The Slower Isaac Takes To Organise, The More He’s Likely To Head For Gulf (Includes Video!)

Courtesy of NOAA

Organisation & Initial Intensity Could Mean Difference Between Heading For East Coast or Gulf

As Isaac continues to wax and wane as he enters the eastern Caribbean having endured dry air and wind shear. The same question remains despite what the models are suggesting and that is, when will this storm intensify. I really do believe that it’s all down to intensity and when it will begin to build vertically into the higher reaches of the atmosphere where the seering winds are. If this was to grow strong before reaching Hispaniola then I think it’s heading more towards Miami and up the coast to the Carolinas.

Although that would be a bad scanario also. The thing is that waters aren’t quite as warm, nor deep and there could be a lot of land interaction with Hispaniola, even eastern Cuba which could greatly damage the inner core of the system. History tells us that often when tropical cyclones cross these large anbd rugged land masses for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, they more often than not don’t properly or fully recover. Of course this is not good for these islands but for US concerns, it would be best case scenario if this system was to spend a lot of time over these islands.

Map courtesy of Ther Weather Channel

4 track scenarios on the table

1) Isaac intensifies quickly over the next 12 to 24 hours and becomes a Cat 1 or 2 hurricane within 48 hours. This would likely mean it could catch the trough which takes it up the east coast of Florida and into the Carolinas as a Cat 2, maybe 3.

2) The system more slowly intensifies, crosses Hispaniola and eastern Cuba continuing to turn north, eventually crossing the Florida Straits and into S Florida as a Cat 1, maybe 2. Weaker because of land interaction and little time to interact with warm water become another landfall.

3) This would be the 2nd worst case. The GFS idea which has it cross the islands or just south, crosses western Cuba and then runs due north over the Keys, up the Gulf Coast of Florida which would pile water into Tampa Bay, flooding it and then makes landfall as a Cat 3 in the Florida Panhandle.

4) Worst case, the system remains fairly weak, unorganised through the next 48 hours which keeps it pushing through the northern Caribbean Sea but keeps centre of circulation off the islands so the system remains pretty strong. Then strikes western Cuba as an intensifying hurricane, perhaps Cat 2 as it emerges into the southern Gulf. By then, if it were to reach the loop current and maximum heat potential over the central Gulf, another Katrina could be born with major evacuations again for New Orleans etc..

Check out this ECMWF chart.

The concerns over taking a system into the Gulf

Right now, I bye the idea of a storm heading towards the Gulf and I feel the stretch of coast from Grand Isle, LA to Appalachicola, FL must pay real close attention to this.

The big problem with taking a system like this into particularly the central Gulf is that conditions are very similar to Katrina. SST’s are warmer than normal with the surface at or near 90F with a pretty substantial loop current which sends the 28C thermoline 50-100 metres down so even a strong hurricane which churns up cold water from below the warm layer, has nothing cool. A limitless fuel tank so to speak.

Gulf of Mexico SST map courtesy of WeatherBELL Models

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