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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1538. LargoFl
Quoting fsumet:


You realize this is about a week old and was for Isaac, right? The ECWMF was way too far south with Isaac and never brought him out of the Caribbean. However, it ended up being closer to final landfall because of that.
as i said..it didnt have a date on it..but..its not saying isaac either
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Hours 96-114 Leslie just sits around out there.
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I know I'll probably get called a "westcaster" but that's ok :), but it sames like Leslie is moving more west than WNW.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7696
1535. fsumet
Quoting LargoFl:
if this track came true, mother nature has turned against us


You realize this is about a week old and was for Isaac, right? The ECWMF was way too far south with Isaac and never brought him out of the Caribbean. However, it ended up being closer to final landfall because of that.
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1534. ncstorm
102 hours for 12z GFS
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Like I said earlier it is very hard to argue with all the models. but Moonlightcowboy posted a surface analysis map a couple of days ago. Looking at it earlier this morning it showed a high directly above Leslie moving just as far west as Leslie and it seems that all the lower latitude storms this year have been attached to a monsoonal troughs as this one appears to be, to me. I think this has put a bias in the models that they are not catching, keeping the systems a little weaker thereby not getting pulled as far north as the models think.Just a crazy guess but this storm does seem to be on a teeter/totter to me.



hmm intresting.. now back to lurking..
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1532. LargoFl
Quoting 7544:


thats not for leslie i it ?
..it scared me too..too bad it doesnt have a date on it..grrr
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Come on people do stupid things everyday for a lot less money than Cantore is getting. You ever watch any X-treme games, people climbing Everest paying thousands to get killed, big wave surfer's NASCAR, let's face it people are crazy. If your a consenting adult hope you have a good time.
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Quoting sar2401:


Happy Birthday! I'm glad to see PR doesn't look like that today. :)


JAJAJA
THANK YOU!!!
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1529. LargoFl
..wow could Leslie be this close come saturday night?..waves nearing the islands
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1528. 7544
Quoting LargoFl:
if this track came true, mother nature has turned against us


thats not for leslie i it ?
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A VERY WET DAY FOR A BIRTH

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1526. kwgirl
Quoting sar2401:


Sure, as long as we don't mind increasing the flooding everywhere outside NOLA. Until we start looking at abandoning certain areas and using them for overflow retention basins, preventing flooding using levees and flood walls just increases flooding somewhere else. Even then, the highest flood wall will eventually get overtopped, as silt builds up and the land continues to sink. Not that I have any faith this will ever happen, but we have to look at oter possibilities than continuing to build higher walls in areas that will eventually flood no matter what we do with our present plans.
So when will FEMA and the "powers that be" start refusing to allow people to rebuild in the flooded areas? At one point the NFIP was going to purchase the land of anyone wiped out by storm surge on barrier islands. This has not happened, to my knowledge, but I think it should. I think we have to start relocating towns to higher ground, rather than trying to tame the waterways. I wonder when the day will come, what type of horrific disaster has to occur before the government starts forcing relocation. People need to acknowledge the fact that the seas are rising and the chances of getting flooded are increasing. I guess Katrina was not enough. Maybe I will not see it in my lifetime, but I think down the road, there is going to be serious "Come to Jesus" talks about relocating cities in harms way. Maybe I should invest in some moutainous cheap land as a future investment for my grandchildren. Oh, that's right, 12-21-12 is coming :)
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
1525. VR46L
Quoting sar2401:


Yes, it appears that the Captain is doomed never to get promoted to Major. :)


LOL ;)

I agree with you !
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
1524. sar2401
Quoting lordhuracan01:
My birthday!!!


HURACAN DAVID 31 08 1979


Happy Birthday! I'm glad to see PR doesn't look like that today. :)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 13344
Quoting kwgirl:
Good morning all. It seems the blog has calmed down after the week long Isaac watch. On to other storms now. I am sure a lot of you caught the sight of Cantore standing in a hurricane blast of wind and rain on TWC from New Orleans. My first thought was the guy doesn't have the sense to get out of the rain. Then I thought about what he was trying to show the folks. So I think he is a poor role model. They could have sheltered and broadcast the wind driven rain to show how hard it was blowing. What would have been "real" entertainment was if a piece of siding or roof had hit him and caused serious damage. It has been said that people have been decapitated from flying debris. I wonder how much of his endangering himself is studio execs or his own decision. Maybe both. Neither are too bright. I guess that's show biz.


