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 flcanes:

man
Give that blogger a gold star.
;)
Member Since: October 9, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 495
Quoting StormDrain:
Baha,
fwiw, one of the mets on TWC called um, what's its name...? um, Kirk, a "fish storm" this morning. Wish I could remember who at wu coined that phrase. May have been leftty or Bob/weatherguy03 or someone posting on their blogs back in 2005.
"fish storm" is a term we all know exactly what it is refering to... BUT, I don't think it is used by the pros at NHC or Dr. Masters
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586. JLPR2
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Fantasy land now:



Now that one looks "Georges like", but considering the time frame it'll be gone next run. ;)
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8506
Quoting BahaHurican:
Naw... the true mark will be when "fish storm" gets into one of NHC's discussions... lol

Baha,
fwiw, one of the mets on TWC called um, what's its name...? um, Kirk, a "fish storm" this morning. Wish I could remember who at wu coined that phrase. May have been leftty or Bob/weatherguy03 or someone posting on their blogs back in 2005.
Member Since: October 9, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 495
Quoting JLPR2:
The big picture.



Another one is getting ready to move into the Atl.
Models aren't picking up on that one..then again they weren't picking up on Kirk becoming a hurricane..
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Are you ready to write 1 million+ apology letters?.Lol.

No I'm not, I know someone in Louisiana who is without power and is in a flooded area. Where exactly idk since he doesn't live there.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Eye becoming increasingly better defined in Kirk.
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Quoting JLPR2:
The big picture.



Another one is getting ready to move into the Atl.


That's the "one" that I'm worried about
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Quoting StormDrain:
553. sar2401 10:47 PM GMT on August 30, 2012
Took me a while to get used to the idea that some of this lightning fast info is life-saving. Many emergency managers (and the NWS) now use facebook and twitter. Lots of good info came out that way during the 2011 Mississippi flood. Twitter wildfire info last year and this year was outstanding.

Let's hope poeple are smart enough to filter fact from fiction.

And yes - Me, myself and I follow Reed Timmer's tweets when he's tornado chasin'. Would be foolish not to when you live in tornado alley.
:)


There was a time, years back before he was known, that he used to post his forecasts fairly regularly along with his reasoning behind them. They were fascinating and generally more accurate than I could find elsewhere. I read them because I figured anyone who makes their living chasing tornados probably has a really good idea where tornados are going to be. And he did.

Been years since I have seen him do that.

I've never once seen his TV show and I don't know anything about the guy, but I just wanted to point that out.
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Quoting JLPR2:
The big picture.



Another one is getting ready to move into the Atl.
I hate this time of year
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Quoting mobal:


It took the EOC 8+ hours to get someone out here to assist them in getting fresh water.


Wow, since when is it the Govt. job to assist non prepared persons?


When they tell their citizens during a public news conference with the governor that if they need water, medical supplies, food, etc to call the EOC and they will get it to you quickly. Last I checked 8 hours wasn't the model definition of 'quickly'.
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Quoting sar2401:

?
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Quoting JLPR2:
The big picture.:P



Another one is getting ready to move in the Atl.

future michael
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Sorry, double post.
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Quoting wxchaser97:
Special update on Isaac, Kirk, Leslie. Check it out!
Are you ready to write 1 million+ apology letters?.Lol.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:


ok fixed are you happy now.

joke!...JOKE well its not funny.


Well, except for the spelling errors. :) Look, you can't expect to post some of the forecasts you have here without people having a little fun at your expense. Sorry if that offends you, but making forecasts two or three standard deviations away from the mean and then being wrong means you have to eat some crow. We all have to from time to time.
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572. JLPR2
The big picture.



Another one is getting ready to move into the Atl.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8506
Special update on Isaac, Kirk, Leslie. Check it out!
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Quoting stormpetrol:


Cool , I didn't think so either, but the center isn't at 14.4 IMO either ,I would say it is probably around 14N/45.5 under the deep convection, But I'll almost bet you'll disagree with this too.


I think its at 13.8N 45.5W one that area of deep convec.

anyway stormpetrol how are ya
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Quoting waterskiman:

I wouldn't beat on them to much. Most supplies are to last around 3 to 5 days Isaac passed very close to us in the Florida Keys on the weekend, being an unusally big storm it outreaches were sevre. The east coast got pounded. No one was expecting that from the track it took.
Us here in Palm Beach county wasn't expecting the feeder band break off would sit over us for 24 hours.. Many areas are still flooded . waterski........Which key?
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553. sar2401 10:47 PM GMT on August 30, 2012
Took me a while to get used to the idea that some of this lightning-fast info is life-saving. Many emergency managers (and the NWS) now use facebook and twitter. Lots of good info came out that way during the 2011 Mississippi flood. Twitter wildfire info last year and this year was outstanding.

Let's hope poeple are smart enough to filter fact from fiction.

And yes - Me, myself and I follow Reed Timmer's tweets when he's tornado chasin'. Would be foolish not to when you live in tornado alley.
:)
Member Since: October 9, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 495
Quoting stormpetrol:


Cool , I didn't think so either, but the center isn't at 14.4 IMO either ,I would say it is probably around 14N/45.5 under the deep convection, But I'll almost bet you'll disagree with this too.
I agree with your estimate and as far as I can tell it is still moving west.
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Quoting WxNerdVA:


Not sure what le microwave says...



This image shows the two outflow channels developing poleward and equatorward. Also indicates that the center is under the convection.
Member Since: August 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 42
565. mobal
Quoting padirescu:
We had close to 19" of rain here locally in Loxahatchee due to Isaac from Sunday night through Monday. Our county officials have massively failed thus far to provide sufficient information to residents who have been stranded in their homes since Sunday. Just today this article was published by our local newspaper.

Multi-Agency Crew Heads out to Help

It's been over 72 hours since the last rains from Isaac came through and the water level has only gone down a few inches some of which is likely attributed to evaporation. The lack of detailed information is really starting to frustrate residents who feel they've been abandoned. I have yet to see any 'multi-agency crew' stop by our area.

All we keep hearing on the news from the county and water management districts is "we're doing everything we can" and "we're here to help". My neighbor called the emergency operations center (EOC) yesterday because they had ran out of water. It took the EOC 8+ hours to get someone out here to assist them in getting fresh water. We all know that in crisis situations information is critical to avoid rumors, misinformation and overall anarchy. How about some coverage maps or updates on progress to pump out the flood waters? How about a coverage map on where these multi-agency crews are visiting so citizens know whether then can even expect someone to stop by?

It just amazes me that with today's technology our county officials can't keep people fully informed as to the progress of recovery.


It took the EOC 8+ hours to get someone out here to assist them in getting fresh water.
Wow, since when is it the Govt. job to assist non prepared persons?
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

It's a dry spot, the center isn't there.


Cool , I didn't think so either, but the center isn't at 14.4 IMO either ,I would say it is probably around 14N/45.5 under the deep convection, But I'll almost bet you'll disagree with this too.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7690
Quoting ltlurker:
(RE 524. padirescu
My neighbor called the emergency operations center (EOC) yesterday because they had ran out of water. It took the EOC 8 hours to get someone out here to assist them in getting fresh water.)

Rarely post... but 8 hours for fresh water, when one should have more that than that on hand, is not a bad situation.

I wouldn't beat on them to much. Most supplies are to last around 3 to 5 days Isaac passed very close to us in the Florida Keys on the weekend, being an unusally big storm it outreaches were sevre. The east coast got pounded. No one was expecting that from the track it took.
Member Since: June 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4429
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Not always. A negative NAO promotes a weaker, but farther south, area of high pressure between the United States and Bermuda. Many of the biggest hurricane strikes in history have occurred during a Negative NAO.


yup, seems like the A/B ridge goes almost non existent each run;

and EL NINO going LA NADA?....

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Don't worry TWA13.No one won't be attacking you :).
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Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:


Pretty near Roanoke. I will be in Blacksburg for the VT / GT football game and hoping to tailgate outside all day. I guess rain wouldn't be the worst thing to happen but damn I have some bad luck when it comes to weather every time I go to football games. Oh well, extra beer will have to make up for it. Thanks for the response, and sar2401 I hope you are right about it not being too heavy, if it arrives Saturday maybe it will clear up by Monday

true dat
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Quoting StormDrain:

Been puzzling over this since Wednesday morning. Been looking at maps of the new ACE walls and of the River delta to try and understand. Isaac's angle of approach probably contributed but exactly how did it happen? (rhetorical ?)

The Plaquemines flooding, and the flooding on north shore of L. Pontchartrain. Residents of both areas were quoted over and over saying nothing like this happened with K storm or Gustav. The two police officers who went out to check Plaquemines east bank levee early Wednesday morning and had to be rescued when the flood advanced so quick they could not get out and had to be rescued - maybe they can shed some light on it. And I hope it is looked at in the post-season analysis when NHC has time to take a closer look.


image credit NASA


image credit: NOLA Army Corps of Engineers

Lower right: See Braithwaite. Dark green line along River is new wall on west bank. Gray line the east levee.

man
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Quoting HarryMc:


Actually the latest GFS shows only moderate rain in southern VA mountains... assuming around the Roanoke area? Nothing major.


Pretty near Roanoke. I will be in Blacksburg for the VT / GT football game and hoping to tailgate outside all day. I guess rain wouldn't be the worst thing to happen but damn I have some bad luck when it comes to weather every time I go to football games. Oh well, extra beer will have to make up for it. Thanks for the response, and sar2401 I hope you are right about it not being too heavy, if it arrives Saturday maybe it will clear up by Monday
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Quoting sar2401:


Moved faster, weakened as it approached landfall, and didn't have as many effects outside Louisiana, at least for the CONUS.

