities of 5 million people, but that doesn't make much of a difference to local governments.

Igor and Juan are still referenced as storms to remember in Canadian media. Way more frequently than Katrina or Andrew.


Hurricanes do damage. That's the fact.

Should we retire every hurricane that makes landfall ever? Really, do answer me. The criteria you all present me make me think that this is what we are eventually headed towards.
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1087. Gearsts
Should be moving WNW by now.
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Quoting WWPR:
wxchaser97, I don't really like your track forecast for Leslie...lol in your opinion, what takes Leslie so much further west than the NHC track? by the way I agree with you.

Lol, you scared me for a second until I read the whole thing, thanks! With Leslie still moving west at the moment it will take longer to make the turn, which I still think will happen. Though it should quickly begin moving WNW which I have on there.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Quoting ScooterXX7:


Category 1...Perhaps less than $5 billion in damage? Three deaths?

Are we going to retire every hurricane that impacts a nearby metro area now? Should be reserved for the notorious, like Andrew, Katrina, Camille, etc.


Three deaths? So nothing that happens outside the US is relevant?
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1084. yqt1001
Quoting ScooterXX7:


That's an irrelevant illogical fallacy. $200 mil is not a significant number compared to any post-2000 hurricane, regardless of landfall. What if a subtropical hit Portugal and caused $50 mil in damage due to heavy rains, would we have to retire it because it was the "most significant" cyclone they'd have experienced?

It's silly how quick we are to retire hurricanes. Isaac and Igor are no Katrinas or Andrews.


Newfoundland has a population of 100,000. How can you compare Igor to storms that affected nearly everyone in the Gulf coast? Igor wiped out kilometers of the Trans Canada highway, shutting down all travel to communities for days. The communities might've only been fishing villages, not cities of 5 million people, but that doesn't make much of a difference to local governments.

Igor and Juan are still referenced as storms to remember in Canadian media. Way more frequently than Katrina or Andrew.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


That's an irrelevant illogical fallacy. $200 mil is not a significant number compared to any post-2000 hurricane, regardless of landfall. What if a subtropical hit Portugal and caused $50 mil in damage due to heavy rains, would we have to retire it because it was the "most significant" cyclone they'd have experienced?

It's silly how quick we are to retire hurricanes. Isaac and Igor are no Katrinas or Andrews.

Isaac was still a really bad storm with lots of damage and the hurricane scale didn't reflect Isaac's overall intensity well. Igor was a terrible storm for Newfoundland and they just didn't want to retire it.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
1082. WWPR
wxchaser97, I don't really like your track forecast for Leslie...lol in your opinion, what takes Leslie so much further west than the NHC track? by the way I agree with you.
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1081. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting pcola57:


I see the Bouys location and according to RSOE/EDIS I only see Volcano Pagan as suspect..but RSOE has changed their format since I last checked it out so my info may be dated Skye...


It's a bit farther south but the longitude is right..


Wunder what caused this crazy drop south of Indonesia.

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Quoting yqt1001:


You know, Igor was only the worst storm in Newfoundland history.

Sometimes breaking local records and causing lots of damage in a poor/unpopulated area gives enough cause for retirement.


That's an irrelevant illogical fallacy. $200 mil is not a significant number compared to any post-2000 hurricane, regardless of landfall. What if a subtropical hit Portugal and caused $50 mil in damage due to heavy rains, would we have to retire it because it was the "most significant" cyclone they'd have experienced?

It's silly how quick we are to retire hurricanes. Isaac and Igor are no Katrinas or Andrews.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


But thats how it should be. Igor didn't warrant retirement. $200 mil in damages? 1 death? Barely a scrape of a landfall? Really?

We might as well as run out of names by 2050 then.

Sometimes even if damage is high if that country didn't feel as if they wanted to retire the name it isn't.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
1078. yqt1001
Quoting ScooterXX7:


But thats how it should be. Igor didn't warrant retirement. $200 mil in damages? 1 death? Barely a scrape of a landfall? Really?

We might as well as run out of names by 2050 then.


You know, Igor was only the worst storm in Newfoundland history.

Sometimes breaking local records and causing lots of damage in a poor/unpopulated area gives enough cause for retirement.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Take that mindset and most hurricanes wouldn't be retired that should, only the Category 3+ hurricanes or the ones that cause 20 billion.

They're not going to forget Isaac next WMO, I'm betting retirement. Heck, they retired a tropical storm in 2001.


But thats how it should be. Igor didn't warrant retirement. $200 mil in damages? 1 death? Barely a scrape of a landfall? Really?