Trust me thats all Cantore... I mean, he was doing push ups in the middle of Canal street in a Hurricane! Hes a tool.
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1522. LargoFl
Quoting LargoFl:
is this model any good?
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1521. sar2401
Quoting VR46L:
Captain Kirk is sure losing his good looks


Not that one !!!! This Kirk



Yes, it appears that the Captain is doomed never to get promoted to Major. :)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 13344
1520. LargoFl
Quoting LargoFl:
only model i found that has This track
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Quoting Skyepony:
Model verification on Isaac~ not the easiest storm with the best 24hr averages being in the 40nm range.. Best models began with the letter G & T (been the trend this season). Fim models did good. APS models outshined them all out to 48hrs, but I expect partly because they didn't run it earlier in the storm when Isaac wasn't as well developed. Overall OFCL was right up there with the best models.


Thanks Skye! That's really interesting! I'm guessing statistics like this let us identify which models work best and to know when they've improved to the point that we may be able to shrink the cone a bit.

I don't see the REED or DOOM models though. I think the Reed model is almost 100% accurate. ;)

Fortunately, the DOOM model almost never pans out, but when it does...
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1518. LargoFl
if this track came true, mother nature has turned against us
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12Z GFS has Leslie Below 20N at 60W
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Like I said earlier it is very hard to argue with all the models. but Moonlightcowboy posted a surface analysis map a couple of days ago. Looking at it earlier this morning it showed a high directly above Leslie moving just as far west as Leslie and it seems that all the lower latitude storms this year have been attached to a monsoonal troughs as this one appears to be, to me. I think this has put a bias in the models that they are not catching, keeping the systems a little weaker thereby not getting pulled as far north as the models think.Just a crazy guess but this storm does seem to be on a teeter/totter to me.
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Quoting sar2401:


Sure, as long as we don't mind increasing the flooding everywhere outside NOLA. Until we start looking at abandoning certain areas and using them for overflow retention basins, preventing flooding using levees and flood walls just increases flooding somewhere else. Even then, the highest flood wall will eventually get overtopped, as silt builds up and the land continues to sink. Not that I have any faith this will ever happen, but we have to look at oter possibilities than continuing to build higher walls in areas that will eventually flood no matter what we do with our present plans.
Also levees actually make the river bed higher becuase the river during floods deposits the sendiment on its own riverbed, so in places like China where they had dikes and levees for 1,000s of years, the river BED is higher than villages.
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My birthday!!!


HURACAN DAVID 31 08 1979
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1513. wxmod
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Per CNN article, Isaac damages in insured losses is now expected to be up to 2 billion dollars.
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I've said it before... I'll say it again...

KAAAHHHNNNN!
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1510. sar2401
Quoting LargoFl:
it would be a good idea for NOLA to build one that high no?


Sure, as long as we don't mind increasing the flooding everywhere outside NOLA. Until we start looking at abandoning certain areas and using them for overflow retention basins, preventing flooding using levees and flood walls just increases flooding somewhere else. Even then, the highest flood wall will eventually get overtopped, as silt builds up and the land continues to sink. Not that I have any faith this will ever happen, but we have to look at oter possibilities than continuing to build higher walls in areas that will eventually flood no matter what we do with our present plans.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 13344
Interesting change in the curvature. Recurving after Kirk? All times in GMT
Using the 6am ATCF report, a straightline projection of TS.Leslie's heading led to it passing 13.5miles(21.6kilometres)North of Anegada.
HOWEVER, using NHC_ATCF data for TropicalStormLeslie derived from the 31Aug.12pm report
31Aug.06am's 14.9n47.1w has been re-evaluated&altered
31Aug.12pm's 15.1n47.1w-15.9n48.4w are now the most recent positions
So now after correction of the previous vector and straightline projection
31Aug.06am: TS.Leslie had been headed toward passage 176miles(283kilometres)NNEast of Anegada (free-floating dot above NGD-Anegada)
31Aug.12am: TS.Leslie was heading toward passage 351miles(565kilometres)NNEast of Anegada


The easternmost dot on the connected lines is where Invest98L became TropicalDepressionTwelve.
The next dot to the left is where TD.12 became TropicalStormLeslie
The westernmost dot on the connected lines is TS.Leslie's most recently reported position

Copy&paste ngd, bgi, 13.6n40.8w-13.8n42.6w, 13.8n42.6w-14.2n44.5w, 14.2n44.5w-14.5n45.7w, 14.5n45.7w-15.1n47.1w, 14.5n45.7w-21.178n63.479w, 18.749n64.332w-21.178n63.479w, 15.1n47.1w-15.9n48.4w, 15.1n47.1w-23.289n61.841w, 18.749n64.332w-23.289n61.841w into the GreatCircleMapper for a larger map and other information
The previous mapping for comparison
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1508. LargoFl
Quoting Methurricanes:
it would be next to impossible because NOLA is surronded by water, the Providence barrier is only 3,200 ft. long, and then it runs into bluffs.
yeah its kinda impossible to stop the surge there, hell of a place to build a large city, then again we did it all over the map..right on all the coastlines..
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1507. VR46L
Captain Kirk is sure losing his good looks


Not that one !!!! This Kirk

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
Quoting LargoFl:
it would be a good idea for NOLA to build one that high no?
it would be next to impossible because NOLA is surronded by water, the Providence barrier is only 3,200 ft. long, and then it runs into bluffs.
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Quoting Brock31:


I am trying to temper my expectations. So much can change this far in advance.

