We continue with our extremely busy early season in the tropics, already reaching the I storm for the year. That means there have been 9 named storms, with the typically most active part of the season looming. Hanna, the storm before Isaias was the first hurricane of the year, landfalling in south Texas last week, causing some flood damage to the Brownsville, McAllen and Harlingen areas. Isaias also threatens US interests this weekend.
Isaias only congealed into a hurricane after making his first landfalls over Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Shortly after reemerging over the sea north of the Dominican Republic, he strengthened into a hurricane for the first time. He still doesn’t look like your classic, well organized hurricane as he passes over the central Bahamas, but hurricane hunters have verified his status.
There are warnings out for most of the Bahamas, as well as across the east coast of Florida as well.
Calling for a hurricane warning where the hurricane presently is is just solid operational meteorology, but the warning along the Florida Coast should tell you a little something about where this storm is expected to end up. Let’s see the first spaghetti plot on Victoria-Weather of 2020!
There are two things to note about this particular track. First, the majority of the input guidance keeps the storm off the coast of Florida, save for a brief incursion around Jupiter, before strafing the coast. Second, there is a startling level of cohesion to the tracks even a few days into the forecast. I feel like now I should note that Isaias is pronounced “Eesa-eeyus” because you are going to hear about the storm for a while.
The bad news is that this storm is going to affect the US for quite awhile, but after that initial “there is a hurricane affecting the country, and it is part of an extremely active tropical season to date” news, the situation breaks towards the positive for the East Coast. First, Isaias is likely close to, if not at, it’s maximum intensity already.
This is primarily because Isaias is moving swiftly, and won’t loiter over the warm waters that will give it strength. Additionally, his proximity to the coast will deter sustained development. That swift moving factor should limit the flooding potential, though there is always that chance with a tropical feature. I would expect the flooding threat to be greatest from North Carolina to New York, where Isaias will dabble inland the most.
Winds and storm surge won’t ever really bear down on the US as powerfully as they could. The left side of a hurricane, relative to storm motion, is generally the tamest side of the storm. IF the eye remains off shore in Florida, when the storm is its strongest, then the most intense part of the storm will follow suit. Also, storm surge is greatest ahead of the storm, and since it will be moving parallel to the coast for the most part, surge will never be as big a concern as Katrina or Michael, for example.
All tropical features bring their dangers and should be met with concern. Fortunately, Isaias will deliver only a glancing blow. Hopefully, it will give enough practice to coastal residents, as the 2020 hurricane season (and 2020 year in general) don’t show any signs of becoming less relentless.