Important time period coming up for Isaac and where it ultimately ends up

Isaac looks pretty ragged tonight with deep convection really on the downturn. On the other hand, it seems to be trying to develop a central core which could lead to strengthening if it weren’t for the lack of deep convection. Isaac has been quite an interesting storm to forecast and it has kept many of us on edge.

The biggest threat coming up for the Greater Antilles will be flooding. Isaac is forecast to pass over Haiti and then eastern Cuba this weekend. We will hope for the best but know how bad the flooding can be.

Since the storm is so large, it will spread rain and squally weather up in to Florida this weekend. Since there has already been way too much rain in portions of Florida already in recent weeks, Isaac will only add to the water in the ground and it is possible that this will be a serious flooding event if nothing else. Keep this in mind if you live in Florida and have seen a lot of rain as of late.

After Isaac emerges over the Florida Straits, the clock will really begin to tick, so to speak. It is this time frame when we could see it either strengthen and do so quickly or never recover after passing over the Antilles. It is for this reason, the uncertainty in the future intensity, that residents all along the coast of Florida and areas inland as well, need to be prepared and stay informed. I suggest you get a NOAA Weather Radio and use it for local weather statements as Isaac rolls past.

The official forecast calls for a landfall in the Panhandle next week. We’ll see how that changes over the coming days but people in that region should be already thinking about what actions to take. Don’t try to “wait and see” if Isaac is strong enough to convince you it means business. By the time it does and you react, it may be too late to make much difference. Remember the size of the storm here too- if it gets strong, it will impact a lot of people.

I will decide tomorrow morning what area of Florida my team and I will begin coverage from. I am leaning towards the Panhandle area so that we can be absolutely ready for the assumed stronger landfall this coming week. We’ll have a live stream on the homepage in place of the blog. That stream will be free through Ustream and will run up until a certain point and then we must use the live video for our private clients- our subscribers. They pay the bills and we appreciate that and so we must allocate our resources towards taking care of them with the live video feeds. If you’re interested in signing up, we have room for about 150 more members right now until we have to limit access to preserve the integrity of the service. We cannot handle 1000s of subscribers at once – it would just get too overwhelming and we can’t handle individual questions etc. during our live coverage. So check out Client Services in the link over in the right-hand column. It supports our work and gives you something absolutely unique and innovative in return. We’ll also be posting video blogs to the new HurricaneTrack app for iPhone. Our Android version is not ready yet. Hopefully we can fund the completion of the Android version after we get back from the Isaac mission.

I’ll have another blog post here in the morning and then it will be time to hit the road and begin the Isaac field work.

Latest run of GFS puts Florida peninsula in Isaac’s path

As Isaac tries to gain organization today, its future track remains a big question mark. It seems fairly certain that over the next day or so that the storm will pass over parts of Hispaniola and Cuba. It’s what happens after that part of the track forecast that has huge implications for Florida.

As you may recall, the computer model guidance has been shifting west over the past couple of days and the threat of a significant hurricane landfall along the central Gulf Coast seemed to be growing. This westward trend has apparently come to a halt today and now the threat to southeast Florida and the peninsula as a whole is back in play.

Latest GFS Model Run Showing Threat to SE Florida

Latest GFS Model Run Showing Threat to SE Florida

The key elements are a trough and ridge. The ridge is a large area of high pressure situated over the western Atlantic that acts to push on Isaac like a large water balloon. The trough is like a wedge that comes in and is stronger than the water balloon and pushes on it, creating a space for Isaac to move through. If the ridge is strong enough and resists the trough, then Isaac tracks farther to the west. If the trough is strong enough, then Isaac takes that weakness in the atmosphere and comes in to the Florida peninsula. It is not out of the question that the trough energy would be enough to pull Isaac up to the east of Florida either though nothing right now shows that happening. We did see with Irene last year how much the five day forecast can change, even day to day.

The U.S. based GFS or Global Forecast System model in its most recent run shows Isaac bearing down on southeast Florida in about 48 hours and beyond. This is in response to a clear break in the ridge of high pressure over the western Atlantic. While this development is excellent news for the central Gulf Coast, it brings back the possibility of hurricane conditions for the large population center of south Florida and the Keys. Furthermore, the GFS then brings Isaac up the west side of Florida and we all know what is going on next week in Tampa. It will be really interesting to see what the European model, aka ECMWF, shows on its run which will come out later this afternoon. The Euro model lead the charge for a westward track for several days in a row and has only recently begun to swing more east as it too sees a stronger digging by the trough over the eastern United States.

I know the public would like a perfect forecast with each storm but it’s just not possible yet. The NHC has an incredible amount of talent and modern computer guidance to utilize for each forecast cycle. But when we are talking three, four and five days out or more, there are just so many variables that can come and go, making each forecast a potential challenge. Fortunately for now, Isaac remains quite weak. That aspect of the forecast is also equally tough since rapid intensification can happen almost without warning. This is why people need to just be prepared and not waffle back and forth with the models or the forecasts. If you’re in the cone of uncertainty, then that means there is an uncertain amount of risk to you posed by that tropical entity. If a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning is posted, then it’s time to act. Trying to second guess the guidance or the forecasts is never a good use of time. Just be ready in case Isaac tracks your way and keep in mind that it is a very large storm. This means the effects, wind, rain etc, will be impacting the areas affected well in advance of the center.

