Damaging Central Gulf Coast Hurricane Likely… My Latest Thoughts… Saturday Update 4:40pm
August 25, 2012 2 Comments
Good Saturday afternoon to you! I’ve been on vacation for the past few days, but I’m back in town. Going through the data this afternoon, we’re looking at a dangerous situation for the northern and central Gulf Coast States, as Tropical Storm Isaac moves in this general direction. This storm is having a tough time right now due to the interaction of land over Cuba this afternoon, but that will change tonight, as the storm pulls away from the Cuba coast.
Above is our spaghetti plot of tropical models, ran at 18z today. This new set came out at 3pm today. There are some models that take it across Florida, but they are strictly climatology models and have little to no importance. The models you should be concerned with are the ones that take it inland anywhere from New Orleans to Panama City. These show landfall times sometime Tuesday evening through Wednesday early afternoon. If the storm tracks across the Gulf, well away from Florida, it could grow into a powerful system. The water temperatures are in the 85 to 90 degree range all across the central, eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico. This is a prime source of fuel for Isaac. Wind shear is forecasted to die out over the next 12 hours, and the environment is going to grow very favorable for development between tomorrow morning and Tuesday night.
Above is a run of a reliable 12z run of the GFS. It shows a powerful hurricane, making landfall near the Alabama, Mississippi line sometime Tuesday night. The storm then tracks along the state line inland. If you take this one model as being the correct solution, we would experience damaging winds across much of west and central Alabama, flooding rains and tornadoes late Tuesday through Thursday. It’s hard to say what model will be correct at this point, but confidence is increasing that a significant hurricane will cause big problems along the central Gulf Coast and well inland near the center. I say near the center, but the effects will likely be felt very far from the center due to it’s large size. In terms of a large swath of winds, the storm compares to the size of Ivan or Katrina. Will this storm be as damaging as Ivan or Katrina? It’s still a little early in the game to know. It all depends on what happens as the storm pulls away from Cuba. If it moves far enough away from Florida and begins a rapid development, then major issues will become likely. If the storm has a tough time getting organized for a day or so, then it will probably not reach major hurricane status. I want to warn you that there is a real chance this storm could grow to category 3 or 4 status before reaching landfall. This is a real threat and you need to pay very close attention to the forecasting trends.
Here’s the 5pm track from the National Hurricane Center. Again, I want to warn you, this will change over the next couple of days. The NHC forecasts Isaac to move inland near Destin, then move north into east central Alabama on Wednesday. The forecast this storm as a category 2 at landfall, with 100 mph winds. One, this storm is huge and will impact a large area, so the exact landfall point isn’t important. Two, many of our reliable models bring this thing inland along the Alabama or Mississippi Gulf Coast, so the track could easily shift west and include a damaging storm surge along our Alabama beaches. The most damaging portion of the storm will occur along and east of the center. If you take the exact forecast track as being dead on, the dangerous part of Isaac would occur around and east of Montgomery. I think there’s a good chance all of central and west Alabama could deal with flooding rain, damaging wind and tornadoes. It’s just going to take another 12 hours before we know… I’ll continue to update you as more information comes in.
Worst case scenario for our area, west and central Alabama could deal with a similar storm to hurricane Ivan back in 2004. Best case scenario for our area, the storm tracks to our east and we stay on the west side of the center. That would keep the damaging wind threat, flooding and tornadoes east of our area. Again, this is a real threat for our area and needs to be paid a close attention over the next few days. Again, more updates to come…
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