Its definitely a conunundrum being a surfer during hurricane season. The whole time I'm saying to the storms:

"come closer.....closer...little closer....OK thats close enough......whoops too close....RUN!!"

What part of PR are you in?


south
south/center
we never get waves in this area, i live 5min from the beach and its 99% flat
then, during isaac and ernesto it just awakened and i had an epic 4 peak reef right hander appear :) :) :) no one out.
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1504. LargoFl
Quoting JasonRE:
Amazing. When Isaac was in full swing, this blog would have been up to page 90 already.
one must remember,lots without power still..and, its a work day..wonder how it will be tomorrow
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1503. DVSmith
Quoting ncstorm:




The run that makes the beeline for London is interesting… as is the one that makes landfall at Morehead City, but at this point, anything past 96 hours is a WAG.

If the Mid-Atlantic Ridge doesn't keep her on a WNW course, though, New England and the Maritimes should start paying attention, in advance of next weekend (with the three-day weekend, it's one less day for most people to begin paying attention and preparing).
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1502. LargoFl
Quoting sar2401:


GFS probabilities at 10 days = about the chance of flipping heads 10 times in a row. Is there some reason why we all seem to like torturing ourselves with models like this?
yes way too long in time i know, week or so ago gfs had this storm going into NOLA
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1501. sar2401
Quoting weatherman12345:
so 1 in 512 chance


Correct, or, to put it another way, about .002%. Pretty small number to hang your hat on.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 13344
1499. LargoFl
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
how you folks doing down there?..still flooding? or is it getting better now?
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1498. LargoFl
Quoting Methurricanes:
They built a 25 foot storm suge barrier, although so far, it has only taken a 12 foot surge.
it would be a good idea for NOLA to build one that high no?
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1497. kwgirl
Good morning all. It seems the blog has calmed down after the week long Isaac watch. On to other storms now. I am sure a lot of you caught the sight of Cantore standing in a hurricane blast of wind and rain on TWC from New Orleans. My first thought was the guy doesn't have the sense to get out of the rain. Then I thought about what he was trying to show the folks. So I think he is a poor role model. They could have sheltered and broadcast the wind driven rain to show how hard it was blowing. What would have been "real" entertainment was if a piece of siding or roof had hit him and caused serious damage. It has been said that people have been decapitated from flying debris. I wonder how much of his endangering himself is studio execs or his own decision. Maybe both. Neither are too bright. I guess that's show biz.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
I agree, Models at 240 hours are like pre-season football. Might be fun to watch but it doesn't mean anything.

I don't trust anything outside of 5 days and even that is iffy.
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1495. LargoFl
Quoting gordydunnot:

I'm going with the center at 15n 51w
sure looks like its going to the islands huh, what if its too far south to get caught by that front?
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Quoting ncstorm:


If I had to pick a storm today based on the latest operational runs of the GFS and Euro,it would be an earl type situation..however, NC was on early model runs for Isaac as well as Bermuda and well that ended up in the GOM..I dont trust the models this far out yet..


If I had to guess this far out (glad I don't lol cause it's almost as good as flipping coins) I would say anywhere from an Isabel or a shifted eastward Dennis(1999) track to an Earl track. Right now a Jeanne or Andrew track seems outlier but so does a total recurve.
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I'm going with the center at 15n 51w
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1492. Brock31
Quoting serialteg:


I AM STOKED ---- PR to receive swell from sunday to week auuuuushhh


I am trying to temper my expectations. So much can change this far in advance.

Its definitely a conunundrum being a surfer during hurricane season. The whole time I'm saying to the storms:

"come closer.....closer...little closer....OK thats close enough......whoops too close....RUN!!"

What part of PR are you in?
Member Since: August 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 122
1491. sar2401
Quoting dartboardmodel:
So when do you think they should/could issue watches for the northern islands??? I'm thinking Saturday morning. Just a hunch because I think the models are off.


There's not one model - not even one - that takes Leslie close to any islands. Why would you think ANY warning should be issued, especially in less than 24 hours? It's a hunch, based on every single model being off? Until, and unless, the models change and Leslie actually becomes a threat, there will be no warnings issued. The NHC doesn't issue warnings based on a hunch.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 13344
Quoting lobdelse81:

This would be bad news for Providence and the Narragansett Bay area. We all know what the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 did there.
They built a 25 foot storm suge barrier, although so far, it has only taken a 12 foot surge.
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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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