I am working on my video blog for our iPhone app now and will have it posted shortly. I will take a graphical, in-depth look at the latest GFS run and what the potential impacts could be for Florida this weekend and in to next week.

I will also be working on packing up equipment for a field mission to Florida where I will work with colleague Mike Watkins to cover Isaac’s impacts on the region. I may leave as early as this evening depending on the future forecast info from the NHC.

I would like to invite you to consider following along LIVE via our Client Services site. It is a subscription service that allows you to watch our progress live while being able to interact with us and other members via our own chat program. It is not open to the public so there are no trolls or troublemakers. Your subscription also gives you access to our expanded set of tracking maps, including our exclusive offering of Stormpulse maps. In addition, we set out our own live streaming video cam systems right in the heart of where the worst of the storm or hurricane is expected. This too is available, 100% ad free, to our subscribers. We have over 380 members from around the world, many from Florida. If you feel that having access to live coverage from a team who has over 15 years of experience in the field, then Client Services can serve you well. Click here to sign up today.

I’ll post another blog update early this evening or sooner if need be.

Tropical depression 9 forms, forecast to become strong hurricane in the Caribbean Sea

Tropical Depression Nine

Tropical Depression Nine

Well it took a bit of time but the tropical wave that we have been watching for the last several days has strengthened to TD #9. It is currently situated well east of the Leeward Islands but will close in rather quickly, bringing tropical storm conditions to the region within 36 hours.

The depression is currently winning the battle against the unusually dry air that has been in place all hurricane season across the deep tropics. Now that it is moving across ocean heat content that is considerably higher than in recent days, the amount of energy needed to fuel the deep convection is in place. Keep in mind that sea surface temperatures and heat content only increase ahead of the soon-to-be storm (which will be Isaac).

Interests in the Leewards need to be ready for a strengthening tropical storm and a large one at that. This means squally weather, heavy rains and winds gusting to near hurricane force in less than 48 hours.

Once past the Lesser Antilles, what would presumably be Isaac is forecast by the NHC to pass south of Puerto Rico and just clip portions of Hispaniola as it heads to a position just south of Cuba in five days. Now this part is extremely important. If the cyclone remains far enough south of these land masses, it could strengthen quite a bit. On the other hand, if the delicate circulation gets tangled up within the mountains of the Greater Antilles, it would almost certainly result in a weaker, disrupted storm/hurricane. The next few days will be critical in terms of what happens next.

I know it is natural to want to know what happens after the five day forecast period. There are certainly plenty of sites that have long range models available. Let’s just say that interests in Florida and indeed the Southeast U.S. as a whole need to watch the progress of this developing system very closely. There are some indications in the long range guidance that it could end up in the eastern Gulf of Mexico while other models suggest a path east of Florida. So there is the problem. It’s just too far out to even worry about right now. My best advice is to monitor and be ready to act. You should already have a hurricane plan in place for just such an event. If not, you better be ready, if not for this one, then for the rest of the season ahead.

We will have a lot more information in the coming days as recon planes from NOAA and the Air Force will be checking the system out thoroughly. This information will help to make the forecasts even better and will give us all the detail we need to prepare accordingly.

I would also like to remind our readers that we do have an app in the App Store that is available for purchase. It is a great way to keep up with the latest from on your iPhone, iPod Touch or even iPad. The app features this blog, our Twitter posts, Facebook updates, live weather data during landfall missions (might we have one coming up soon?), live web cam images from our own instrumented wind towers, video blogs EXCLUSIVE to our app and even a GPS tracking map to show our location while we are out in the field! To get it now click here. If what is a shoe-in to become Isaac makes landfall in the U.S., our app will literally take you there like nothing you have ever seen in a mobile app! It’s a great way to support our work while getting something innovative and informative in return.

I’ll post another update here later this afternoon. Keep in mind that our private clients who have not logged in this season that we do have our LIVE video briefing at 2pm ET on the Client Services site.

Good news and not so good news concerning Debby

I have some good news to share tonight about Debby. I also have some not so good news. First, the good….

TS Debby

TS Debby

The deep convection with Debby is really falling off. This means that the strong showers and thunderstorms that drive the heat engine are not functioning too well. You can easily see the void of deep convection in the graphic. The green circle indicates the area where the center is located. Without deep thunderstorm activity near the center, a tropical cyclone cannot thrive. This is important because it means that the storm is not strengthening and may be on a weakening trend. Now I cannot possibly know for sure, but seeing the collapse of the deep convection that was definitely there last night and for a good deal of today is a good sign. Perhaps the GFS’ idea of a sheared, weaker, pulsing convection type storm is really what will pan out. The ECMWF forecast of a deeper, stronger system seems to be fading quickly.

