Colleagues, Threat to Tampa lessens as landfall uncertainty increases. FORECAST: Tropical Storm Isaac is leaving the central Cuban coast now with winds of 65 mph headed NW and to the lower keys at 18 mph. Forecast for Southern Florida remains the same - rain and squalls. The lower Keys will have hurricane force gusts. But the track has moved west a few degrees and means that Tampa, Orlando and and the Central Peninsula will may even avoid Tropical Storm force winds. Some rain but not significant rain and not nearly the same tide as previously forecast. Bridges might even stay open. All this because the track look more NW than NNW by a few degrees. Landfall is back to between New Orleans and Western Florida Panhandle with the big bend of Florida having a surge of only a few feet and only tropical storm force squalls. Tallahassee will probably get some rain, but not a lot of wind. More wind as you move west and even hurricane force gusts in the western panhandle. It may be tomorrow morning before this gets sorted out. But conditions in central Florida and Tampa are clearly improved, but not to the point of being completely normal.
DISCUSSION: There are several lows and trough features that figure predominately in the forecast. One is retreating westward which sustains the influence of the high pressure a bit, but enough to shit the track to the west just enough. And then there is the short wave trough I have been mentioning and watching. Now it looks like it might not extend far enough south (always a concern) and may just pass by Isaac and not force the right turn that I talked about yesterday. Missing that sharp turn to the right, Isaac will just continue to the NW. Not clear to me in the data, and not clear in the models either. It should clear up either today or early tomorrow. The further west, the later the landfall. But it will happen either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Weather in Tally will be near normal, but deteriorating as you go west. Alligator point will experience rough seas and Tropical Storm gusts. Surf and winds will increase as you go west. The first forecast I made was for Mobile Bay and that and even New Orleans can not be taken off the table now. It will be clear Monday and maybe even later today. But there is clearly a westward shift of about 100 miles or so, just how much is not clear.
NEXT FORECAST: Tomorrow, Monday, August 27, sooner if new data comes in that would allow refinement. I will be watching the data come in constantly until after landfall.
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Peter S. Ray
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