Biggest difference is two things - Twitter and Facebook. We now share news, rumors, speculation, and gossip at the speed of light. You can count on any storm landfalling in the US to cause a ruckus in the future. I realize both also serve a good cause, but they also promote a "did you hear this..." mentality that's immediately picked up by the media, which means government agencies have to respond.

Another factor is the rise of independent bloggers, who repeat the Twitter and FB stuff as well as adding their own spin. They show up in Google searches like they are real news sites. It used to be that news agencies did fact checking before they released breaking news. Now, none of them want to be caught behind the power curve and have a blogger or someone on FB beat them to a story.

the trend started with bill in 2009
earl 2010
irene 2011
isaac 2012
2013?
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Quoting cajunkid:


Freshwater, sediment diversion from Mississippi River could build wetlands in Barataria Basin

Link

It works, (great I might add) but oyster fisheries are fighting it every step.

I believe, and some data might point to this after this hurricane season, the levees along the Mississippi River (south of New Orleans) made the surge funnel up into Plaquemines Parish.


Been puzzling over this since Wednesday morning. Been looking at maps of the new ACE walls and of the River delta to try and understand. Isaac's angle of approach probably contributed but exactly how did it happen? (rhetorical ?)

The Plaquemines flooding, and the flooding on north shore of L. Pontchartrain. Residents of both areas were quoted over and over saying nothing like this happened with K storm or Gustav. The two police officers who went out to check Plaquemines east bank levee early Wednesday morning and had to be rescued when the flood advanced so quick they could not get out and had to be rescued - maybe they can shed some light on it. And I hope it is looked at in the post-season analysis when NHC has time to take a closer look.


image credit NASA


image credit: NOLA Army Corps of Engineers

Lower right: See Braithwaite. Dark green line along River is new wall on west bank. Gray line the east levee.
Member Since: October 9, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 495
Quoting BahaHurican:
Naw... the true mark will be when "fish storm" gets into one of NHC's discussions... lol


just use jose lol
nhc, y u no start advisores? lol
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Quoting opal92nwf:
So can anyone explain to me why Gustav didn't create such a ruckus both in the media and New Orleans as Isaac has? I also don't remember Gustav causing as much flooding as in this situation even though it was stronger.


Moved faster, weakened as it approached landfall, and didn't have as many effects outside Louisiana, at least for the CONUS.

Biggest difference is two things - Twitter and Facebook. We now share news, rumors, speculation, and gossip at the speed of light. You can count on any storm landfalling in the US to cause a ruckus in the future. I realize both also serve a good cause, but they also promote a "did you hear this..." mentality that's immediately picked up by the media, which means government agencies have to respond.

Another factor is the rise of independent bloggers, who repeat the Twitter and FB stuff as well as adding their own spin. They show up in Google searches like they are real news sites. It used to be that news agencies did fact checking before they released breaking news. Now, none of them want to be caught behind the power curve and have a blogger or someone on FB beat them to a story.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Anybody remember two weeks ago when the GFS was showing a hurricane moving across the Central Atlantic?

That would be Leslie.

and is da storm gas is forecasting next michael?
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Quoting mitthbevnuruodo:


True


I want to see Dr Masters refer to one as a fish storm LOL
Naw... the true mark will be when "fish storm" gets into one of NHC's discussions... lol

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Quoting flcanes:

like isaac?
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Fantasy land now:

Those people in the islands need a break..
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Fantasy land now:


dat michael, nadine, oscar?
william lol
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Anybody remember two weeks ago when the GFS was showing a hurricane moving across the Central Atlantic?

That would be Leslie.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31519
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Not always. A negative NAO promotes a weaker, but farther south, area of high pressure between the United States and Bermuda. Many of the biggest hurricane strikes in history have occurred during a Negative NAO.

like isaac?
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Fantasy land now:

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Quoting CybrTeddy:
RAW T# for Leslie have shot up to 3.4.

RAW T# leveled off for Kirk with 5.0.
And will remain that way until it begins to develop more intense convective activity in the eyewall.

As for Leslie, an accurate intensity estimate at this time would be around 50kts; however, should current trends continue, it could make it to 55kts by the time the 11p.m advisory rolls on.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:


I knew you would like it would you like me to put it in a link and then you can save the image and keep it



by the way guys me offical forecast numbers changed to 17-18 Named storm 7-9 Hurricanes and 3-5 Majors
Not changing my numbers.... I'll eat crow if I have to. This is my first "real" forecast based on looking at the pre-season data, so I'll stick with it. I'm also laughing because people were looking at those of us with 15 or 16 NS at the beginning of the season as jokesters while they were forecasting 11 or 12.... now the few "way out there" pple with 18 may actually be the ones whose forecasts verify... lol

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The center of circulation for Leslie is under the deepest convection.
Member Since: August 4, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 42
Quoting stormpetrol:


Dry spot or eye forming at 13.8N/47W


Just weaker convection compared to the rest of the system. Not an eye or dry slot.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31519
Quoting stormpetrol:


Dry spot or eye forming at 13.8N/47W


It's a dry spot, the center isn't there.
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228 hours:

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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.