Sunday, August 26, 2012

Isaac Update, North Gulf Coast, 9:20am

Hopefully, you got a good night's sleep. Now is the time to put your hurricane checklist into effect.

The bottom line is that I believe a major hurricane (categories 3, 4, 5) will strike the northern Gulf coast sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

A hurricane watch (purple) has been issued for part of the area but I do not believe it extends far enough west. So, I have added my area of concern to the map.

Let me hasten to add that the odds are roughly the same in the entire blue interval. It is too soon to know whether the eye will cross the coast at Appalachicola or New Orleans or somewhere in between. 

There is dangerously warm water in the Gulf, especially over the middle and western thirds of the projected corridor I expect the eye to travel. Note that the light blue shading is the path of the eye, not the distribution of the winds. I'll have more on the wind distribution via the graphics below. A special thanks to Dr. Ryan Maue for his excellent depiction of the models' output.

A tornado risk will develop in the northern Gulf region coast on Tuesday: If you don't have a weather radio or other source of tornado warnings -- even if the power is out -- now would be a good time to purchase one.

Here are several scenarios. Unfortunately, none are good.

GFS Model
The GFS shows an upper Cat. 3 or borderline 4 striking southeast Louisiana and moving west northwest.

GFDL Model
Similar to the GFS but weaker. It is showing a Category 2, perhaps a borderline 3.

HRWF Model
A Cat 3 moving up the mouth of the Mississippi River toward New Orleans.

European Model
An upper Cat 2, almost Cat 3, moving inland right on the Florida-Alabama border.

The model consensus is that storm intensity will be from category 2 to borderline 4. Why do I allow for the possibility of an even stronger storm? It is because there is extremely warm water under Isaac if it takes the more western path and we know from experience the models are far from perfect when forecasting intensity. So, given the very warm water, an even stronger storm is possible. 

If you are on a vacation or business trip to the area: Get out. Now. If you are flying, here is my Airline Crisis Survival Guide. Do not be passive. If you are in, say, Gulfport and the flights are full, ask the airline if they can give you a confirmed reservation out of Mobile. Or, drive inland to Jackson or New Orleans. Just get out.

For residents of the hurricane watch...

If you are in one of the coastal counties in the hurricane watch or area of concern, it is time to make preparations for evacuating, if an evacuation is ordered.

If you are within 50 miles of the coast, now is the time to be thinking about that generator you've always thought about purchasing or -- at minimum -- a power inverter.  The latter will keep your laptop and cell phone charged. It can also be used to keep, for example, a small refrigerator on from time to time (keep the door closed!) to keep essential medicine chilled.

Less than 15 days' on your prescription medicine? Get it refilled immediately. In an evacuation, you, your doctor, and your pharmacist will all be in different places. Go ahead and spend the money, you'll use the medicine eventually. This is even more true if you have an Rx for a controlled substance. It will be extremely difficult to get that refilled if on the road.

Get the car filled with gas. You'll need it to run the inverter and/or evacuate.

There are numerous hurricane watch/warning checklists. Get one from the web and then start accomplishing the items that pertain to you.

Good luck. Be patient.


  1. "Less than 15 days' on your prescription medicine? Get it refilled immediately."

    The Bride of Monster takes various Rx and OTC drugs, including one necessary to keep her muscles working (Pyridostigmine Bromide, treating Myasthenia Gravis). I told her years ago to "get ahead" on that prescription, provided she doesn't get so far "ahead" that the medicine runs the risk of losing potency (the slight bit of humidity in the air in the bottle contributes to a gradual degradation, offset by the silica gel dessicant the pharmacist always puts in the bottle). She has well over a one-month supply here at home, and I've gotten her to carry at least a week's supply in her purse whenever she leaves the house, as there's always the chance of some reason (truck carrying toxic chemicals wrecks turning the sharp corner at the other end of the block, cops cordon off the area until it's cleaned up) why she might not be able to get back home, and the drug store might be out of it. (Even under normal circumstances, they sometimes can only give her a partial refill, then complete the prescription a few days later.)

    While you're absolutely right to point out the specific vulnerability of people in this threat zone, I'd like to extend it to anyone taking a prescription drug without which they could die (in TBoM's case, if muscles don't work, breathing is a bit of a problem too).

    With hurricanes, we can give people quite a bit of advance warning so they can get to high enough ground to be above the storm surge, and in structures strong enough to resist the winds anticipated. With a lot of other scenarios that make it difficult to fill a prescription, there is no advance warning.

    And if you already have that reserve of your critical prescriptions, that's one less thing to be on your hurricane checklist.


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