Monday, August 27, 2012

Tropical Cyclone Isaac: The Long View

1800 UTC 17 Aug – 1800 UTC 27 Aug 2012 IR satellite imagery and
GFS sea level pressure and 700-mb wind analyses
Tropical Cyclone Isaac (classified @ 1200 MDT 27 Aug as a tropical storm with peak sustained winds of 65 knots but expected to strengthen) has already disrupted the Republican National Convention and is now headed for the Gulf Coast.

As shown in the loop below (click to enlarge), Isaac formed within a tropical wave that originated over Africa and moved across the tropical Atlantic Ocean.  Not all tropical waves develop into tropical cyclones and you can see two examples trailing Isaac.  Better understanding the mechanisms that contribute to tropical wave development or non-development is an area of active research in the atmospheric sciences, including efforts by Prof. Ed Zipser and his students here at the University of Utah.  Of course, the issue now concerns the position and intensity of Isaac at landfall, as well as impacts ranging from storm surge to precipitation-induced flooding.

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