Isaac pounding Haiti and the Dominican Republic with torrential rains

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac is pounding Haiti and the Dominican Republic with torrential rains that are causing extremely dangerous flooding and landslides. Isaac's center passed over Haiti's southwest peninsula early this morning, tracking about 50 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince. As the center pulled away to the northwest, Isaac's heaviest thunderstorms moved ashore over Hispaniola near sunrise, and are now dumping heavy rains with rainfall rates approaching one inch per hour, according to recent microwave satellite estimates. Barahona on the south coast of the Dominican Republic had received 5.14" of rain as of 8 am EDT this morning, and it is probable that some mountainous areas in Haiti and the Dominican Republic have already received up to 10" of rain from Isaac. These rains will continue though much of the day, and have the potential to cause high loss of life in Hispaniola.


Figure 1. A river north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti in flood due to rains from Isaac. Image from Amélie Baron via Twitter.

Latest observations
Isaac built a partial eyewall last night as the storm approached Haiti, but passage over the rough mountains of Haiti has destroyed the inner core, and the surface center of the storm is now fully exposed to view on satellite images. Radar out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba shows no sign of an organized center, but does reveal some very intense thunderstorms affecting Eastern Cuba, Western Haiti, and nearby islands. Latest data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunters confirm that Isaac has weakened; during their penetration to obtain their 7:08 am EDT center fix, the aircraft reported top surface winds of 55 mph with their SFMR instrument, top flight-level winds at 5,000 feet of 68 mph, and a pressure rise of 3 mb, to 998 mb. Infrared and visible satellite loops show that Isaac remains a large and well-organized storm, though it lacks an inner core. An analysis of upper level winds from the University of Wisconsin CIMSS shows that upper-level outflow is still good to the north, but is lacking elsewhere. An impressive large multi-day satellite animation of Isaac is available from the Navy Research Lab.


Figure 2. Rainfall rates estimated by the NOAA F-17 polar orbiting satellite at 6:21 am EDT August 25, 2012. Rainfall rates of 1 inch per hour (orange colors) were occurring in a large area to the south of Hispaniola, and these heavy rains have now moved onshore. Image credit: Navy Research Laboratory.

Latest model runs for Isaac
The latest set of 0Z and 06Z (8 pm and 2 am EDT) model runs are similar in spread to the previous set of runs. Our two best models, the GFS and ECMWF, are virtually on top of each other, with a landfall location in the Florida Panhandle between Fort Walton Beach and Panama City. It is likely that the trough of low pressure pulling Isaac to the north will not be strong enough to pull Isaac all the way to the northeast and out to sea, and Isaac has the potential to drop torrential rains capable of causing serious flooding over the Southeast U.S. The latest 8-day precipitation forecast from the GFS model (Figure 3) calls for 10 - 15 inches of rain over portions of Georgia and South Carolina from Isaac. The ECMWF model, however, predicts that a ridge of high pressure will build in and force Isaac to the west after landfall, resulting in a slow motion across the Tennessee Valley into Arkansas by Friday. Arkansas is experiencing its worst drought in over 50 years, so the rains would be welcome there.


Figure 3. Predicted precipitation for the 8-day period from 2 am Saturday August 25 to 2 am Sunday September 2, from the 2 am EDT August 25 run of the GFS model. This model is predicting a wide swath of 5 - 10 inches of rain (orange colors) will affect portions of Cuba, Florida, the Bahamas, and the Southeast U.S. Image credit: NOAA/NCEP.

Intensity forecast for Isaac
Isaac survived passage over Hispaniola relatively intact. It's large size aided this, and this will also help it survive passage over Cuba today and Sunday. By the time Isaac pops off the coast of Cuba into the Florida Straits on Sunday, it will likely be a 50 mph tropical storm with a large, intact circulation. Isaac will be over very warm waters of 31°C (88°F) in the Florida Straits, wind shear will be light to moderate, and the upper-level wind pattern will feature an upper-level anticyclone over the storm, aiding its upper-level outflow. As I discussed in my previous post, Crossing Hispaniola and Cuba: a history, there have been five storms since 1900 with an intensity similar to Isaac, which crossed over both Haiti and Cuba, then emerged into the Florida Straits. These five storms strengthened by 5 - 20 mph in their first 24 hours after coming off the coast of Cuba. Given the relatively intact structure of Isaac so far, and the favorable conditions for intensification, I expect Isaac will intensify by 15 - 20 mph in 24 hours once the center moves off of the north coast of Cuba. If Isaac spends a full two days over water after passing the Florida Keys, it is possible that it will have enough time to develop a full eyewall and undergo rapid intensification into a Category 2 or 3 hurricane. The latest 06Z (2 am EDT) run of the GFDL model is calling for Isaac to intensify to Category 2 strength, then weaken to Category 1 at landfall in Mississippi on Tuesday. The 06Z HWRF run is calling for landfall in the Florida Panhandle near Fort Walton Beach as a borderline Category 2 or 3 hurricane. The 5 am EDT NHC wind probability forecast gave Isaac a 19% chance of becoming a Category 2 or stronger hurricane in the Gulf. I expect these odds are too low, and that Isaac has a 40% chance of becoming a Category 2 or stronger hurricane in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. I doubt the storm has much of a chance of hitting Category 4 or 5 status, though. While the surface waters in the Gulf of Mexico are very warm, near 30 - 31°C, the total heat content of these waters is unusually low for this time of year. We got lucky with the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current this summer, as it did not shed a big warm eddy during the height of hurricane season, like happened in 2005 (I discuss this in my Gulf of Mexico Loop Current Tutorial.) Without the type of super-high heat energy we had in 2005 in the Gulf of Mexico, Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in 2012 will have difficulty forming.