NE Gulf Heat Content Map

NE Gulf Heat Content Map

The other issue is heat content. Hurricanes get their energy from the latent heat which is stored in vast quantities in the worlds’ oceans. The deeper the warm water (about 80 degrees F) extends, the more heat content (also called upper ocean heat content) is available. Shallower water tends to hold less heat content and the shallow shelf waters off the eastern parts of the Florida panhandle are notorious hurricane killers due to this lack of energy (see the graphic to the right- the deep blue is low ocean heat content region). I think that the slow movement of Debby is helping to churn up this shallower water, exhausting what little heat content there is; further diminishing Debby’s ability to maintain deep convection.

All of this adds up to the prospect of Debby weakening and not having much of a chance of recovering. This would keep the wind and surge issues to a minimum but the rain is another problem. This is the not so good news part.

Tropical cyclones = rain. That is how they release the heat stored in the oceans. Condensation is a warming process and the release of all that rain also releases heat. This is the very nature of what makes a tropical cyclone tick, so to speak. Unfortunately, too much rain will lead to problems and it looks like the potential exists for a lot of rain for portions of the Florida panhandle and the peninsula. There is no way to know how much rain will fall and where. This all depends on the convection that I mentioned earlier. If rain bands develop, they will drop heavy rain. But those bands can fall apart very quickly too. So the timing and areal coverage of the rain is difficult to forecast. This is why it is important to keep up with what Debby is doing several times per day. The storm is dynamic, it changes. You need to use more than a few resources to keep up with what’s going on. Whether it’s the NWS site ( or a commercial outfit such as your local TV station or other website (like us), you will want to know what the rainfall situation is even between the major advisories issued by the NHC. One great resource is the HPC site linked here where you can get detailed precipitation forecasts. The bottom line is that you need to be aware of the fairly quick changes that Debby could bring your specific area. There are numerous ways to do that.

I’ll have more updates throughout the day tomorrow. And for our Client Services subscribers, do not forget, we have a LIVE broadcast each weekday at 2pm ET where I go over detailed graphics LIVE. We also have exclusive use of Stormpulse maps, live chat and other great features that allow you to gain even more info that can help you stay informed.


HurricaneTrack App for iPhone and Android coming soon

HurricaneTrack App

HurricaneTrack App

I wanted to post an update on our brand new app for iPhone and Android. Things are moving along nicely and we’re almost ready for submission to the App Store.

The app will be very specific in its features and will focus on being informative, educational and a powerful tool to use during hurricane landfalls. Here is a breakdown of the features:

Blog – it will contain our blog from this page which will be a handy way to keep up with our posts on your iPhone or Android device.

Daily video blog – each week day (when things are slow) I will post a short video blog outlining any potential development areas in the Atlantic or east Pacific. This will be a great way to keep up with the latest in graphical format with an easy to understand explanation. I can utilize this feature to educate our users about different aspects of tropical cyclones, preparedness, impacts of a pending landfall, etc. So when you’re waiting for the plane at DFW or ATL, you can sit back and catch up on the latest in the tropics using our app.

Twitter/Facebook – the app will have live Twitter and Facebook feeds, an important way for us to stay connected in short updates, especially when we’re on the road.

Web cam/GPS tracking from the Chevy Tahoe – this will be a really cool feature where users can track our progress on the road via a live web cam (still image, not live video) which will update at least once per minute. We’ll also have a GPS tracking map for you to know exactly where we are at anytime. This will be great for when we are uploading videos and pics, no guessing or wondering as to where we are.

Live weather data – this is likely to be one of the most popular features of the app and one that we are quite proud of. Users will have access to our live weather data and web cam pics from our three 5-meter wind towers that we will set up in the path of a hurricane. The data will include wind and pressure readings every 60 seconds! Each tower will also have a live camera sending still images to the app every minute as well. For those who really want to know what the wind speeds are, the pressure is and a look at the landscape where it is happening, this will be perfect for you!

Field mission video blogs – once we are out in the field working a landfall, our entire team will be able to post video blogs of anything that we find interesting or informative for you. We will use our iPhones to shoot the video segments and upload them immediately. We’ll do this before, during and especially after a landfall. There is no other app that will offer the amount of videos from the field than ours. You will be able to keep up with conditions in chronological order as we work the mission day by day. I am very excited about this powerful tool that will bring you the very best information right from where it matters the most.

So how much will it cost? We will roll out a subscription based app first followed by a free, ad-supported version. Both will offer the exact same features. Our hope is that our audience will support our work by subscribing to the app which will only be $1.99 per month. As they say, “you can cancel anytime”. But wait, there’s more! The app will be utilized during the off-season as well to provide a weekly weather outlook video as well as other interesting non-hurricane related news and activities. All in all, the app will be an extension of what we offer here and our more robust Client Services site. For those who are members of our subscription site and will also utilize our app, you will have the absolute best that we can possibly offer, covering you at all angles. We are very excited about the release of HurricaneTrack for iPhone and Android. We hope you are too. Any questions at all? Please post in comments or send an email. I’ll keep everyone posted as to when we expect it to be available in the App Store and Google Play.