Friday, August 24, 2012

Hurricane impacts on conventions still unclear

We enter the weekend before the Republican National Convention -- and we're about a week from the start of Democratic National Convention activities in Charlotte -- without a good idea of how Tropical Storm Isaac and other tropical systems will have an impact.

First of all, my apologies for missing Thursday's post.  Health issues got in the way.  Let's just say this ... kidney stones aren't fun.

But back to business.

Hurricane specialists say the toughest part of forecasting is determining the future intensity of a storm, and Tropical Storm Isaac has been a great example.  Isaac repeatedly has confounded meteorologists by failing to organize.  The lack of organization also has made it tougher to predict the storm's path.

A strong storm is easier to predict, as it follows the path set by other weather systems. But a weak tropical storm has a tendency to meander.

As of 8 a.m. Friday, the center of Isaac was south of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Top sustained winds were 50 mph, but Isaac remained poorly organized.

It is expected to cross Cuba this weekend, then enter the Florida Straits and intensify.  The National Hurricane Center predicts Isaac will remain a tropical storm across Cuba but strengthen into a hurricane in the Florida Straits.

About 90 percent of the computer models take Isaac north-northwest on Monday, running parallel to the Florida Gulf Coast.

But how far off the coast?  Forecasters say they aren't sure.  The official NHC track keeps Isaac about 150 miles off the coast.  The storm then is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday near the Florida-Alabama border on the Gulf Coast, as a hurricane with 85 mph winds.

Florida authorities are preparing, but no official action has been taken yet.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Haiti, the Dominican Republic, parts of Cuba, the southeast Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos islands. Tropical storm watches are posted for Jamaica, parts of Cuba, and the central Bahamas.

First, the disclaimer.

From what I've seen with Isaac, forecasts are a gamble.  Until this storm intensifies, its path will be tough to predict. Heck, I've seen scenarios where Isaac stays in the Gulf of Mexico for a while and makes landfall in Louisiana or even east Texas. But let's say the NHC forecast track is right.

That would mean Tampa will get a stormy day Monday for the start of the RNC.  We'd be talking about a storm surge on the coast, frequent heavy thunderstorms, and a tornado threat.  It would be a bad day at the beach, but the storm would be far enough off the coast to prevent wholesale evacuations.

In other words, the RNC show would go on.

Chris Horne, of the National Weather Service's office in Greer, S.C., says the remnants of Isaac probably would impact Charlotte-area weather around Wednesday. We figure to be on the eastern edge of flooding rains and possible tornadoes, but the exact level of stormy weather is (here we go again) tough to predict this far out.

What about the DNC?

Isaac's remnants would be gone by then.  And Tropical Storm Julia is not expected to affect the United States, as it is swept northward and into the open Atlantic next week.

Following Julia is another potential tropical system that could play a role in our weather around the time of the DNC.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Hurricane impacts on conventions still unclear"
There are no hurricanes.
There will be no impact in Tampa or Charlotte.
Sorry Steve.

J said...

Steve, I feel your pain. I gave birth to a kidney stone last November. Hard to believe something so tiny can cause such agony.

I saw that one "rebel" forecast that takes Isaac to Houston. I still hold out hope for that, and that when it hits Houston it turns north and gives the Midwest the rain it so badly needs.

Anonymous said...

Why did they choose Tampa during hurricance season saying Tampa has not had a direct impact in 90 years? Do they not remember all the direct impacts Florida has experienced from hurricanes?

Anonymous said...

I think it's TS Joyce, not Julia.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Your inability to call the weather makes me crazy. The storm in question began a westerly trend early yesterday. Have you looked at the NOAA 2 PM model today? Tampa is barely in the cone. Southern Al, MS and New Orleans are new the target.

Anonymous said...

My dog could do a better job reporting weather.
(1) There is no hurricane at this point - it's a minimal tropical storm.
(2) The OFFICIAL National Hurricane Center forecast indicates movement AWAY from Tampa.
(3) There is NOTHING to indicate any problems for Charlotte.
This column should be listed under FICTION.

SmarterThanYou said...

Anon@2:43

I'm assuming that your dog has better reading comprehension than his owner.
1) Steve never calls it a hurricane. The headlines are typically written by someone else.
2) The forecast is moving all the time. At the time of writing, his information was accurate. NOAA's current forecast still shows Tampa in the are of possible danger. Plus, the impact of the storm can cover thousands of miles.
3) Steve said that neither Isaac or Joyce would be an impact.

Your post should be listed under Comedy.

Anonymous said...

There will be no impact? Then how come Monday's RNC events have been cancelled?

Crusty McWheezlepants said...

"There will be no impact? Then how come Monday's RNC events have been cancelled?"

Because with 70,000 folks hitting town, it's best to be conservative in considering how weather could affect flights, public transportation, and other logistics. Nothing of import happens on Mondays anyway so the delegates in town get another day to party.

Which reminds me, do you know the difference between a Teabagger and a Democrat? A Democrat will speak to you at the strip club.

Plus the RNC doesn't want to be seen as insensitive in the face of the anniversary of Katrina. Wouldn't want to see replays of GW's arm around "Brownie" telling him how good he's doin.