Invest 97L off the coast of Africa
A tropical wave (Invest 97L) is located about 350 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. The storm has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorms, and is under moderate wind shear. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 97L a 30% chance of developing by Monday morning. The 8 am EDT SHIPS model forecast predicts moderate shear for the next 5 days over 97L, so some development is possible if 97L can fend off the dry air to its north. None of the reliable models foresee that 97L will be a threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands. However, both the GFS and ECMWF models predict that a tropical wave that has not yet emerged from the coast of Africa may develop next week, and potentially take a more westward track towards the Lesser Antilles.

The Weather Channel's hurricane expert, Brian Norcross, is now writing a blog on wunderground.com. For those of you unfamiliar with his background, here's an excerpt from his first post, from last night:

"This evening 20 years ago the sun set on the horrendous first day after Hurricane Andrew. I was in downtown Miami at the studios of the NBC station. We knew that there was "total" destruction in South Dade County, but even that didn't describe it. Here's to the people that went through it... and held their families together in a situation that most people can't imagine."

Angela Fritz will have a new post here by 6 pm EDT. For the next few days, I plan to do the morning blog post, and Angela will be doing the late afternoon post.

Jeff Masters


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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Ok, so now I'm convinced that Louisiana is out of the dangers zone. After reading this blog by Dr. Masters it seems that a strike, whether it be a Cat. 1 or 2 will be focused near the FL Panhandle.
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"It is likely that the trough of low pressure pulling Isaac to the north will not be strong enough to pull Isaac all the way to the northeast and out to sea, and Isaac has the potential to drop torrential rains capable of causing serious flooding over the Southeast U.S."

That trough may be too weak to turn Isaac into a fish, but let's hope it's not strong enough to hold him over hot water!
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new Vortex updated 3 miuntes a go



Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 25th day of the month at 14:35Z
Corrected: This observation corrected a previous observation.
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 309)
Storm Number & Year: 09L in 2012
Storm Name: Isaac (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 14
Observation Number: 21
A. Time of Center Fix: 25th day of the month at 10:39:00Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 19°32'N 73°36'W (19.5333N 73.6W)
B. Center Fix Location: 107 miles (173 km) to the NW (310°) from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 3,055m (10,023ft) at 700mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 47kts (~ 54.1mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 10 nautical miles (12 statute miles) to the N (351°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 124° at 55kts (From between the ESE and SE at ~ 63.3mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 22 nautical miles (25 statute miles) to the NNE (24°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1000mb (29.53 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 6°C (43°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,044m (9,987ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 10°C (50°F) at a pressure alt. of 3,051m (10,010ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 8°C (46°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Wind and Pressure
N. Fix Level: 700mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 2 nautical miles
Remarks Section - Remarks That Were Decoded...
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 59kts (~ 67.9mph) in the northeast quadrant at 10:17:30Z
Remarks Section - Additional Remarks...
INBOUND TEMP RAIN COOLED, COR FOR MET ACCURACY
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Eye"s" visible on Radar out of Okinawa. Awesome storm to watch while Isaac is in a momentary rut.

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Quoting NICycloneChaser:
I'm really not convinced of this western jog, seems more WNW to me, and I think the centre isn't far off being north of Cuba. But we'll see when the next recon is in...


It is bouncing around quite a bit. Bounced around to the wsw for a moment, and then back to the NNE a little. It's the windfield gripping the mountainous terrain, trying to stay near the MLC, and trying to figure out what to do.
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


Yes that image does show your point, its not as bad I though, but look at the RGB loop too. Tell me what you think using that in conjunction with the radar loop? All three of those show me that it is stretched and becoming more disorganized? I'm not trying to one up anyone. I know very well that I know very little on this stuff...lol. But I do want to learn as much as I can about these things. Imput is ALWAYS apprieciated!
Yeah, the circulation is without a doubt losing a slight bit of organization, but that shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise because we knew that it was going to suffer in this region. I think the main thing we should be looking at is the fact the it will not be spending more than an hour or two, if that, over Cuban mainland that could further disrupt the circulation and cause a vertical tilt.

