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A reprint of my comment on Isaac

By: AstroHurricane001, 11:15 PM GMT on August 26, 2012

I don't usually reprint my comments, but I thought this storm might be important enough to need this extra announcement. It will help me to be more organized if and when I do write a full blog entry on this storm. "Hurricanes can cause hidden structural damage to your property."

Historically, two storms made landfall in late August in Texas in the late 19th century and they were considered outliers. One storm was the Indianola Hurricane, which destroyed the port city of Indianola, then at competition with Galveston. When Galveston was almost wiped out in the 1900 storm, that myth was blown apart forever. The forecast for the Saturday when it hit was "rain, with wind". One man tells his account that is recounted in the book, Isaac's Storm, about the 1900 hurricane.

I would discourage all the hype. The fact is that there's a large area of coast threatened and that's a problem much more than the fact that there's a bit of uncertainty because the storm missed the first TUTT influence. Both Indianola and Galveston storms began as a minimal tropical storm that tracked over Cuba. Both had devastating surge and destroyed a major city.

Remember that when Katrina crossed over South Florida, it was a minimal category one hurricane but still killed close to ten people. It managed to turn southwest and back north, something I don't think Isaac will do, but it could evoke memories of Gustav or Lili, both of which threatened to hit as a category four and weakened thereafter. Isaac has the potential to move over the Loop Current for nearly three days before it makes landfall around 2 PM Wednesday near Mississippi. It could be a minimal cat. two or strong cat. three, but because the range of landfall possibilities and the fact that west FLorida is on its strong side, anything can happen. It probably won't hit Texas though, because the second trough will pick it up the way the first trough missed.

The Mississippi River valley, which has seen major drought this year, could see significant rains and flooding. Drought followed by flood is never good for erosion concerns, and the storm could move vertically up the valley. The Ohio river valley will likely be affected as well.

I know not to look at the models by now, but the model spread of GFS spaghetti looks to me eerily like Ike, though I know it will not shift that far west. Yet the forecast regime has shifted precipitously after Isaac hugged the northern coast of Cuba. Isaac still has some dry air to deal with, but it could turn out to be a very large storm. It's always important to be prepared, to board up your house and potentially to evacuate when it is necessary to do so. Many people were killed in Katrina when they stayed behind in category three conditions in New Orleans, when the floodwaters from the rain receeded but clear Lake Pontchartrain water started flooding in to the city. It was eerie as the waters rose higher and higher, and people were imprisoned all over the city, law and order broke down. You can read this in a new book called Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, about a Muslim-American family who lost communication with each other for eighteen days during the storm, highly recommend it. Focus on forecasts, preparation, helpful tips (you'll find them all over), and monitor the storm.

I'm currently listening to the Barometer Bob Show.

One important myth to avoid falling into is that storm surge cannot kill you or that inland flooding is not an issue. Storm surge can easily rise above a house in under a minute, as we saw in 1900 Galveston. The storm may not be that intense wind-wise, but wind is actually one of your least problems to worry about, especially if your roof is designed post-Andew wise...but all these areas, from Biloxi to Pensacola to New Orleans to Lake Charles to Metairie are potentially at risk from surge conditions.


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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