We might as well as run out of names by 2050 then.
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Both of these will be included in my blog.

Graphical outlook(new at this)


Graphical forecast(I've already been doing these)
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Anyone know the damage of Isaac until know?
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


Category 1...Perhaps less than $5 billion in damage? Three deaths?

Are we going to retire every hurricane that impacts a nearby metro area now? Should be reserved for the notorious, like Andrew, Katrina, Camille, etc.


Take that mindset and most hurricanes wouldn't be retired that should, only the Category 3+ hurricanes or the ones that cause 20 billion.

They're not going to forget Isaac next WMO, I'm betting retirement. Heck, they retired a tropical storm in 2001.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24021
Quoting ScooterXX7:


Should every storm that passes over Haiti warrant retirement?

The fact only 30 people died is miniscule compared to Jeanne or other cyclones.

The main driving factor if a System is retired or not is $$$$$$
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1072. Skyepony (Mod)
Using the most recent Dvorak coordinates Leslie's center in 60nm from this buoy..

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Quoting j2008:
Ummm did you forget that Isaac tried to rain Haiti off the map? Almost 30 people dead and unknown amount of damage there.


Should every storm that passes over Haiti warrant retirement?

The fact only 30 people died is miniscule compared to Jeanne or other cyclones.
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1070. pcola57
Quoting Skyepony:
Any constant earthquakes maybe around Japan for the last 2 days?


I see the Bouys location and according to RSOE/EDIS I only see Volcano Pagan as suspect..but RSOE has changed their format since I last checked it out so my info may be dated Skye...
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


Category 1...Perhaps less than $5 billion in damage? Three deaths?

Are we going to retire every hurricane that impacts a nearby metro area now? Should be reserved for the notorious, like Andrew, Katrina, Camille, etc.


I won't be surprised in the end of season analysis Isaac is upgraded to a Cat 2 hurricane. It could happen.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Joe Bastardi @BigJoeBastardi
NHC: Kirk 980 mb, 100 mph, free to do whatever they want to pump up numbers in the middle of nowhere. Isaac 966 80 mph BILLIONS IN DAMAGE

Joe Bastardi @BigJoeBastardi
Strongest storm of the year shocks people that werent expecting it because of the info given them, but 980 in middle of nowhere is 100 mph

Joe Bastardi @BigJoeBastardi
Sat estimates in middle of nowhere now better than recon into a plane finding actual low pressure, actual 95kt flt level winds.U c results



Good stuff
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Quoting stormpetrol:


Reading me wrong, I didn't suggest that! I only noted Bastardi as I follow him on Twitter and I according to his tweets I understand how he thinks!



Ohhh ok I gotcha, sorry about that.


I actually applaud Bastardi for not going along with the "crowd" so to speak. However, although he is a very smart individual, and doesn't have the typical mentality of getting pressured into large scale agendas, he get's out of balance by trying to hard to be unconventional.


For example, I'm glad that he doesn't just get on his knees and bow before the GW theory. However where he goes wrong is that instead of testing some aspects of GW, he tries to discredit that man has any influence at all, which makes him look ridiculous. He knows better, but I think he tries too hard to be the guy who solves things outside the box and throws away clear evidence regarding GW.

Either way, this blog does have obsessive trends of criticism and it's weird, Bastardi, and the TWC are among some of the greatest objects of criticism.

Alright, I'll admit Bastardi is not among my favored forecasters, and I do laugh at the body building photos posted in this blog, but having a little fun is different from constant criticism.

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Good night...

00z GFS 60 hrs.

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1064. j2008
Quoting ScooterXX7:


Category 1...Perhaps less than $5 billion in damage? Three deaths?

Are we going to retire every hurricane that impacts a nearby metro area now? Should be reserved for the notorious, like Andrew, Katrina, Camille, etc.
Ummm did you forget that Isaac tried to rain Haiti off the map? Almost 30 people dead and unknown amount of damage there.
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1063. Skyepony (Mod)
Any constant earthquakes maybe around Japan for the last 2 days?
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I have dubbed Isaac "Isaac the Inundator"
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

no doubt in my mind that it should


Category 1...Perhaps less than $5 billion in damage? Three deaths?

Are we going to retire every hurricane that impacts a nearby metro area now? Should be reserved for the notorious, like Andrew, Katrina, Camille, etc.
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1060. Skyepony (Mod)
They've got the buoy to help locate Leslie. Dvorak was a shade north of NHC at 11pm. Since that came out Dvorak shows a hard 0.26deg jog south to 14.72N 46.86W. Click pic for java loop.

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Quoting ScooterXX7:
Wait...you guys think Isaac should be retired? Really?

no doubt in my mind that it should
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12024
1058. yqt1001
Look at the incredible size of the CDO. Barely 1 degree across the entire CDO O_o

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1057. THL3
Sad, 2 fatalities in Plaquemines Parish.
Link
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Wait...you guys think Isaac should be retired? Really?
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Quoting Relix:
I don't agree at all with the NHCs position of Leslie. Nope.


I agree but just want to know from you where would you put it?
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12024
Joe Bastardi @BigJoeBastardi
NHC: Kirk 980 mb, 100 mph, free to do whatever they want to pump up numbers in the middle of nowhere. Isaac 966 80 mph BILLIONS IN DAMAGE

Joe Bastardi @BigJoeBastardi
Strongest storm of the year shocks people that werent expecting it because of the info given them, but 980 in middle of nowhere is 100 mph

Joe Bastardi @BigJoeBastardi
Sat estimates in middle of nowhere now better than recon into a plane finding actual low pressure, actual 95kt flt level winds.U c results
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:



lol....thanks by the way...I've been working hard on this to look good...


Great graphic.
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sorry for late post internet problems

Quoting stormpetrol:


i'm not saying a word!

I want to say it but I will just keep that in just for a few more days if I can hold it
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12024
Quoting Relix:
I don't agree at all with the NHCs position of Leslie. Nope.

So whete do you place it?
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
TROPICAL UPDATE
_____________________________




VERY ACTIVE TROPICS


Issac is post tropical therefore not included although its still on the NHC site updated by the HPC in Maryland



I like your graphics too.
Looks very professional.
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Seems like everyone is exhausted from Isaac.
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Quoting redwagon:

Cool retro graphics, all you need is a couple of Jolly Rogers here and there 'here be Pirates!', seriously, I really like the presentation. Good work.



lol....thanks by the way...I've been working hard on this to look good...
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
TROPICAL UPDATE
_____________________________




VERY ACTIVE TROPICS


Issac is post tropical therefore not included although its still on the NHC site updated by the HPC in Maryland


Cool retro graphics, all you need is a couple of Jolly Rogers here and there 'here be Pirates!', seriously, I really like the presentation. Good work.
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1046. JLPR2
Quoting Relix:
I don't agree at all with the NHCs position of Leslie. Nope.


Not completely sold either, but they are the experts. :P

We'll have to wait till tomorrow to see just how much of a north component Leslie gets.



12H 31/1200Z 15.5N 49.0W 55 KT 65 MPH

15.5n in 12hrs, lets see.
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384
SXUS74 KLIX 300723
RERLIX

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS
0222 AM CDT THU AUG 30 2012

...RECORD DAILY MAXIMUM RAINFALL SET AT NEW ORLEANS...

A RECORD RAINFALL OF 7.86 INCHES WAS SET AT NEW ORLEANS ARMSTRONG
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT YESTERDAY IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE LANDFALL OF
HURRICANE ISAAC. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 4.50 INCHES SET IN
2005 DURING THE LANDFALL OF HURRICANE KATRINA.

$$

98/SO
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"With the last remaining areas of D0 conditions removed this week, this is the first time since June 29, 2010, that no abnormally dry or drought conditions are being depicted in Florida."
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Quoting Relix:
I don't agree at all with the NHCs position of Leslie. Nope.


Thought you were done for the night.. Your Spidey sense giving the tingles yet on Leslie???
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TROPICAL UPDATE
_____________________________




VERY ACTIVE TROPICS


Issac is post tropical therefore not included although its still on the NHC site updated by the HPC in Maryland

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Interesting discussion on Leslie.. A whole lot of "Should do this" and then they leave it open at the end of 96 hours to the models start to diverge on to timing.

48 hours moving at 15 - 20 mph hour at a heading of 280 turning to 300 is gonna pretty darn close to the islands.

Have a hard time with the current track.
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Quoting beell:


With levees set back from the main line levees to "protect" the communities behind the east bank of the MR levees from storm tides from the SE and levees/dredge spoil on the west side of the MRGO.

A large funnel terminating at Braithwaite. Shell Beach and Delacroix were in the funnel as well.
OK. I can picture it. Oh man, Delacroix? That didn't dawn on me till now. For Delacroix, even though he didn't say it right.

Thanks. And good night.
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1039. Relix
I don't agree at all with the NHCs position of Leslie. Nope.
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Quoting 12george1:
Where is the HPC advisory on Isaac?

Never mind
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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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