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This also proof that people tropics chat was being trolled yesterday.If Jim Cantori dos join WU then Doc will let us know.
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NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST....YAY!!! EVERBODY'S RIGHT!!!! Gettin ridiculous in here!!
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Quoting DVG:
Something is spinning over Cuba. What is it? I don't think it the main center. I can understand the difference of opinion looking at it tho.


Entirely possible that it could be a weaker vortex that Isaac is spitting out. Had like 4 of those before it hit Cuba.
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Not sure how many of you saw this, I posted it on the last blog.
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Thanks for the update Doc.

And thanks to the other guys who post on here with a lot of useful information for those who are semi-ignorant on Tropical Storms.
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Can anyone post MJO chart now.Would like to know
if we are in an upward phase --aiding Isaac's development or downward phase.
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Quoting Dakster:
That answers a bunch of questions for me!

Awesome that Brian Norcross is going to blog here.


Brain Norcross become a hero to many during Hurricane Andrew. Check out this footage from Andrew in the studios back in 1992. The studio is now gone and has been replace with by a Federal Courthouse.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma3r-zhny3k
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Thx for the update
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I'm really not convinced of this western jog, seems more WNW to me, and I think the centre isn't far off being north of Cuba. But we'll see when the next recon is in...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I actually agree with you.


Quoting barotropic:


Me to. Its very visible on IR sat also.


All this agreeing with everyone is not usual, at all at all.
Isaac is doing Strange Things.....
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


But can he survive Cuba? His center needs to stay on the north shore IMO to be able to survive that track.

Its center isn't going to completely dissipate in an hour, which is about how look the crossing is going to take.
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Thanks Doc,

Brian Norcross is a great guy with a lot of experience. He was deemed a hero during H. Andrew where on the air he told a caller to 'hold the front door shut at all costs'... which kept their roof from blowing off. H. Andrew was a nightmare for S. Dade county. My hat's off to those folks.
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TORNADO WARNING
VAC710-740-251445-
/O.NEW.KAKQ.TO.W.0022.120825T1413Z-120825T1445Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAKEFIELD VA
1013 AM EDT SAT AUG 25 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WAKEFIELD HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
WESTERN CITY OF NORFOLK IN SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA...
NORTHERN CITY OF PORTSMOUTH IN SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA...

* UNTIL 1045 AM EDT

* AT 1009 AM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR DOWNTOWN
PORTSMOUTH..AND MOVING NORTHWEST AT 20 MPH.

* THIS DANGEROUS STORM WILL BE NEAR...
NORFOLK NAS AROUND 1025 AM EDT.

OTHER LOCATIONS IMPACTED BY THIS DANGEROUS STORM INCLUDE WARDS
CORNER.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE... OR
OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

&&

LAT...LON 3682 7631 3692 7640 3695 7636 3695 7635
3696 7635 3697 7633 3697 7631 3698 7631
3699 7630 3686 7624
TIME...MOT...LOC 1413Z 153DEG 18KT 3686 7631

$$

ALBRIGHT
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Ihanks Dr. M...waiting for the 11 am NHC update to
see which amateurs on here were correct in their
analysis this morning
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This jet passed near the north pole and left a contrail that is 300 miles away from it's shadow.

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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
NHC has a challenge to define coc and track at 11am...
Not really, at least not for the next 3 days or so. They can rely on all the conforming models. 3 days out, they are almost always right, ere except for Debby and well Charlie, no could have seen that coming. So, don't worry W coast FL., it is pretty much set in stone for now, unless it changes.
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There's actually some evidence on radar that suggests the circulation is already tightening up again.

The entire rain band to the SW is rapidly moving to consolidate with the core.

Notice how it's moving towards the core faster than the core itself is moving, so they should converge and it should wrap around.

radar
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting nola70119:


Haiti can kill a storm entirely, and Issac is in fairly good shape.....


But can he survive Cuba? His center needs to stay on the north shore IMO to be able to survive that track.
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HERE IN AZUA ARE FALLING CATS AND DOGS!!!
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46. DVG
Something is spinning over Cuba. What is it? I don't think it the main center. I can understand the difference of opinion looking at it tho.
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Quoting HCW:
New watches and warnings to be issued at 11AM stay tuned. Not posting them publicly after the beating the NHC put on me last year for doing so

How? Are you Batman?
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Quoting Ameister12:
So, Bolaven isn't the only tropical cyclone to have three eyewalls simultaneously.

Hurricane Juliette 2001:



I can't believe the inner eye hasn't collapsed yet on Bolaven. In fact it looks more defined then ever. Going to be a crazy couple of days in Okinawa.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I actually agree with you.


