Saturday, August 25, 2012

Updated Hurricane Outlook

The usual caution applies: Do not take the model position and intensity as exact, just approximations at this point. 

Part of my motivation for writing this is the misplaced bravado that I am seeing from people in the potential path of the storm. I posted one of those earlier today, here's another from a little while ago:
Isaac should be taken very seriously. Here is what you need to know at this point. 

Let's start with an update pertaining to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.  Highest winds will occur Sunday night and Monday morning.  Here is the latest NWS GFS forecast courtesy of Dr. Ryan Maue valid 8am EDT Monday. Gusts above 50 mph are possible. The winds could be quite strong if the storm moves close enough to the coast.

Here is the zone through I expect the eye of Isaac to travel. The odds are the same in New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile, or Fort Walton Beach.

Given that the northern Gulf coast from New Orleans east could experience landfall, here is the GFS's latest landfall forecast. You can mentally slide it anywhere from here, east.
Latest landfall forecast, click to see entire graphic, including wind scale
Compare it to the previous version. You see the newer (above) is slightly farther west. Do not take this literally, landfall could be anywhere in my outlined zone. The main point is that the model is forecasting at least a category 3 hurricane. Winds would gust above 110 mph in the whitish-brown area of southern Mississippi.
earlier GFS landfall forecast

Now, here is a real nightmare. The newest GFS moves Isaac west across New Orleans with north winds gusting to 100 mph over Lake Ponchartrain. That brings flooding in New Orleans into play.

Finally, here is the U.S. hurricane model's path. It brings a strong hurricane into the New Orleans-Mississippi coastal area.
Regardless of where the eye crosses land, there will be -- if these intensity forecasts are correct -- a major storm surge to the east of the eye. So, for example, if the eye goes ashore at Gulfport, there would be a storm surge into Mobile Bay and points east.

It is extremely important not to take these positions, intensity, or times literally. It is beyond the state-of-the-art to nail this down precisely at this time.  What I am trying to convey is that Isaac requires extreme respect and precautionary planning and actions. 

If you have a trip planned or are vacationing in the area, get out. Here is my Airline Crisis Survival Guide. It will help you navigate the sometimes capricious airline policies in these situations.

If you live in the region, get a good night's sleep tonight and start down your hurricane checklist first thing in the morning. If you live along the coast, it wouldn't hurt to make a hotel reservation at least 100 miles inland.

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