Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac stronger, set to cross Haiti and Cuba on path to U.S.

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 08/24/2012

Tropical Storm Isaac stronger, set to cross Haiti and Cuba on path to U.S.
By Brian McNoldy

Isaac has not reached hurricane intensity yet, but as of 11 a.m. EDT,
the maximum sustained winds are 60 mph. This is the strongest the storm
has been so far. The threshold for becoming a hurricane is 74 mph. It
still does not appear to be poised to rapidly intensify – the deep
convection (strongest thunderstorms) is mostly off to the south, and a
developing storm "prefers" to have the strongest thunderstorms
persistently form over the center. Hurricanes love symmetry.

If you're tracking along, I have several radar loops covering Isaac's
journey through the Caribbean, and will add more sites as it heads for
the U.S. The one from Gran Piedra, Cuba should be of particular interest

Link: Hurricane Tracker

Regardless of what exact intensity the storm is, there are dangers
associated with any tropical cyclone.

The primary one for now is rain, and the associated flooding, mudslides,
etc. Much of southern Florida could receive 6-9" in the next few days,
with locally higher amounts. Areas in Haiti and Dominican Republic could
see 10-20" of rain, with 6-12" in Jamaica and eastern Cuba. Besides
flooding, additional threats include coastal storm surge, tornadoes, and
of course, winds from the storm itself.

The track guidance as of 8 a.m. EDT today remained tightly clustered.
All models show a turn to the west-northwest then northwest, taking
Isaac over or near Haiti today, then along the spine of Cuba on Saturday
into Sunday, before emerging into the Florida Straits (between Cuba and
Florida) on Sunday morning.

Isaac should make its closest approach to southern Florida on Monday
morning. Once the storm re-emerges over water on Sunday morning, we
should see some intensification, but the exact amount will depend on how
much it gets beaten up by traveling near Haiti and Cuba. It looks very
likely that Isaac will spend Monday and Tuesday over the very warm
eastern Gulf of Mexico in a low-shear environment as it heads toward the
northern Gulf coast.

Probability of tropical storm force winds over the next five days. View
larger. (NOAA/NHC)Based on the 11 a.m. EDT advisory package from the
National Hurricane Center, Key West has a 47% chance of experiencing
tropical storm force winds in the next 5 days, Miami is at 26%, and
Tampa is at 31%. Raising the bar to hurricane force winds, Key West
stands at 5%, Miami at 0%, and Tampa at 1%.

If Isaac recovers from the trek over Cuba and begins to re-organize on
Monday, it could become a dangerous situation for the entire eastern
Gulf coast, from Louisiana to Florida. Stay tuned, and if you're in any
of those areas, it's not a bad idea to calmly make some preliminary
preparations. Finally, following up on yesterday's discussion about the
RNC in Tampa, not much has changed; Tampa is still expected to
experience adverse weather conditions, and some minor storm surge,
during the first half of next week.

Brian McNoldy is a senior researcher at the University of Miami's
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Tropical Storm Isaac stronger, set to cross Haiti and Cuba on path to U.S.

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