Me to. Its very visible on IR sat also.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I don't believe so; fixate your eyes on the lower-level cloud deck and you'll see the surface circulation basically on the southeastern tip of the Cuban coast. I doubt that Isaac will spend anymore than 45 minutes to an hour over mainland, if not just a scrape along the coast.



The LLC is just off the coast between Cajobabo and Rio Seco. The mid-level circulation is slightly to the NW of that. Not perfectly stacked. Now go look at the mountains in that area.

Again, the way it looks now was to be expected, and no it would not take a lot for him to recover if/when he gets off the Cuban Coast and in to the Atl/Straits. But right now he is limping along and just trying to hold it all together.
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I am not going to be a happy person if my power goes out!!! I can't live without a/c!! Isaac stay away from South Florida!! You are not welcomed here!!
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"The NHC wind probability gave Isaac a 19% chance of becoming a category 2 or stronger in the Gulf.I expect these odds are to low,and Isaac has a 40% chance of becoming a category 2 or stronger hurricane in the northern Gulf of Mexico"...Hmmm very interesting.He also mention that rapid intensification is possible in the straits.All depends how quickly Isaac get's his act together and the speed of the storm.
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


Yes that image does show your point, its not as bad I though, but look at the RGB loop too. Tell me what you think using that in conjunction with the radar loop? All three of those show me that it is stretched and becoming more disorganized? I'm not trying to one up anyone. I know very well that I know very little on this stuff...lol. But I do want to learn as much as I can about these things. Imput is ALWAYS apprieciated!


Haiti can kill a storm entirely, and Issac is in fairly good shape.....
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Quoting RTSplayer:
Yeah, the 15% extent is only around 6 std deviations outside the normal.




thats off topic and where not talking about GW



here is a good blog for that post


Link



whats keep the Climate Change and sea ice and GW chat in that blog why we have storms out there
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Thanks Dr. Masters!
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By the time the centre is fully over the sea again, it will have wrapped-in all that heavy convection to it's east and south.

Substantial strengthening is more than likely in a couple hours.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The circulation is not decoupled.



Yes that image does show your point, its not as bad I thought, but look at the RGB loop too. Tell me what you think using that in conjunction with the radar loop? All three of those show me that it is stretched and becoming more disorganized? I'm not trying to one up anyone. I know very well that I know very little on this stuff...lol. But I do want to learn as much as I can about these things. Imput is ALWAYS apprieciated!
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Wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble, yeah
Wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble, yeah
Wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble baby, wooble, yeah

Get in there, yeah, yeah
Get in there, yeah, yeah
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Thank you Dr. Masters.

RP:

I don't believe so; fixate your eyes on the lower-level cloud deck and you'll see the surface circulation basically on the southeastern tip of the Cuban coast. I doubt that Isaac will spend anymore than 45 minutes to an hour over mainland, if not just a scrape along the coast.



The center is just off SE Cuba...hah
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Quoting HCW:
New watches and warnings to be issued at 11AM stay tuned. Not posting them publicly after the beating the NHC put on me last year for doing so


What about Palm Beach County. Anything different you can allude to?
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Thank you for the update Dr. Masters.
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Thank you, Doc. I'm not liking this. My oldest son is tasked to stay at Hurlburt through this, so don't like the idea of a direct to where he is.
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So, Bolaven isn't the only tropical cyclone to have three eyewalls simultaneously.

Hurricane Juliette 2001:

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So we might have a major in GOM? Great... at least GOM isn't as favorable as 2005 season, according to Masters.
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I'm not so sure its a decoupling of the centers as much as it is restricted inflow due to the mountains and 15 knots of westerly shear:

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This storm just managed to survive the Eastern Caribbean, Haiti, and appears to still have a decent structure. Storms jerk and move certain directions all the time after doing this, Isaac is no different. The general motion remains NW. The NHC never uses wobbles as a mean for a motion, never. Otherwise you'd have the storm changing latitude or longitude significantly every advisory. They use the mean for the last 6 hours as a motion and not just 5 satellite loops. Has Isaac jogged west? Yes, but not as drastic as it would die over Cuba. IMO, I suspect Isaac will emerge as a large, 50mph Tropical Storm off Cuba and then begin to intensify.
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Yeah, the 15% extent is only around 6 std deviations outside the normal.

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thanks doc! dont discount a cat 4 though. if he is a cat 1 and undergoes RI, he could just as fast become a 4. the gulf coast should prepare for at least a cat 2 and at most a 4
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i really wish we had a recon up
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I have eaten some crow appetizers over the last 18 hours regarding Isaac, but currently the COC appears to benear 19.9N and 74.5W and is currently tracking west along the southern SE Cuban coast.

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21. HCW
New watches and warnings to be issued at 11AM stay tuned. Not posting them publicly after the beating the NHC put on me last year for doing so
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather